Friday, April 10, 2009

Mike Sylwester Remembers the Hackmann Family

Faculty Lane’s second house, the one next to ours, was occupied by the Hackmann family at first. The father taught theology.

I remember only the two oldest boys -- David and Eddie. Neither was in my class. I think David was in the class above me, and Eddie was in the next class up. There were a bunch of younger siblings in the family, but I was already eight years old, so I was interested in playing only with the cool, older kids, not with the immature younger ones.

Children of the Sylwester and Hackmann families posing in a line in a yard on Faculty Lane in Seward, Nebraska. The image was scanned from a photograph belonging to Toby Beck.

I received this picture from Toby Beck, who wrote that it shows Sylwester and Hackmann kids in the front of the Sylwester home. I recognize the kids, from left to right as Tricia Sylwester on someone's back, Mike (with hands on knees) Sylwester, Tim Sylwester on Eddie Hackmann's back, Steve Sylwester, Larry Sylwester, Gloria Hackmann, some Hackmann kid. (I wish I could post this picture bigger.)

The Hackmann family introduced our family to a lot of board games, especially Monopoly and Risk. My brothers Steve and Tim went there a lot to play those games. During the summer, we sometimes would play board games all day long.

When we played games, the older Eddie always teamed with my younger brother Steve, and the younger David always teamed with me. This way the teams were more even. We kept to these teams when we played board games, sports, and war. Therefore, I think Steve probably remembers Eddie much more than I do.

The Hackmann family had a dog, a collie, that was chained to a tree behind their home. I always felt sorry for this dog, because a lot of dogs ran free in Seward. This dog would see other dogs running free, and so he would bark unhappily. I would pet him and would offer to walk him.

One summer the Hackmanns went away for a few weeks, and so Mrs. Hackmann asked me to feed and walk this dog. On about the second day after the Hackmans left, I was walking the dog, who wanted to run. The dog pulled so hard on his leash that the leash slipped out of my hand, and the dog ran away. I spent a lot of time on the following days riding my bicycle all over the area and trying to find the Hackmans’ run-away dog. After about a week, someone brought the dog back, so he was home when the Hackmans returned from their vacation.

Before the Hackmans had departed, Mrs. Hackmann had indicated to me that she would pay me for taking care of the dog. When the family returned, however, Mrs. Hackmann told me that she had decided that instead of giving me cash she would give me a brand-new Monopoly game. I might have been delighted by this present, but during the two weeks of the Hackmans absence, my parents had decided to buy the family a Monopoly game, since we kids could not play Monopoly while the Hackmans were away. So, I was disappointed, but by that time Mrs. Hackmann already had bought the game and so she no longer had the cash to give me. She suggested that we put the two Monopoly boards next to each other and play them both as a single game. We tried her idea for about two minutes, but it was an impractical idea.

An outdoor game that we played around the Hackmann house was War. A lot of boys had toy rifles (a few even had real BB guns), and we would organize ourselves into armies and act out ambushes and battles against each other. Around the houses there were a lot of big bushes that provided excellent obstacles and hiding places. The best Christmas present I ever received was a really good toy rifle in one of the first years when we lived on Faculty Lane. Steve and I (and maybe Tim) each received a rifle in that extraordinarily happy Christmas. (Thanks, Dad!!)

At that time there was a television advertisement that played often. The advertisement was for Clairol hair shampoo. In the advertisement, a taxi stopped on a street, and by coincidence two people got into the taxi's back seat simultaneously from both sides of the taxi. The first person recognized the second person immediately, but the second did not recognize the first immediately. So, then after they both recognize each other, the first person wonders how the second person has managed to maintain his youthful looks. Why, of course, the second person exclaims, "I use Clairol hair shampoo!"

This advertisement was shown with various combinations of men and women; it was not just an advertisement for women.

Anyway, when the Hackmans learned that they would move from that house but still had not moved, Dave and I had a joke that we told to each other. We joked that sometime in the far future, we both would get into the same taxi and still recognize each other, because we both used Clairol shampoo. We thought this joke was hilarious.

To this day, every time I get into a taxi, I look around to see if Dave Hackmann might be getting in from the other side.

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