Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sylwester Family's Summer Near the Marxhausens

In the summer of 1964, while our house was being moved from Faculty Lane out to remote Columbia Avenue and being set up, our family moved into a house across the street from the Marxhausen family. Both these houses were on Columbia Avenue, across a street from each other.

During those weeks, I spent my mornings, when the weather was cool, at the empty site of our old house, saving the bricks so that I could sell them and make a lot of money.

During the afternoons, when the weather was hot, I hung out at the house where the Schwich family was supposed imminently to arrive.

My Dad was a good friend of Reinhardt Marxhausen, who taught art at the college. The Art Department, Mr. Marxhausen's office, and my Dad's office were all together in the basement of Weller Hall.

All the kids knew Mr. Marxhausen, because he visited the elementary school sometimes and taught the students how to make mosaics. He looked like a stereotypical artist, with a goatee and a beret. He also taught summer classes about art for local kids. I liked his wife Dorris, because she had a wry sense of humor. They had a couple of boys, Paul and Karl, who were classmates of my younger siblings.

We ate over at the Marxhausen house a few times during that summer. Mr. Marxhausen showed us his current art projects in his studio behind the house.

Since I was already 12 years old and seemed to be very responsible (not all like the bratty, immature little kids), the Marxhausens hired me to babysit their two boys. When I did this job, I never even saw the boys. The Marxhausen parents already had put them to bed. So, I just sat in their basement room (which was walpapered with old newspapers) and watched TV late into the night until they came home. They left me some Pepsi in the refrigerator to drink, so I drank Pepsi and watched Johnny Carson, which was a rare, grown-up treat for me. I think I always was asleep on the couch by the time the parents came home. They would give me some money and send me home across the street.

During that summer, our temporary house at this location was a major gathering point for lots of kids. We always had a lot of friends over, playing Risk, Monopoly and Hearts. It was a madhouse, with kids screaming and running around. One time, Gene Meyer was there, and he asked me how my mother could stand the loud bedlam. My Mom just tuned it all out.

Normally we could not have animals in our home, but my family made an exception that summer and allowed us to have a couple kittens. My little bratty brothers Peter and Andy abused those kittens terribly, throwing them around as aerodynamic experiments, so I had to slug Peter and Andy a lot in order to try to save the kittens.

Those kittens moved with our family into the house in remote Columbia Avenue. They lived in the house there until alergies developed in some of our family members. Then we moved them outside. I don't remember what happened to them afterwards. They have disappeared from my memory. I suppose they just became outide cats and eventually wandered away.


As I was looking through Karl Marxhausen's website, I saw a photograph of Karl's dormitory wall.

A decoration of the college dormitory wall of Karl Marxhausen. The photo was taken from
Seeing this picture reminded me that the walls in Marxhausens' basement were wallpapered with old newspapers that were also three-dimensional. The walls had various protrubences and objects built into the wallpaper. Wierd stuff, like in Karl's dorm room.

Here is Karl's caption for the picture.

1975. Bob Winkler was the best room mate at Centennial College at UNL. Here are paper strips hanging from our dorm room ceiling.

The basement wall I grew up with was covered with layers of markers, collage, with cardboard tubing sticking out. My dad was into paper mache. It was cool. And this wall treatment carried over to my dormroom with the admiration of my room mate.

I would drag empty refrigerator boxes back to our room and make artificial coverings that I could draw on and glue dixie cups to and still not deface school property.

That's the Seward Concordia faculty-kid spirit! Be creative with paper mache, but don't deface school property!

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