Jim Shadd - Where did the years go? Growing up in Biggs - Part 1
I remember having a crush on my husband in high school because he wasn't a 'Biggs Boy'. You know, the local kids that you've grown up with since kindergarten? He came from the fancy metropolitan city of Chico. Little did I know that my Chico guy's family had lived in Biggs for much longer than mine. So long in fact, that both his mother & father's families were deeply entwined within the heart of the community from the early-mid 1900's onward. Today's blog post is the first of several and happens to be by my own father -n-law Jimmie Lee Shadd. Jim grew up in Biggs, and served it in the capacity of student, mayor, teacher, coach and more over the years. Now retired he graciously took some time to write about his life and memories of growing up here, and I'm excited to share this series of his life through the years. --Marci
At this point in life some of these memories are as clear as if they happened yesterday, some a bit more faded and others, I suppose my very own folklore. It was Halloween in 1945. I was in the fifth grade and we moved from East Gridley to Biggs. My first impression was that most of the roads were not paved, slowing down my bicycle riding. They were also hard my knees when I fell and rough on the tires. It seemed like a safe sleepy little town. The only police presence was a night watchman. Several nights went by and there was a car parked across from our house so we called the night watchman and he came by only to find out that a girl lived at the end of our street and her boyfriend waited for her parents to go to bed and then he would move down the street to her house. Well that mystery was solved.
I have a lot of good memories of riding our bikes and swimming at Bubbles (Bubbles got it’s name because there was a spot where the water would bubble up). Then on to Pickleville, where there had been an old pickle factory on the way to Richvale, we would dive into the big canal and swim up under the gate. As we grew and got braver we would jump from the railroad bridge, later we ventured to the Feather River and swung out into the water. I had a lot of fun, swimming, riding bikes and the movies in Gridley with friends. We would ride our bikes down the railroad tracks to Gridley to get to the movies.
My Grandfather was the night watchman at the rice mill and I would get to go to work with him and I remember punching cards. The next summer I read every western and cowboy book there was in the Biggs Library and all that they could get from the county library. One day I went to get some more books and they told me I had read everything they had and they could not get me anymore books. I loved to read.
I got my driver’s license at twelve like many of us did back then in order to be able to work on the farm. At thirteen, I was a member of the Baptist church and helped my Mother and the other adults form the Biggs Baptist church. They let me be a part of the process even though I was only thirteen. The only memory of my family going out to eat was sometimes after church on Sundays we would go to Charlie’s in Oroville. I know it is now Tong Fong Lows but I still call it Charlie’s.
School was a big part of my life and bright spot in my memories. Whether I was reading, writing, doing math or speaking out there was always something to interest me. In fifth grade I won a competition being able to memorize all fifty states and their capitals. I learned memorization was important and I was good at it. I then had a hope of visiting all fifty states and that I did. One of my favorite things to do in sixth grade was to play “stick the milk bottle” with bottle caps in the cloak room at lunch. We spent many lunch hours entertaining ourselves that year. In eighth grade I gave a speech at graduation and wish I could remember what it was about.
High School was a great time in my life not only the studies, but the wonderful friends, the plays, the sports, the yearbook editor. Two of my favorite plays were the one in ninth grade “Kid Brother” and our class won. By twelve grade there was only one play. I think it was called Mr. Moorlocks Millions? I was Mr. Moorlock and remember tipping over the couch because I thought I was being chased by a ghost. I cannot forget the time some buddies hung the dummy from the top of the telephone pole next to the railroad crossing on the way to Richvale.
I liked all sports. I could not play football until my sophomore year because I was too young. So I impatiently watched and waited. Then I finally got to play the next year we ran a single wing offense and I played halfback. I played Basketball, Baseball and Track. I pole vaulted, was part of the relay team and still hold the record for the 75 yard low hurdles (only because they do not have the seventy five yard low hurdles any more). Baseball was probably my favorite sport and having a .424 batting average in my sophomore year might have something to do with that. I played second base.
I remember helping my dad and brother at Shadd’s Chevron on B Street, going to a UC Berkley Football game with my dear friend Wayne and his uncle, on the way there we stopped to watch a Giants game on the television, we did not have a television at home. I remember thinking that Willie Mays was the best baseball player there was and I still believe that today. I remember helping that same friend with his paper route throwing the newspapers out a car we cut the roof off of.
Oh the memories… The school age friends …The good times.
To be continued...
Biggs High School Class of 1953