Jim Aldridge - 1962
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West Boulevard Elementary
Probably the most beneficial part of my life is the fact that I was born in Jefferson City, Missouri…no, that is not the “good”… because the beneficial part of my earliest past is that just after my birth our family moved to Columbia so I would not be tainted by the deadly red and black of the Jeff City Jays.
After spending my developmental years as both a KIT (Kewpie in training) and as a Kewpie, I remained in Columbia and became a member of the student body at the University of Missouri. However, that association was short lived because I never really worked to be a “student” while I attended MU. I did discover the best places to cut class (at both the Commons and the Union) and used that experience as a time to develop my skills playing various card games. Unfortunately, (Black) Jack Mathews, Dean of Students, felt that my development was best suited to “other endeavors” at other institutions.
With the assistance of many individuals my educational endeavors were relocated to a junior college in Fort Smith, Arkansas. After three semesters “down south” I returned for a summer session at Mizzou and then completed my schooling in Springfield at Drury College. Officially, I hold a BS in Psychology. I immediately put my degree to work keeping a nail busy, holding the document on the wall in my office at KFRU Radio.
I remained at KFRU from 1968 until 1983. My early years in radio were spent working as a news reporter and fill-in show host. Behind the scene I became involved with the production of various play-by-play sports broadcasts for both Hickman and Mizzou football and basketball games. Eventually, following in my father’s footsteps, I became the play-by-play voice of the Hickman Kewpies for football and basketball. During my time broadcasting Hickman games the Kewpies won a state championship in football and constantly in the basketball championship playoff picture. In 1983 I left KFRU and Columbia and began a three year employment with the Associated Press. I returned to Columbia following the time at the AP and developed new skills and interests in food service as I worked with Ken Applegate at Jacks Gourmet and then began managing the food service operation at Columbia College.
In 1991 I stopped working on a full-time basis and began working “as needed” managing college food service operations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Texas. These experiences led to a year running food service for the Columbia Senior Center until I left “work” for the great retirement ideal. During retirement I have not looked back. I left the office and picked up a set of golf clubs and now spend my days acting like I know how to play the game.
While I am not married I am in a committed, long term, relationship with Sherry Walker. We have been engaged for about three decades and both of our families consider us to be husband and wife. Sherry is a native of Illinois where she was educated. After arriving in Columbia she spent several years working in the main office at Columbia Hickman High School when Dr. Clark was the principal. While she is not a Kewpie thru her education she certainly knows the virtues of the Purple and Gold.
As I reflect back on my time as a student at Hickman the one memory that seems most prominent is related to the basketball team winning the state championship in St. Louis our sophomore year. There was an outpouring of “school spirit” during that event and being on the bus trip to and from the game always seems to flash into my mind as I look back.
Now, almost fifty years since leaving the experience of Hickman High School, there is one association with the teachers and administrators that stands far above all others as a favorite. Helen Williams will always be my favorite not for how she taught us but for how she inspired the majority of her students to expand our frames of reference and then to use that experience to entertain. Like many of my Verse Choir colleagues I remember more from that class than anything else that I was taught.
January 4, 2012