The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

DITCH JUMPERS

I attended the First Ward (Hoppin) School for the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, which meant that I, along with several other kids in the Fourth Ward, had to walk across the Marsh to get to school.

Fifth Avenue, at that time, did not have sidewalks. There was a dirt path on the Southwest side only, but there was a ditch along each side. Those ditches were deep, but ordinarily they didn't have a great amount of water in them. The sides were pretty steep, which meant that if, when you jumped, you didn't make it to level ground on the other side, you were pretty apt to slide backwards into the muddy water and the water cress.

Even if you did clear everything, you still were not out of trouble, because you had to get back to the street side of the ditch. There was no way that you could walk around and very little room, on that side, to get a running start for your leap. It is extremely uncomfortable to sit in school for a half a day with muddy, wet shoes and socks, but I have done it.

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