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The Rascal Youth

The Stewarts lived on the edge of town with a big yard (Rick's first memories include being afraid to go all the way to the back fence by himself), then moved to a 5 acre farmlet that supported a few sheep, then a 20 acre spread that supported a few more. Helen tended a huge garden and canned lots of beans, pickles, tomatoes, corn and other assorted goodies. Rick grew carrots, but wasn't a very good hoer. He and his brother tried to spend at least half their time tormenting their two younger sisters Mary and Janet. It seemed like the manly thing to do.

After one year in East Lansing, Michigan, where Bill spun his wheels working on a PhD, the Stewarts moved back to Iowa and Bill resumed teaching at Maquoketa Community High School (go Cardinals!). Rick and his brother soon had paper routes, which they diligently serviced for five long years of rain and cold and sleet and snow, earning enough money in the process to enjoy some of the finer things in life, like unlimited candy and junk food. And bicycles, which made the route ssoooo much easier.

Rick and Andy joined first the Cub Scouts then the Boy Scouts. Meetings were a highlight of their weeks, with Ultimate Steal the Bacon a specialty, and they progressed through the ranks earning merit badges in Riflery and Cooking and World Brotherhood and much, much more. Rick eventually earned his Eagle and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. Scout and Church camps were eagerly anticipated summer events, although the planned canoe trips across the river to the Girl Scout camp never materialized.

Rick jumped into politics by getting elected to the 7th and 8th grade student councils, where he learned how to sell pencils and pens with a school logo for double the price of generic but perfectly functional equivalents. He ran for Treasurer of the Eastern Iowa District of Student Councils, made a speech in front of hundreds of adoring supporters, and won the election in a landslide. He played the French horn, pretended to sing in the chorus, played football, wrestled, high jumped and generally made himself popular with his teachers, with minor but occasionally dramatic exceptions.

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