BEFORE STARTING SCHOOL: 1949-1954:...
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, PS 126, BROOKLYN: 1954-1959:... My father was always being phoned in the middle of the night by his friend's wives or my mother's sibling's spouses for my father to go out and find their drunken companions at some bar somewhere. I really got to hate that. It only made my father even nastier. Yes, it is true that a lot of Polacks and Micks and indians of that era were drunks, it happens with ethnic groups who are poor and whose nations were wiped off the map.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, PS 122, QUEENS: 1959-1961:... Father got caught up in house race gambling in 1959, 1960. Hocked everything. Had a nice mini-binocs that was very powerful and he hocked it as well. I recall sitting alone at racetracks in the parking lot at night waiting for my father to come out. I got a small real microscope to go along with my chemistry set. We lived near the astoria Pool but I never learned how to swim. They had the City Olympics in it right after Don Schollander won the Olympic Trials in early 1964 and I was too shy to go compete although I was faster than anyone at that time. From First Grade I save 50c a week in a bank for collge. It vanished. I think my father lost it on the horses. I saw the 1963 99% eclipse from my bedroom window in NYC and I saw the 1970 99% eclipse from my bedroom in Bloomington, Indiana. We had REGENTS state-wide exams in NYC and we'd have the afternoons off after them. Parents and their friends and relatives were all chain smokers and when they played poker at my house the little apt would become so full of smoke Id have to bury my face in my pillow in the far room because of my stinging eyes. I loved Trick or Treating as my favorite day of the year from 1954-1963. I'd stay out until midnight in the 60s. Got large bags of stuff and much money. Made my Communion and Confirmation, always #1 in religion. Built plastic models, almost always planes. But nuclear ships when they appeared. Had a big Remco Astrobase and a Lionel Launching Pad.
JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL, JHS 141, QUEENS 1961-1964:... Saw a lot of 1962-1964 Mets and Yankee games as my father was an usher at the Polo Grounds/Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium. My father sometimes guarded Mickey Mantle from the kids. Took two school trips to Washington Dc with my JHS class by train in 7th and 8th grades. Guess that was 1962 and 1963. They were actually Senior trips but the SP class was allowed to go as well. We left the old Penn Station. Whenever I was late for school and the teachers would ask me why Id always tell them the truth and theyd laugh and not punish me. Only when they didnt ask did I automatically get in trouble. I was usually late due to being frightened of the constant bullying. In Tom Wolf's "The Right Stuff", he has a chapter where he said it was amazing how thousands of people showed up to cheer the Astronauts on the convertible trip from LaGuardia Airport to Lower Manhattan for the ticker tape parade. It wasnt so amazing. The local principal(s?) got everyone out. I still have the slip that Principle Solomon Kimmel handed out in JHS 141 telling us about their arrival. I loved my chemistry set and found I could buy extra bottles of chemicals at Macys upstairs where one went around from escalator to escalator. I think they were 35c which was like $3.50 in those days. One teacher announced to the class that I was the only one she never saw cheating. I was too good (and fearful) a Catholic boy to dare. She must have been a 9th grade teacher as I recall giving her something to sign and she wrote that I was her favorite student and tapped it and said "I really mean this". On my yearbook, the chief bully who finally stopped when i got bog wrote, "To Walt whose hair was always in his eyes. Lots of luck at Philadelphia Tech." My hair was always longer in a crewcut culture and when the Beatles came out I was suddenly popular. Favorite song in JHS was Telstar. I recall going up to Ditmars Blvd in the dark with my father to wait for my mother to finally get out of work at about 10pm from the A&P. I wonder if that was on Fridays? It may have been the Summer of 1963 when I went to the concrete park under the Triboro Bridge and the city had workers there to oversee games we could play and I was absolutely unbeatable in both both hockey and checkers. For som reason I was absolutely sure how to hit every puck in box hockey to make it go into the opposing slot and I could look at checker board and see how to easily win or tie every game just as surely as in playing Tic Tac Toe and knowing how to win or tie every game. Was it a burst of puberty that suddenly made my mind so clear that Summer? I dont know if I could automatically perfectly know those things now as I did then. The only time I ever sailed my expensive 'unsinkable' sailing ship was in Central Park Lake with my father and it sunk and we waded in to try to find it and couldnt. It was a Summer. 1963? At some point I started going shopping with my mother at the other A&P down past Astoria Square while pulling a cart in 1962? Was she on vacation? Did she quit her A&P? Anyway, it was at that store that I discovered Marvel Comics which were not sold in candy stores as the other brands had a monoploy with distributors. So, off a supermarket turning rack, I was buying the ORIGINAL Marvels. I still have the original SPIDERMAN near my bed. (I just bought the first two comics in many years: One was a reprint of a 1954 Jimmy Olsen comic I remember having, one of the very first ones I ever bought, and the other an early 1964 Batman, one of the very last ones I had bought. I was age 11/12/13/14 in JHS. I was riding my bike when Jim Bunning threw his Perfect Game at Shea on Fathers Day June 1964. My father was there. I was there with my father when the longest Doubleheader in history was played at Shea on May 31, 1964. It was also when Gaylord Perry threw his first spitter to win the marathon. My ftaher ushered and my mother and I were there. At stickball I was always horrible but when I suddenly started to get big I became a great hitter for average and a fantastic fielder. I still have great reflexes. But I had no power as I was too skinny. Upstairs was Mary's house and everything in it looked like the 1890s, especially the coal stove: one large and square and the other one a potbelly. In Jan 1964, just a few days before I had heard the Beatles, we had a lot of snow and I experienced the great coal stove warmth and smell while in he place looking down into all the snow in the parking lot. Our senior class went to Bear Mountain NY and the story is in the long part. Watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan with parents. I wondered why they cared so I watched although I didnt care. Unlike normal Junior Highers I did NOT want to become a teenager as they seemed so stupid and vulgar. I recall all the girls in my music class wanted the teacher to let them play Beatles music and i never heard them get into any one group before: Elvis was when I was 6. I bought an Egyptian Book of the Dead at the American Museum, Haydn Planetarium and taught myself to read Egyptian Heiroglypics at age 13 so I could read Cleopatra's needle in Central Park and the other things in the Art Museums and I actually could. I had even learned the sounds from the book I had. 4-24-00 534pm Under Construction.
SUMMER 1964:.... That's when I got to stay in a Middle Class house far away. This was the Summer without enemies. The 1959 Bullies were gone and my fathers relatives were not able to take their place yet. Three whole months without enemies bothering me. I didn't have that again until I moved to Indiana to get away from them but still had it whenever I returned to York. Every day from childhood on up I constantly worried and wondered about how I could ever afford to buy a car, go on dates, get married, have children, or do anything else that normal people just seemes to be able to do and yet still afford to go to college and be all the things people always expected of me. The answer was I couldnt. Whatever money I would ever have would have to go towards college and not on anything else. I'd always be broke and alone. Later having to increasingly travel on Friday nights while others dated and increasingly work while others played and having to put what money I had into college instead of into clothes, dating, and a car made my life increasingly boring, lonely, and freakish. It also kept me at a perpetual Junior High level of pre-money, pre-car, pre-women as it took money to rise to the next level and all my money had to go for college. Later at the age of 25 I would still be just hanging around with an empty wallet like I did as a kid as college took it all. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. That is what I wish I could have said to the draftboard psychiatrist when he later asked me what I worried so much about.
LONG ISLAND CITY HIGH SCHOOL, NYC, 1964-1965....: LICHS was much easier than JHS 141 but I STILL screwed off. We werent allowed to do our homework in a spare hour we had a couple times a week so we just sat there staring off into space unless we read in the auditorium. I was actually pulling some 55s in classes which was the LOWEST they were allowed to give one in NYC. And I missed a LOT of school as we kept going back and forth to the new house to work on it. But I wasnt worried. In NYC we had THE REGENTS and the rule was that a teacher had to give you a final grade no more than one grade lower or higher than what you got on your regents exam. I just sat down, finally read the books I never opend, and ACED them. So on my report card were all these 55 Fs turned into 85 Bs in the Honors Classes. All I wanted was OUT of NYC.
SUMMER 1965, YORK,PA....: Unlike NYC noone in York seemed to play in the streets or even play outside at all. My mother and I went to downtown York and there was a guy there who was selling Pittsburgh Steelers souvenirs. This was when they had been the worst team in the NFL for a number of years. I had no idea what team was favored in this area as I knew we were somewhere way past Philadelphia, so I guess Pittsburgh and I bough some stuff. Turned out they were mostly Baltimore Colts fans in York. There were virtually no Steelers fans here until they suddenly got good in the early 70s and then all the bandwagon riders showed up. I still have those ancients souvenirs. I just wanted to be a regular teenager now that I was in York to live. I didnt want another rep as a studious person.
YORK HIGH, York,Pa 1965-1966....: This was the first time I wasnt afraid to go to school and even liked it again since 1958 when I was 8 years old. At age 15 I scored a 1250 on my sats and they didnt give as many free points then as now. And back then only a few people took it. Most people never heard of them. My friends in York were always pushing me to shave before I got in trouble for not doing it but I didnt want to grow up. Finally, I bought an injector razor across the street and carefully did so. My father was in NYC so he wasnt around to tell me how. I bought a big gas driven German Stuka plane and its still in the box, never used. It was probably my 16th Birthday present: Oct 30, 1965. My friend Jim W. went to the same dept store to get me a shirt and my mother preferred the one he picke dout to mine. Mine was navy blue, almost black, like a New Yorker would then where. His was a nicer shade of blue like a Yorker would wear. Back in NYC I always wore black and white. In April 1966 Sudden Sam McDowell was tearing up the league with a 6-0 record and Cleveland was expected to win it all. There was a special game on TV with McDowell due to pitch. I piled up goodies around my chair from the corner store across the street to sit and enjoy the game. Naturally, they blasted him for 6 runs in the first with no outs. The Orioles, who I was so sick of hearing about, there in York, eventually went all the way. Some guys I knew also suggested we play ball right after eating near East Jackson St. So I woofed down my meal and ran back and noone showed up. Then I went to each house and found that they had all changed their minds without even telling each other. In NYC people didnt do things like that! On another occasion I did play ball there and I was vastly better in fielding and hitting but they didnt know what to do while fielding. They had no idea of where to position themselves. New Yorkers learn all that stuff. These guys mostly did other things than play games outside. My mother worked in the BON TON downtown and made only a fraction of what she made as a big shot at last in NYC. But she hated NYC and liked York. When she got off some nights at 930 or 10 pm she could walk through Penn park at night without any problems. In 1969 that park started to go really bad.