I spied the grand building from the road and was momentarily intimidated but only momentarily. I walked confidently to the citadel and bid adieu to my escort, “g’bye Ma.” I was off to kindergarten and was resolved to make the best of it, after being told of the tremendous experience ahead. I was introduced to Miss Scanlon who was apparently the trail boss of this cattle drive. Herded into a room, we sat in a circle Indian style. Many years later, ‘Indian style’ was renamed, as sitting, ‘criss cross applesauce’, lest someone find the term offensive thank God. Certainly a fair reparation for stealing land and murdering its inhabitants. But I digress. Sitting in the circle we had the opportunity to size each other up. The entire herd seemed friendly enough and as the morning went on I found myself adapting very well. Then it happened. An event that would change my life. Some kid untied my shoe. After thinking, two can play this game, I found him to have velcro clip shoes. Marc Mazzarella was now my nemesis, arch enemy if you will. I vowed to go home and accelerate my shoe tying training module.
Elementary school had more traumatic experiences in store for me. The specific grade we were in escapes me but some thug and myself decided only fisticuffs would do, to ensure neither of us lost any honor we imagined we might have had. Behind the school we marched, followed by our respective camps of followers. Clad in our winter coats, Billy Mould and I traded barbs and roundhouses to our very padded midsection until it started to get dark and our fans had to go home. Insults all around and we parted ways. The following day with the nearly bloodletting encounter ostensibly forgotten we were once again pals.
In sixth grade and enjoying ‘king of the hill’ status, with this being the last year of grade school. Dave Martin and myself took the opening day of the baseball season off of school, permitted if you had a ticket and went to the Indians game. Seated at the ballpark on a nice sunny day, rumor was that a cold beer would top it off. Being only in the sixth grade we held little hope but thought it our duty to give it a shot. When a vendor came by, one of us nonchalantly said, “two beers”. He obediently poured us two, collected the fare and was on his way. In the third inning we had another and agreed he would pop by every other inning or so. A sixth grade outing to remember indeed.
My kindergarten nemesis “Mazz” as he was named by our eighth grade English teacher, asked me to be his best man years later and we remain friends with little contact but friends nonetheless. I communicate with Billy, now in Arizona on Facebook and are still pals. Dave went to and thankfully returned from VietNam and he and his wife raised a family in Ohio. We both learned at the ballgame, “you don’t get something if you don’t ask.” Ya gotta take a shot.