Monday, January 21, 2013

1968 and MLK

I came to a school called Walt Whitman in September, 1964. The girls were drop dead gorgeous. I had never seen such beautiful women in my life outside of the walls of my room where I posted pictures of Playboy Playmates in my own private harem. I fell in love immediately and maybe the fact that I was no longer an inmate at Memorial Junior High School had a great deal with my mood change. Those two years were a jail sentence that I don’t recommend to anyone. They included a girl sharing with her friend within earshot that I was the “worst looking boy in the school.” There was a fight in the cafeteria where I duked it out with someone on the stage and got the snot kicked out of me. The fact that it happened in a public place on a stage was bad enough, but it got worse. My ass was kicked by a girl. And it got worse. How is that possible? Trust me. It’s possible. I tossed an apple from the cafeteria apple machine (I have never seen another one since) and brought down the entire lighting system and stayed home from school for three days. Yes, they used to call it Memorial Junior High. I give it no memorial. I give it my very worst review as hosting the two worse years of my life. So, with all that baggage behind me, I enter Whitman and the four years that followed were the very best. As 1968, our graduating year came into focus, the world was about to accept a new graduating class, but before that, it was beginning a year in history which will live forever. In January, 1968, it was announced that the United States had lost its 10,000 plane over Vietnam. Even now, decades after living through those times, I find it hard to believe that we lived through those times. Baseball was only a couple of months away and this season was one we had been living for our entire lives. It was an election year, but what did we know from that. I just turned 18 and was interested in girls, baseball and well, girls. I was a few months away from leaving my smothering household and then my smothering parents dropped a bombshell. They were moving 25 miles away from Huntington to Lido Beach. I had no intention of moving with them and they knew that. I would be staying with my sister who loved 10 miles away from Whitman until graduation. Any more obstacles? February 4 Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a sermon at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta which will come to be seen as prophetic. His speech contains what amounts to his own eulogy. After his death, he says, "I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody... that I tried to love and serve humanity,. Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major for peace... for righteousness." I loved the way words rolled off King’s tongue and I entertained others in class parroting his speeches. We began baseball practice indoors due to the ridiculous weather in New York in February (an atrocious month). I could feel it was going to be a great season.

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