My favorite team…
My favorite team…
When I was a teenager I hated school.
Most felt the same way, I think?
Difference between you and me? I didn’t persevere. Just gave up.
I’d rather hang out, do my own thing. Know what I mean?
Didn’t know the importance of an education. Had no idea. No clue. Who needs school? I’m going to be an Ironworker when I’m 18. That was the mind-set. That was the wrong mind-set.
Father, mother and older brother all dropped out of school. I followed their lead.
“For a boy to become a man, he must first see a man,” said J.R. Moeringher.
It started with Power Memorial. I was 14. The year was 1978. I lasted three days. Same high school as Dick Bavetta, Ed Klimkowski, Eddie Moss, Larry Petty, Jessie Fong, Mario Elie and Jerry Coles. I recall Jerry poking his head in my classroom first day of school asking how things were going? I looked at him and said to myself, “I hate it.“
Dreams of playing for their basketball team. Saw them play two years before. Said I wanted to be a Panther. Would go around telling everyone. All that was over. Two trains to the city. Too much. Had to wake up way too early.
What next? What do I tell my mother? She’ll be pissed. Ticked off.
Fear not young man. Enroll in John Jay. Seventh avenue. John Corrar. Patty Byrnes. Joe Pepitone. Freshmen and Sophomores in the afternoon. Juniors and seniors in the morning. I can sleep in.
Started skipping classes on the second day; few days later I was history.
At 15 you have no idea why you fear. (“Hey, get back in school, you can do this…) That’s all I needed.
Sure they tried to tell me to get back in school. I didn’t listen. An all important attribute. “Listening.”Older guys from the neighborhood preached. Lectured. Some even begged me. My girlfriend Maureen tried to convince me. My ears were closed.
Few weeks later I try LaSalle Academy down on the Lower East Side. Catholic school. Went 8 years to Holy Name. “The Big Lie,” but that’s a story for another time. Nuns, priests, discipline, wooden paddles, uniforms…
LaSalle is The Candy Man’s alma mater. John Roache. Tom Owens. Ron Artest.
The Cullen’s from 175 Windsor Place told me all about LaSalle.Good friends of mine growing up. Jimmy a year older, Frankie two years on me.
Said I would like it. They sure did.
Jerome Washington was a star player at the time. He was cool.Kid could really ball. Had hops too. Saw him one day shooting jumpers in their tiny gym. Thought to myself maybe I can play in the back-court with him? Poor son of a bitch passed away a few years ago. Think he was 48. Sad.
The LaSalle experiment lasted two months. Sorta. Maybe a month and a half. On the second day mom gave me $100 cash to buy a few required text books; I spent the money on cokes and buttered rolls every morning before school. On the weekends I would buy a bottle of Wild Irish Rose. The money was gone in 14 days.
Poor Mom, she and I tried John Jay a second time. Things didn’t work out. I lasted two weeks. I was petrified. There seemed to be like 10,000 kids in that school. The hallways were spooky. I didn’t know anyone. I was like a zombie walking the halls. Saw a few kids sneaking out a window in the stairwell. I jumped out with them. Ran up the block to Prospect Park. Walked around thinking this was so cool. Little did I know, I was fucking up.
Tried John Jay one more time.
Fall of 1980. Sixteen year-old freshman. But now a member of the the basketball team. Me, Ron Hardy, Keith Grady, Ed Saunders, Gary Phillips, whom we called ‘Doc’ because boy could he sky. I remember throwing him an ally-oop in practice. He was up so high he was talking to the Lord. And we had a really cool Hispanic kid from Bay Ridge, Merchado was his last night. One day him and I had two hours to kill before practice so we spent it watching a performance by some dancers in the auditorium. Pete Coakley was the coach; reminded me of the White Shadow. I was having a ball. Not going to class but going to practice. The day we got our uniforms, #30, I wore it outside. That night I slept in it.
Early December we played a few games; I got some playing time. My girlfriend Maureen bought me brand new Nike high-tops. But it hit me again; I quit the team. Dropped out of school. WTF?
Winter of 1981 I start coaching a seventh grade basketball team at Holy Name.
Took a liking to it. Never went back to school. But the game did something for me. Believe it was the Basketball Gods who sent the message.
Fast forward 35 years; took and passed the G.E.D. exam. Enrolled in college. Got my college degree. These days I coach varsity basketball and substitute teach. Right now I have a long-term substitute job until Thanksgiving teaching English 3 and Anthropology/Sociology.
Should have been a teacher. I love being in the classroom with these wonderful kids.
I slept in today.
All my friends are in school.
I stopped going a few weeks ago. I don’t like it at all. Mom finally stopped breaking my balls. It was getting annoying.
The teachers at school are a pain in my ass.
I don’t like being told what to do.
But I do like gym class. I like the teacher, he’s the football coach.
Oh, forgot to tell you, I go to John Jay high school down on seventh avenue.
I’m 14, a freshman, ninth grade. I do like the way they have it set up though. 9th and 10th graders from from 12:05 to 5:30. Juniors and seniors go in the morning.
I don’t need anyone telling me what to do. I do what I want, okay? They have security guards all over the school. Metal detectors at the door. Someone told me not to go in the bathroom that I’ll get jumped. I went a few times, no one fucked with me.
So leave me alone…I’m a drop-out and I don’t care.
I don’t need school. I’m going to be an ironworker some day. Local 40. My Grandfather can get me a job.
I look out my bedroom window and the sun is out. I like these days. I can walk around the city later today. When it rains or if it’s cold outside, I gotta find someplace indoors.
My girlfriend goes to St. Saviour’s. I miss her. Wish we could hang out today but I have to wait for her to get out of school. I haven’t seen her in two days. We talked on the phone last night but it’s not the same as being with her. Her mother always tells her to get off the phone.
I’m heading down to East 5th street to play some ball.
See ya later!
A couple of days ago a young lady in our high school took her own life.
She was a freshman.
14, maybe 15 years old. Sad man, just sad.
I’m not sure why she did this. We’ll never know actually. But it broke my heart when I heard the news.
Her family has to be devastated. Our students are stunned. Shocked.
As a father of a 16 year-old daughter, the death hit home.
I knew the young lady. She always had a smile on her face. As I compose this entry, I am fighting back tears.
Suicide is a complex issue. Everyone has an opinion on it.
Who really knows what people are going through?
Everyone has problems.
No one is immune to them.
We can never tell what our friends or family are going through.
Suicide is often carried out as a result of despair, the cause of which is frequently attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, or drug abuse, as well as stress factors such as financial difficulties, troubles with interpersonal relationships, and bullying
I found the above content on Wikipedia. I know it’s hard for someone to talk about these problems.
We keep things bottled up. Sometimes it’s too embarrassing for one to discuss what is going on. There’s shame. Call it what you want. But something has to be done.
I wish the young lady that took her life would have talked to someone. I wish someone knew that she was struggling.
Always someone willing to listen.
If you know someone who has talked of suicide, please do something. Don’t just sit there and do nothing. If you notice someone acting differently, speak up.
Life is tough, but we have to do all we can to stick it out.
We have to fight. We can’t let problems lick us. Gotta fight!
Bottom line is we have to work hard to get through our problems – and we need each other.
We can do it. Gotta band together.
I know it’s easier said than done, but we need to pull together and help.
As a group we can defeat suicide.
One of the first mistakes I made in life was not attending Ford after spending eight years at Holy Name.
But I did get the chance to coach basketball for the Falcons in my early 20’s. I started as an assistant under Danny Piselli and was able to coach the Freshmen team.
Through the sport of basketball I was able to meet so many good people from Ford.
Three years ago I blogged about my all-time favorite Falcon basketball players.
The one thing I worry about is the faculty at Ford. I wish them all the luck in the world.