Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six+ decades ago I was born in a small city on the New York State border with Ontario Canada, to a working class family. We were poor. Not Frank McCourt poor but poor enough. I never thought we were poor, 'cause every family in the neighborhood was in the same boat. And they were either family or touch-hole relations. Our neighborhood was in the second ward. It was called alternately; the French side of town, the shipyard, and the wrong side of the tracks. We had all the necessities of life, and three squares a day, but there was little left over for extras. Dad was a truck driver and fuel oil peddler. Mom was a stay-at-home mom who made wedding cakes on the side for a little extra income and dad took a second job during the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway, again driving truck. Our social life revolved around family and the American Legion.

As soon as I was old enough to get my working papers, at age twelve, I got a paper route, delivering the Ogdensburg Journal and their Sunday Advance news. I peddled a second paper, the Syracuse Harold American on Sundays, and the Syracuse Post Standard daily. Between the two routes I probably had a 100 or more customers. I got to know the shipyard and environs pretty well. The money was good enough for a twelve year old; chips, soda, fudgecycles and the like. I also started buying some of my own clothes, you know jeans and such that were popular but too expensive for the family budget.

At fourteen, early into my freshman year of high school, I got into a fist fight with Gerry LeGault, who would soon become my best friend. I only mention this as it will come into play later in the start of my military career.

As a result of this altercation we, Gerry and I, were encouraged strongly, by the football coaches, to try out for the team and vent our testosterone stimulated energies in a more acceptable way. This becomes import economically for me because in those days newspapers were delivered in the afternoon and playing sports would require daily, after school practices. If I made the team I'd have to give up my paper routes and thereby my income.

Testosterone is a key word here. I tried out for and made first string on the football team. Besides aggression, testosterone, as you may have heard, fuels other interests, mainly an attraction to the fairer sex. The male of the species thinks that they are more attractive to girls if they display macho behaviors inherent in athletics and some other behaviors that will become clearer as we move along.

Sorry, I must break here; my chum Leigh just called and wants to go for a kayak paddle and a sauna post. So it's off to indulge in a cold weather (it's 30 degrees F. out side) kayak cruise. I'll be back; God willing!



Blogger Tammy said...

Hurry back, be safe, keep warm and enjoy!

3:07 PM  
Blogger willow said...

I have been listening to my S & G album all weekend! This song pairs perfectly with your post. Enjoy the kayak trip and hurry back and post some more!

3:23 PM  
Blogger Puss-in-Boots said...

I like hearing about people's backgrounds and childhoods. I suspect we're all pretty similar no matter where we live. My parents never had much money either but I certainly never felt deprived, only when I wanted to learn ballet, there was no money for that. But one accepted that fact. Couldn't do anything else, really.

Looking forward to the next instalment...

7:35 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

Have a great time! Love the song. Lovedreadign about the memories and descriptions of your background.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Jellyhead said...

Hope you had a great paddle!

5:53 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

I had my first paper route when I was 11. I delivered the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times all over my Suburb. Sundays were hell.

5:05 PM  
Blogger paisley said...

the song you chose as an accompaniment could not have been better... i had to turn it on and do a re read.... oh rel i am so thrilled you are telling me this story... i just love being a fly on the wall of someone else's world...

9:27 AM  

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