Growing up on the streets of South Euclid was easy. I walked to elementary school, to the ballfield, and to my friends’ homes. I hadn’t discovered the opposite sex, so if it didn’t rain I played ball every day. While abroad the Russians launched Sputnik beating us into space, and while at home my parents’ marriage was spiraling south, to me….the world was one beautiful oyster. I had not a care.
(So long as it didn’t rain).
Life was just that simple. We couldn’t get in trouble if we tried.
(Well, that’s almost true).
Jerry Wolf lived on Beaconwood. He was bigger, older, and a bully. He never hit us, but he had this bizarre fetish for taking our baseballs and hitting them onto the roof.
One summer evening he struck. As he laughed at his deed, I, for one, stared at the roof. For some reason I thought the ball would just magically come down. Stuart was more realistic. To my amazement Fenton nimbly scaled the building. There, atop the edifice he triumphantly held up the ball for the world to see before dropping it back to earth. Our hero!
Moments later the police drove by, cited Stuart, and demanded that he come down. He then received a personal escort home (across the street) where he got “in trouble:” with his parents.
We were told Stuart had a “record.”
I am reminded of this story today because the paper ran the tale of a family suing a school for damages resultant from the school’s failure to stop the bullying of a student.
Back then schools were more proactive in protecting kids. Ask Bob Snyder how many times he was called to Miss Roth’s office at Rowland and the answer is a resounding “Just once, because of Bogart.”
He still chooses to blame me but the fact is that the two of us published a newspaper called the “________ Times,” ridiculing some kid that had the nerve to be a good student. Sounds stupid, but we typed it on my Dad’s typewriter, used carbon paper to duplicate it, and stood at Bayard and Wrenford Roads before the school bell trying to sell or give it away.
Bob says that the principal told him “I can understand this kind of behavior from Bruce, but not you.” My sense is, one half century later, that this is but urban legend.
It was, after all, also my virgin appearance in her office.
There’s no great moral here, no great lesson. Times were simpler when the only threats were the rain and Jerry Wolf. Simpler, but no better.
I’m in a good place today.

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