Early 1930’s in the midst of that other great depression, mother Julia, a ravishing redhead from New Jersey, looked out at her son (known only as Pap at that time) hitching a free ride on the back of the Ice truck thru the streets of Brooklyn. “That boys gonna make something of himself” she whispered. If she only knew.
Just a few short years later, Pap attended his first year of Boys High, doing the 1:30 to 5:30 shift in an overcrowded school. This schedule prohibited him from playing baseball, so in the next year he transferred from Boys High to Grover Cleveland, where he would play baseball and Basketball, taking the elevated train to school and home after practice, a long day.
Upon Graduation, Pap followed his Brother Louis into the Navy. It was a necessary choice, as the other option on his 18th birthday would have been being drafted into the Army. This decision proved fortuitous, as it both paved the way for his adopted son to attend the naval academy, and his stringent training as an electricians mate. His eventual abandonment of that career path was a shock to his family, but most likely prevented a few for him.
Shortly after his discharge, he moved in with his older sister Dorothy, and contemplated his future. With his longtime interest in Physical Education, encouragement from his sister, and personel drive, he applied for and attended Mohawk College in upstate NY, where he played ball and completed his 2 year degree. When I asked him what motivated a kid from Brooklyn to pursue a college education at that time when most of his friends were content to find hourly work in the city, he attributed it to his experience in the Navy, seeing how so many of his shipmates lacked any formal education, and that he wanted to have the same opportunities of the officers on Board. This and the GI Bill paved the way for this future Penn State Alum.
This week I was able to finally get a bet on a football game with Pap Pap. He had Ohio State, and I Oregon. The bet began even for one US Dollar. Once Ohio State took the lead, he mumbled something about out $2 bet. Needless to say at the end of the day, Pap Pap was again on the right side of the bet. When he woke up yesterday, he asked me when I intended to pay him for our $25 bet. We need to go back to Boston now while I still retain title to my home.
Susan, Joey, Catherine and I sadly say goodbye to Pap Pap for now, knowing he is in good hands with MJ, Timmy, and his wonderful friends here.
Ta Ta for now…