First Day of High School
Early September 1964
A 100% virgin freshman. After warming up at No. 9 and Shull schools, I finally arrived to the big time downtown on State Street, even had to take a bus from Budapest to get there. First day at the famed “Halls of Ivy”.
The day started with quite a bang. Outside, before the entrance bell rang, Jimmy Morrow, who had a reputation for picking fights with anybody for any reason at any time, was doing his thing with a very reluctant Lee. Even though Jimmy wasn’t very big, nobody wanted to fight him because he was nuts and didn’t mind getting hurt. After about 10 minutes of Jimmy humiliating Lee and trying to goad him into a fight, Lee was mercifully saved by the bell and we were all relieved that Jimmy hadn’t picked us for his HS debut.
With that bell we all went up to our home rooms for the first time. My homeroom turned out to be No 201, Zelda Dubin’s, and would be for the next four years. Everybody’s last name in the room would start with an A or a B. Zelda’s husband, George,was also a teacher there and taught boy’s health. We loved the sex ed part, or what passed for sex ed anyway. We got our juvenile kicks out of the course, a silly kick similar to when you would discuss in geography class the name of South America’s biggest lake, Lake Titicaca.
I walk out the front door on this fine, warm, sunny September day. The sidewalk outside the school is crowded and chaotic as students from all four grades were standing around everywhere and chattering about their new teachers or classes or whatever. As I make my way through the crowd and toward my bus stop, I see some older guys standing against the wall near the corner of State and Smith streets. They had slicked back hair, blue jeans and black leather jackets, your typical greaser or “Newark” look. As I approach, one of them extends his hand to me in sort of a welcoming, handshaking manner. I think maybe I know this guy, maybe he’s a friend of one of my older sisters or something. As I put forth my hand to return this friendly gesture, his friendly gesture suddenly becomes a very unfriendly slap in the back of my head. “Get outta here ya punk freshman“ he says. Stunned, I meekly make my way to the bus stop. My first day of school. I’ve been traumatized for life. Was it going to be like this everyday? Is this what High School is like. Maybe it was some sort of necessary initiation ritual. There was probably a life lesson in there somewhere, maybe, ahhh probably not, that guy was a just another greaseball asshole in a leather jacket. Mercifully the next four years were not nearly as traumatic as my very memorable first day of classes at the old Halls of Ivy.