Saturday, January 25, 2014

Loughlin Days?

 Another new arrival on the block was the Galvan Family, and they would have an even greater impact with lasting repercussions. Ismael Galvan was a skinny little kid who I nicknamed Gopher during the Summer of ’68 because of his resemblance to a cartoon character who wore a baseball cap and sunglasses like he did. He liked to play catch with Mark and we soon began putting stickball games together. He had a short fuse, though, and one time he came at me and I ended up bitch-slapping him. He disappeared after that and I didn’t see him again until next summer, when he and I joined forces to create the Butler Street Jets football club as well as becoming the first BSWC Tag Team Champions.

By the time Fall ’68 rolled around I was in the midst of another personality crisis. John was going to John Jay High School and spoke little about it. Looking back, he may have been dealing with as much turmoil as I, and resorted to bullying and pranksterism back in the ‘hood as a way of coping. I was still channeling the Sheik (and sometimes his manager, the garrulous Grand Wizard) as one of the real ‘characters’ in my freshman class, with a fun-loving Irishman named John Hickey acting as my foil. On the home front, Harold and I were still friends but it was evident that we were beginning to drift in different directions as our tastes and attitudes grew more adolescent.

John Hickey and I hit it off from the beginning, but unfortunately our friendship didn’t develop any further than constantly ribbing one another. I also made friends with a black kid, Mike Hanson, who learned of my xenophobia during a couple of classroom discussions and backed off as a result. He embraced the black activist movement thereafter and left some disturbing remarks on his senior yearbook profile which I hope weren’t inspired by yours truly at any time. Ribbing was part and parcel of the growing-up process at Loughlin, and one of my fiercest ribbing pals, Ivan Zamora, also became a good friend. He actually came out to visit Butler Street once though he had his own life and the twain was not going to meet with us.

Two other good friends were Rich Mc Curry and Remus Labutis, both of who were hockey players at Loughlin. Rich came out and played a marathon game one afternoon with the Stars on Columbia Street. Remus invited me to his neighborhood for a highly competitive (though non-hitting) game, after which we watched the Rangers on TV with his Dad. I made quite a few friends during my time at Loughlin, and only wished I had been more involved with campus activities that would have created fonder memories and a richer history of scholastic accomplishment. Unfortunately, most of my time was consumed by the Jets, but my stardom on the street far exceeded anything I could have achieved at Loughlin. Looking back, I can see how the Lord made everything work out to perfection according to His purpose.

Another close friend was Pete Halpin, a second-generation Irishman who had a fantastic personality, an incredible character and a serious drinking problem. We got together during my senior year and he came to the house a few times for drinking sessions, football games and just hanging out together. Unfortunately, his problem was far greater than anyone suspected, and the last couple of times I saw him on campus he was totally plastered. I never knew what brought his demons on, and I only hope he found victory through Christ and is enjoying a happy and prosperous life.

(To be continued...)

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