To the editor:
The four of us had just finished supper and the dishes were done and we decided to watch some TV. My wife, myself, the cat and the dog. By a vote of three to one we picked "Jeopardy."
The dog does not like Alex Trebeck. She prefers the history channel or Fox news. So we placed her in our bedroom with the remote and we locked the door.
When "Jeopardy" was done I had sharp chest paints and a migraine headache. At the age of 86 I have to be careful. So I told my wife I was going to turn in early and I needed a cup of hot Ovaltine. During World War II there was another beverage called Borden's Hemo. That hot and Ovaltine is conducive to making me sleep fairly easy.
While I was waiting for the Ovaltine I noticed a book on the tray stand. It was Bob Going's book on World War II veterans. I opened it and I will cut to the chase. I had another Ovaltine, two Pepsis and a plate of peanut butter and saltines. I picked up the book at 8:10 p.m. and I went to bed at 4:45 a.m. the following morning.
The book is comprised of a picture of a service man, date of birth, date of death, home address, method killed, and a complete biography on one page. The first picture I looked at was Carl Anderson. In previous letters to the editor, I listed a group of boys who each put in 25 cents to give to the janitor at Woodrow Wilson School so that we could play basketball while he was cleaning up. Carl Anderson was one of those boys.
The next page I looked at was a picture of Chuck Dugan. He had a partner named Chuck Bennison. They were inseparable. He died in Europe. I picked out 12 or 13 men I knew on a first-name basis. I had to put the book down and I wonder if you would mind taking a trip with me down Memory Lane. I won't disappoint you. There is a method in my madness.
Let's go to the clock building and go up Brookside Avenue, past Pakenas Dry Cleaners and the Sealtest plant where they made choco pops and fudgesicles. We are now at Meadow Street. Another 20 feet and we are inside Harmon field. That should ring a bell. Inside is a wooden circular building where you could avoid the rain, the sun, put on your swim trunks, or eat your lunch.
On one end of the building a young man would dispense whatever athletic equipment you requested and you would sign your name to a sheet. When you left that day, you turned your stuff in, and he took your name off that sheet. You could then walk past the playground to the swimming pool. It was all concrete and filled up each day at 8 a.m. and emptied at 6 p.m. There was no sign of a lifeguard and you could really hurt yourself if you weren't careful. It wasn't much, but it was all we had and you couldn't beat the price. It was free.
Let's go back down to the clock building. Straight down was Shuler Street. To your left was a penny candy store owned by the Getsfloff family. In later years, a dear friend of mine named Freddie Botch ran it. Directly across the street was a place called Couples Three (in recent years). Prior to that it was a tavern owned by a retired policeman and his son named Harold and Bill Teeter. No bad noise there. Bill was quiet and an athlete at Amsterdam High School. Just down the street was Keeler Plumbing and Heating. You should remember. Johnny Keeler and Tony Lasky were the back bone of Amsterdam High School basketball. Later on were the Amsterdam Textiles.
Up on the hill, behind them, was another penny candy store owned by a man named Walter Jasper. His family lived on Trinity Place. There was Doris, Norma, Chuck and my all-time favorite Walter Jr. Mr. Jasper immigrated from Europe and lived to be over 100 years old. The 100 also denotes the most he ever weighed. Next door was an associated grocery store.
Across the street from there was the Sky Harbor bar. Next to that on Mechanic Street lived the Yetchnney family. One of the boys is in Bob Going's book. When I was real young the three boys invited me to sleep over. We were going to sleep in the yard. It was August. My mother gave the OK and we only lived a block away. She gave me a pillow and a blanket.
Now we will see why they referred to me as mental midget. The four of us went to sleep outdoors. At 4:30 in the morning we woke up ringing wet from the dew and freezing to death. The boys' mother had us all go into a bedroom and strip naked. She then ironed our clothing. They were dry and they invited me to stay for breakfast. We each had a bowl of Post Toasties cornflakes on which she placed two teaspoons of sugar and the nightmare began. There was no milk and no money to buy milk. This was 1938 and she poured water on the flakes. They tasted like they had been eaten once already.
I'd rather French kiss a cobra than be subject to another bowl of cereal like that.
There is a purpose in my explaining all this to you, but I am getting very tired and if it's OK with you I'll meet you one block down on the corner of Market and Green next Saturday morning. Thank you for your patience and this epistle has a meaning. We will leave from Dr. Fitzgibbon's red brick building and go down Green Street. We have quite a few stops to make yet.
James J. Sheridan,