My mother didn’t like Cleveland, and we moved back to Pennsylvania in the fall of 1961. We moved into a house not four miles from Boxmead Farm, the house where she’d been born, where she had been discovered in bed with my father-to-be, and where we’d moved to when I was one, after my mother and father had split up. My stepfather kept his job in Cleveland. He would fly down to Philadelphia Thursday nights and fly back Monday mornings.
My sister and I were put into single sex schools attended by previous generations of Biddles, The Episcopal Academy for me and The Shipley School for my sister. The stripes on my jersey are Episcopal Academy stripes, symbolizing the ten qualities that an Episcopal student is meant to live by: Self Control, Faith, Honesty, Courtesy, Kindness, Generosity, Gratitude, Courage, Respect, and Sportsmanship. It was a homogeneous (WASP) school population, and classes were academically rigorous. It’s coed now, but when it was all boys, it was brutal. It only takes one or two sadistic teachers to sway the culture, and the boys were often unfettered, especially before and after school, when many of us commuted by train. In the morning we rode with businessmen going to work in Philadelphia, so we had little room to misbehave, but the afternoon ride was known as The School Train, and it was bedlam. There we were effectively unsupervised and acted out our most savage impulses. I remember one cold winter afternoon sitting in a double with three other boys, one of whom stood up to punch another. He swung wildly and broke the window of the ancient railway car. Our regular conductor was Charlie, tall, thin, bespectacled, and normally long suffering, but this time he was furious. He pulled the emergency cord, and the train stopped between stations. Charlie angrily lectured us and took down names. The four of us were called into the office of the head of Middle School, “Jolly John” Jarvis, a stuffy, mustached Scotsman with ramrod straight posture. He lectured and shamed us, but he didn’t make a dent in our behavior.