1961

My mother didn’t like Cleveland, and she and my sister and I moved back to Pennsylvania in the fall of 1961, to a house not four miles from my mother’s father’s house, Boxmead Farm, where she’d been born and where we’d lived after my mother and father had split up. My stepfather kept his job in Cleveland. He would fly from Cleveland to Philadelphia Thursday nights and fly back Monday mornings.

My sister and I went to family schools, single-sex, 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 back then it was all boys,and it was as brutal as any of the three boys schools I attended. It only takes one or two sadistic teachers to sway the culture, and the boys were often unfettered, especially since many of us took the train to and from school each day. There we were completely unsupervised and free to act out our most savage impulses. The train in the morning was with businessmen going to work in Philadelphia, so we didn’t have room to misbehave, but the train in the afternoon was the School Train and was bedlam, with virtually all students from different schools. I remember one 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. The train was stopped for ten minutes between stations while the long suffering but this time furious conductor, Charlie, lectured us and took down names. The four of us were called into the office of the head of Middle School, “Jolly John” Jarvis, but that didn’t really change our behavior.

 
Kelly Nowels