May all our words and deeds e’er uphold thy glory

One of the great things about my k-9 school Daniel S. Dickinson was that it had a library. I’m pretty sure now, though I didn’t think about it then, that it was part of the Binghamton Public Library system. Not every school had such a facility.

One of the librarians was Mrs. Genevieve Taylor, who attended my church, Trinity A.M.E. Zion, less than two blocks from my house. She was a black woman, as was another church member, Beccye Fawcett, a librarian at the main branch downtown, where I worked as a page when I was in high school. I wonder if they had an effect on my future vocation.

At some point, there was this Peter Max poster at the Dickinson library, and I wondered who Die-lan was. Mrs. Taylor said, “It’s Dil-lin.” Oh yeah, I HAD heard of him, just didn’t recognize the name.

In sixth grade, Mr. Paul Peca, our favorite teacher, challenged us. I remember a class debate on whether the US should have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He was pro, mostly of us were con. We also had a mock Presidential election. Lyndon Baines Johnson beat Barry Goldwater, 13-3. I still remember who two of those AuH2O voters were. The following year, several of us walked up to his house, near the airport, to visit him.

We had a class newspaper. Karen wrote an epic fantasy story story about meeting the Beatles. She later got into the music business and promoted John Lennon’s Double Fantasy in 1980. Later, she worked for a label that carried Paul McCartney’s albums. In 2015, around my birthday, she came up to a hearts party I was having and regaled my friends with wonderfully detailed stories about Paul and marmite, and also Johnny and June Carter Cash.

For what we then called junior high, Dickinson was a school that got kids from other schools, such as Oak Street; see Don Wheeler’s great report of his trek to Dickinson, a semester before I moved up to 7th grade.

In junior high, which was 7th through 9th grade, there was an infusion of new kids, from other elementary schools, including Oak Street, Wilson (I think), and the parochial school, St. Cyril, which was right behind our playground. In elementary school, we called them St. Cheerios and they called us Dixie Cups.

There was this black girl named Bernadette who passed me a note so blatantly that people thought something was going on between us. But she was merely a conduit for her friend, a redhead named Dawn. But I was too holy/naive to respond to her overture.

(Dawn and her boyfriend/husband moved next door to my family on Gaines Street a few years later. There’s a Stupid Physics Tale to tell, if you’re interested.)

We had Mr. Frenchko (the assistant principal) and Miss Gertrude Kane, of the purple hair, for English. Mr. Stone was a social studies teacher; friend Karen boldly corrected him when he referred to the band Cream as The Cream.

I can’t remember the shop teacher – Mr. Williams, I’ve been told – but I recall being really bad at wood shop, and I was always blowing up ceramics in the kiln. But I was surprisingly good at metal shop.

We had a junior varsity basketball team, and I was the “manager”, which meant I schlepped equipment. Our team with David, Ray, a kid named Lonnie and others, was pretty good. We lost to East Junior High, 60-58. Afterwards, the East girls beat up some of the Dickinson girls.

Mr. Joseph was the 9th grade homeroom and biology teacher, who was married to Mrs. Joseph, the music teacher. He thought my father was “crazy” to quit the security of his boring IBM job, moving stuff on some sort of forklift, especially to take a job at Opportunities for Broome, a federal OEO program.

By the time we finished 9th grade in January 1968, there were again only 16 of us, I believe: Carol, Lois, Karen, Irene, Diane, Bill, Bernie, David and I, together since kindergarten, and Ray and Jim, but there were Walter, Joanne, Pamela, Richard, Chad, and two girls named Marlene at SOME point in junior high.

Ugh, memory fails.

More soon.
Someone in this narrative is having a birthday today! HB, Sara Lee.

IN response to a previous post: It’s four o’clock somewhere

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