Butterflies, paisley shirts, and round-tipped shoes

It was about this time each year, when, as a lad, I know my days of marathon stick-ball games, three-on-three hoops games, “Risk” and “Hit the Beach” tournaments, chess games, all-day “Around the Ship Tag” aboard the U.S.S. Massachusetts, and just plain lazing around were nearly at an end.

Those nights coming in “when the street lights came on,” would become more like time for bed “when the street lights came on,” at least for a while, when in the dead of winter they came on at around 4:15 p.m.

Friends I saw every day during the summer months would once again become weekend-friends if they went to a different school. 

The girls for whom I developed a “never-ending” crush while at the beach, would become a distant memory once that first math equation sat before me like a numeric Rubic’s cube.

The nights of being able to listen to Ken Coleman, Ned Martin and Mel Parnell broadcast Red Sox games on the left coast would end — at least my parents’ knowledge of my listening that late would end (with the references to St. Augustine by my colleagues Fathers Tim and Dave in their columns this week, I feel it’s OK to reveal this iniquity).

All of the things that kept a semi-mischievous young lad occupied during the dog days of summer were grinding to a halt.

It was back-to-school time. Time for me to awaken with butterflies in my tummy. Why? I, to this day, don’t know. I would always get very nervous before the start of a new school year.

I attended St. Anne’s School in Fall River for nine years, and I loved the Sisters who taught there (99 percent of them anyway). So I can’t explain my goofy gut.

We were allowed to wear “civilian” clothes the first few days, and that meant I would get a new shirt to wear. I always dug getting a new plaid, or even better, a paisley shirt. Even today, most of my dress shirts are plaid. My wardrobe of paisley shirts today is non-existent. I’ll have to make a more conscious effort to amend that — but as usual, I digress.

New shoes were in order sometimes. I say sometimes because I rarely grew out of my things year after year. Aside from my waist size, I could probably still wear some high school stuff!

I was never a fan of my new shoes (sneakers yes, shoes no). Some of the “cooler” boys wore shoes with pointed toes, ala Fonzie from “Happy Days.” My shoe tips were always rounded. Round didn’t translate into cool.

After a while it didn’t matter. The boys were all in our white shirts, blue pants and blue clip-on ties. The girls had blue jumpers and white blouses with a blue ribbon tie type thing around their necks. And there were also the little blue beanies — a far cry from the sandals, bathing suits, sunglasses and towels they wore but a few weeks earlier.

After about a week, the butterflies departed and I was able to settle in for a new school year. It was quite nice actually, being surrounded by friends; wonderful Dominican Sisters; our parish priest; hot, constantly cracking radiators; and traversing across creaking floors.

As a lad, summers were great, but all things considered, so was the school year.

Recently, thanks to Facebook, I went out to lunch with one of my childhood friends. I hadn’t seen her in nearly 40 years. What was planned as an hour get-together, turned into a three-hour “remember when” session. It was as if the years stood still. 

I miss those days.

To all you lads and lassies back in, or going back to school, enjoy it to the max. It will fly by.

Good luck to all of you embarking on a new journey; especially those with the butterflies in their tummies.


© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts