Friday, September 9, 2011
At lunch yesterday, we were reminiscing about the first day of school and how, when we were kids, we always started school the day after Labor Day and we felt sorry for the kids nowadays starting in the middle of August. Of course, we did not have the snow days and teacher conferences, etc., that cause days to be "made up" now.
I commented that on the first day of school the school bus door would open and I would be overwhelmed by the smell of NEW CLOTHES! I always insisted that my new clothes be washed but the boys always wore their jeans with just the tags removed. One of my classmates always had the legs of his jeans rolled up several times. Others made fun of him behind his back and I always wondered why his father didn't buy jeans the right length. My mother said that he probably couldn't get the right waist/length combination because the guy was, as she said, "husky". Of course, my mother altered the jeans of my brothers if they did not fit but this guy's mother had deserted him and his father ("ran away with another man") and, of course, in those days, a single-parent household was unusual, especially with just a single father. He had no one to "hem them up"! Years later, the classmate and I were reminiscing and he was surprised that I knew about his living conditions. I told him, "My sister-in-law was your baby-sitter when you were young!"
Two years ago at a fund-raising brunch at our home, I had invited the classmate because he said he would like to meet the candidate. My younger brother beckoned for me to come to him and he leaned over and whispered, "I can't believe that you would have him at your house." Stunned, I asked why and he said he would tell me later. After the event, I asked my brother what had caused his animosity toward the classmate as I'd always felt sorry for him because he grew up without a mother. My brothers said they didn't feel sorry for him because we were poor and he wasn't. My brother told me that the guy was a bully, which I had not known. That brother is four years younger than I and I said, "You should have told me; I would've kicked his ass!" My other brother said, "Yeah, Ruffy Silverstein!" That was a nickname I'd forgotten! Ruffy Silverstein, the wrestler, was one of our favorites! This was before we knew wrestling was phony but one really couldn't tell much on a 12-inch TV screen. My mother was a dedicated wrestling fan. You can imagine her dismay when she and my father went to Columbus to see her favorite wrestler "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and she saw from ringside how staged the matches were. She returned home and she never watched wrestling again!
My brothers and I started throwing out names of wrestlers: Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Antonio Rocco, Bobo Brazil, Gorgeous George, Hans Schmidt, Bronco Nagurski, Angelo Poffo and one I did not remember: Sandor Szabo!
It's interesting WHAT people remember. In getting ready for a class reunion, I was sorting pictures and on the back of Jean Ann's picture was written, "I'll never forget our little 5th grade wrestling champion Ruffy Silverstein." In searching for a photo of Ruffy to include with this piece I learned that there is a current Canadian wrestler who uses the name Ruffy Silverstein. What an homage!