He simply materialized in front of my snow glazed eyes. I could not mistake his helmetless visage, his orange jersey with black numerals, gold pants and black high-top shoes. He didn’t speak to me; and I hadn't passed out. Nevertheless, at that moment, in that place, in my physical exhaustion, Ed's visitation seemed entirely plausible. In a split second, like a condemned man who sees his life flash before him as he is about to be executed by a firing squad, I was reunited with Ed. I saw us meeting for the first time in the summer of 1958 at Weequahic Park. I saw myself shaking hands with his gaunt, steel beam of a father. I remembered us beating Linden in the first game we played together. I saw us in the rain and in the mud. I saw him repeating numbing practice drills when everyone else was ready to quit.
Miraculously, his sudden appearance in my mind’s eye filled me with an adrenalin-like surge of energy; and then I was standing in the semicircular grouping of our huddle. I was the last one to get back. I said nothing. I put my hands between my legs for warmth, listened to the play, and then struggled again to hear the quarter back’s count. We lost by two points. In time, I forgot about this hallucinatory athletic moment.
More of my thoughts on Eddie Barker continues March 4, 2022 in the “WHS Note.” Warren.
Ray Drake’s (1/50) Weequahic Word Association, Part II:”
Fire House-on the corner of Leigh Avenue and Bergen Street across from the Park Movie. My next-door neighbor on Shephard Avenue fell asleep while smoking. The bed caught fire. He called to report the fire and went to the front door to unlock it. When the fire truck arrived, one of the firemen came running to the unlocked front door and without trying it smashed the upper glass portion of the door with an axe. He never tried the door to see if it was unlocked. They put out the fire with an extinguisher. They had to get the door repaired.
YM-YWHA on High Street-where I learned to swim in the indoor pool in the nude.
Mr. Ben Epstein-my Homeroom and Biology Class teacher who was a Socialist. He trimmed his mustache between classes. After the National Scholastic monthly news bulletin appeared in October of 1950 reporting my election as National Vice President of Junior Achievement Companies, he would call me Mr. NAM (National Association of Manufacturers).
Phil Roth-always wore short sleeve sweaters.
Weequahic basketball team-State Champs for my freshman and sophomore years.
Larkey's Store-was on the corner of Halstead and Market Streets downtown where I bought my first long pants and stopped wearing knickers. Ray
Sandy Margolis- lived on Shephard Avenue and had a pair of Tom Mix cap guns with holsters.
Phyllis Henig-lived across the street and once took me to Olympic Park in Irvington.
Dave Breitkoff-lived at 149 Shephard and could kick a football in the street from light pole to light pole.
Roger Soloman-of Shephard Avenue whose family had a TV and we watched Texaco Théâtre on Tuesday evenings.
Joan Del Gercio -was Phyllis Henig’s best friend and her dad worked for the Newark Sanitation Department.
Julius Kohn's butcher store-on Bergen Street where Bill was his assistant. I worked there after school and on Saturdays for 4 years as a delivery boy on a bicycle with a big basket and small front wheel.
Snacks at work were ham slices with a slice of cheese and sauerkraut rolled up like a fat cigar.
Lyons Avenue apartments-near Elizabeth Avenue where Mayor Ellenstein lived and his maid gave me 25 cent tips when I delivered there.
Jack Tabachnick’s Deli-on Bergen Street near Lyons Av where they had barrels in front of the counters filled with pickles and green tomatoes. He sold the best tongue sandwich on rye.
Look for Part III in the next edition of the “WHS Note” on March 4, 2022. Ray