It was 1979, and we were at High School, on the third day of school.
We were Seniors but this didn't mean that we couldn't be expelled for leaving the building without authorisation, for instance.
It did mean that our parents had that much more invested in our futures, which would include driving by FHS (public) graduates in our new Mercedes' and splashing them with mud, as they lift trash cans into the backs of garbage trucks.
They would be in their lot because, at its most distilled level (and they way it was chatechised to us); FHS kids smoke pot and have sex, then drop out and never go to college.
This might not be their fault; they may have come from bad families, families not good enough to be able to fork over a tuition check to the diocese; to avert little Junior from a second rate existence.
Families that smoked pot and had sex.
We were "fortunate;" and we knew it.
Just looking around at all the young gentlemen in their sports coats, shirt, tie and shiney shoes was like seeing a preview of a future, when the halls of STB will have morphed into law offices, banks or a big computer company (don't laugh, we were hearing that the computer industry would be really big someday.)
The jackets, shirts, ties and shiny shoes would all be a lot more expensive then, and would broadcast to the world the message "Sure I got this at Shack's, why not? It's not like money, at that level, is of a great concern of mine."
And, we would be splashing FHS kids as they did manual labor by the roadside; even the girls would be.
To be expelled would be akin to falling in socio-economic status; and all the kings horses and all the king's men, couldn't get you into Harvard, again..
It was the third day of the school year at Saint Bernards Central Catholic High School, early September.
Sister Joan (Mulcahy), principal, was up on the podium in the auditorium, at the microphone.
She was telling a group of underclassmen exactly how to behave, if they didn't want to get expelled.
She mentioned specifics, all preceded by "There will be no..." (gum chewing, talking in the halls), or "You will..." ( wear your jackets in the hallways at all times; report to class before the bell rings, anyone caught in the hall after the bell for then next class has started will be, etc. etc)
Fear coursed through the auditorium like ripples in the veins of those underclassmen. She could expel you, and you would never, as long as you live, be able to list Saint Bernards Central Catholic High School on an application for college.
When Sister Joan got to the part about "No one is to leave the building for any reason whatsoever!!," and set down the penalty for doing so, she got very serious (i.e. talked to them like adults.)
She pointed out that, for reasons related to insurance coverage, for one thing, STB could really get screwed, should anything ever happen to a student who left the building without authorisation. Her tone of voice changed and she made it clear that this was the most egregious offence that could ever be committed. It was almost like we could "eat of any other fruit in the garden...."
I remember the words to this day because, as she was saying them, I had just tip toed past, behind the curtain which the podium stood a mere five feet in front of, and was pushing open the side auditorium door. I had stashed my sport coat in a janitor's closet, according to plan; and let the door close behind me while her words reverberated inside.
I would then hop on my moped, stashed under a staircase for this purpose, and ride the seven miles to Ticketron, in Searstown Mall, to purchase four tickets to see the band The Cars at the Boston Music Hall, October 8th, 1979.
The jacket, I left behind, so that I wouldn't look too much like a truant STB student, despite the tie flapping in my face, and I chose to fly down Airport Road, and not the more busy John Fitch Highway, to minimise complications.
Tickets were to go on sale at 10p.m. sharp, and I would be there 15 minutes early, depending upon the wind conditions on Airport Road.
Caisse Of Irony
|Mowing Down Twins Along The Way...|
Almost two million people would show up.
I mention this because I bought four tickets, two of them were to be for the Caisse twins, Jeff and Joe (pronounced "cayse").
They were fraternal twins and I was friends with both of them (even though another good friend of mine, Ted Broughey's opinion of the boys was "It's seems that they each have half a brain.")
It came to pass that Jeff and Joe were not allowed to go to see The Cars, because of the presence of The Pope. Their mother wouldn't let them. She thought that they would be in danger of being trampled by two million devout Catholics.
I wound up enjoying the concert with one other friend who had a braver mother, we sold the two extra tickets without much problem, a girl rubbed her breasts on me on the way out; and a splendid time was missed out on by the Caisse twins, Jeff and Joe.
(We would have been closer than row 23, had I bought a block of two instead of four tickets, but, after 32 years, I am starting to forgive the Caisses. )
I also got to see the pope from about fifteen feet away (my reward for braving to tip toe past Sister Joan at the same distance?) when his motorcade cut the corner where I was standing rather close, necessitated by the length of his convertible limousine.
There were no reports of trampling.
But, back to the story of "The Great Moped Ride":
How did I manage to leave the building without my absence being discovered, you ask, dear reader?
Herein lies the genious behind The Great Moped Ride!
Zero Places At Once
My first period class was math with Sister Cecilia, who was probably in her 80's.
Being the third day of school, she probably hadn't memorised our faces, no matter.
I purposely did not go to Sister Cecilia's math class.
I waited in the janitor's closet where I stashed my sport coat.
A few minutes later, Donna Dower, another student of Sister Marcella's walked past, carrying the absentee list, one which had on it, at least, "Daniel McKenna."
She had to go through the gym, because the auditorium was filling up with underclassmen for the "beginning of the year," speach by the principal, touched upon already.
A few minutes after that, there was a crackle from the intercom and "Daniel McKenna" was called to the office, by the raging voice of Sister Lourdes O' Malley.
She was a diciplinarian and feared by many.
She had checked my name on the absentee list against the general list, compiled first thing in the morning in homeroom, and learned that I had been in the building at 7:45 a.m., but had not made it to Sister Cecilia's math class.
This meant that I was in the building somewhere (because no one is allowed to leave for any reason, under any circumstances -except a fire drill, but we will cover that in a minute..).
|The Motorcade, Then The Cars...|
I then appeared in front of Sister Lourdes, repentant and giving her a story about having trouble with my locker.
She said that she hoped that I hadn't forgotten my combination, I had three days to memorise it, and if I couldn't do so, I wouldn't do well at Harvard...
I described a mechanical problem, wherupon she said "Well, you go directly to class, and don't let it happen again!"
Sister Cecilia thought that I was being detained (scolded) at the office, and Sister Lourdes thought that I was going directly to her class.
This allowed me to be neither place, and after having to sneak past the principal, at the high point of her speach, I was on The Great Moped Ride of '79