Life Lessons Growing Up
|My father had a rough life. His father died when he was 16 years old and he never got to finish high school. He had to get a job to support his mother and three younger brothers. He had a chip on his shoulder but his family came first and school was second. He became an office worker because he could read and write really well and was a smart young man.
Then WWII was coming and he was dating my mom who was getting out of the orphanage at 18 years of age. She stayed at really tough place to grow up so when she met my dad. Pearl (my mom) was happy to hook up with him to get out of the orphanage. They got married on New Years Day at the NYC courthouse because they could not afford a regular wedding. Then came the children, Ellen, Janie and Leslie all born in N.Y.C. and so they decided to buy a new house in New Jersey just a short commute into N.Y.C so my dad could work nights at the Post Office sorting mail. He was good at it and practiced in the cellar at our house in his free time. He eventually moved up to a supervisor position. There is an old saying that people who work in the post Office can go “Postal”. What that means is that working in the Post Office can make you go crazy and in many cases, a disgruntled P.O. employee would come into work with a gun and kill their bosses and anyone else who pissed them off. My dad dealt with a lot of crazy customers and pissed off employees every day because his bosses didn’t want to do it. So, when he came home, he didn’t want any home front problems. If there was, it was generally me for something or another. He would get on my case for not getting straight A’s in school like him and could not understand that I was not like him at a younger age. It didn’t help that I was the smallest kid in my classes and the target of bullies every day.
One day, my Uncle Martin and Aunt Rose came to visit us in N.J.one weekend. My uncle Martin asked how school was and I told him that a big bully was picking on me. He asked me if I told my dad and I said “yes”. He then asked to tell him what my dad told me? “he told me to run away” I told him. That really got my Uncle Martin upset because his only child Joel, didn’t want to have a relationship anymore with Uncle Martin and my Aunt Rose. Joel was married with kids and living in Florida. Not seeing his grand kids growing up was very upsetting to them both and a subject never was discussed at the dinner table. My Uncle Marty did a lot of neat things for me and my sisters like we were his own kids. My Uncle worked two jobs. One in the post office and another at a Dell comic book company which also printed baseball cards and he would bring me hundreds of comic book magazines and baseball cards which I could trade with my classmates for stuff. He grabbed my hand and found my dad working in his workshop with me in tow. “Harold, did you tell David to run away from a bully at school?” Martin asked. My father answered “yes I did”. Uncle Martin then said, “That’s the worst advise I ever heard a father tell his son, you know this bully won’t stop picking on him? Did you go to his school and complain to the teacher or Principle?” My father responded “I don’t time for this crap Martin”. My Uncle Marty said to my dad that he would take care of this problem for him. But my father acted like Martin was just angry at him and nothing would come of it.
The next weekend my Uncle Marty and Aunt Rose showed again but this time there was a man with them. He was a Jujitsu instructor friend of his that my Uncle Marty paid to come out to New Jersey and teach me how to defend myself against a bully. My father objected and asked Marty who was paying for the lessons? Uncle Marty told him that he was going to pay for the lesson(s). There’s going to be more than one lesson? My father asked. Martin said he was coming back next weekend to finish his lessons. “You’re paying for that too?” My dad asked. My Uncle responded “yes”. Then my father agreed to the man teaching me as long as he didn’t have to pay for the lessons. Those lessons had completely changed my life forever. I now had confidence in myself to take on the bully that was tormenting me and making me the laughing stock at school.
Monday rolled in and at lunchtime the bully as expected, came looking for me. This time I didn’t run away and all the school kids thought I had lost my mind and had gathered around in a circle to witness me get my ass whipped. Then the bully lunged at me. I grabbed his hand, stuck out my leg and tripped him to the ground. He didn’t expect this and all the kids in attendance started laughing at him. This really got the bully mad and he jumped up quickly and lunged again at me. I tripped him again to the ground. Each time this occurred I gained more confidence in myself. The bully must have landed on the ground at least 5-6 times and with each time he ended on the ground the classmates laughter got more and more on his nerves. He got up took one more attempt at me and again I put him on the ground but this time I stood over him and yelled out “You ain’t ever going to bully me again” and kicked him as hard as I could, right in the ass at least three or four times. Then something happened that was unexpected…. He started crying, got up and ran off the school grounds to home. All the kids were cheering and the bully’s rein of power was over. Everyone came up to me to congratulate me and patting my back for a job well done.
A couple of days later my teacher came up to me and handed me a letter addressed to my father. I went home that day not sure what the letter was for but gave it to my dad just before he left for his nightshift job at the Post Office. He opened the letter, read it and then looked down at me and commented “So you got into fight with a kid at school and now the principle wants to see me. What did I tell you to do? he yelled at me. “You told me to run away but Uncle Marty said that if I stood up to him and protected myself he would leave me alone for now on.” I told him. My father was mad and told me that when he got home from work in the morning that he would go to the Principle’s office and get to the bottom of the problem.
I was really worried the whole night. I knew by the tone of my father’ voice that I was in some bad trouble. I went to school the next day and about 9 AM the Principle’s secretary came to the classroom telling my teacher that I had a meeting with the Principle. All of my classmates let out a (you’re in trouble now tone) and glad it wasn’t them going. I was really scared especially seeing my dad sitting on a wood bench outside the Principle’s door. As I approached my dad he murmured, “Boy, I don’t know what type of mess you have gotten yourself into so let me do all the talking”. I nodded to my dad that I got the message loud and clear and then the door opened. The Principle was a man in his late forties/early fifties dressed in a nice suit. As the door opened, he greeted my father and said “Sorry Harold for dragging you in here today. You still working the Post Office at night?” To which my father nodded his head to the man and we both entered his office. Sitting to the left of us was the bully and his mother. The Principle made a brief introduction to my dad and stated that I had beaten the heck out of the bully causing him to have to receive medical treatment at the local doctor’s office. My father looked over at the bully and asked him to stand up. Then he looked at me and told me to stand up. Then he looked at the Principle and said “You expect us to believe that David beat up this kid? He’s got to be two foot or more taller than David.” Remembering my dad’s words to not say anything I said nothing. “Now Harold I’m having my doubts that this incident ever happened and no teachers saw this happen either. I think we all just need tell these boys that fighting at school isn’t tolerated and give them a warning and let this go.” said the Principle. And with that the bully jumped up out of his chair and yelled “He kicked me in the ass”. The boy’s mother then stated that my kicking him really hard did some damage to her son’s anus area. My father responded back that maybe her son should drop his pants so we all could see. To which the bully’s mother said “absolutely not”. The Principle chimed in and said the case was settled. My father asked if he was free to go?” Yes Harold, sorry for dragging you in here. Go home and get some sleep. Take care.” My father shook the man’s hand and we exited the Principle’s office. Once outside the office my father looked at me and said, “you really kicked his butt?” to which I replied “ Yup, wish you were there to see it”. My dad looked at me grinned and said “He was a big kid, but you shouldn’t go around kicking bullies in the butt or you will become the new bully. Do we understand each other?” I nodded back to him and was really proud that for once my dad understood what it was like to be me for a change. I’m still on the small statured size but my courage has never been questionable. I never ran away from any sort of fight ever again and it made me the person that I am today. I owe a big thanks to my Uncle Marty for listening and teaching my dad a valuable lesson in how to raise your child.