The Outline of my Life

1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974

1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991

1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004

 

1970

11 years old.

Fifth - sixth grade.

I'm almost suspended from school for hitting a girl who was teasing me. I also tell my teacher, Miss Stockman, the sweetest little old lady you could imagine, that I was laughing while she was teasing me because I wanted to rip her throat out with my naked fangs, a rhetorical flourish I picked up from reading Jack London books. The poor thing looked like she was going to pass out from the shock. Needless to say, I was forbidden to read any more Jack London books.

That summer I went to Canada for a week with Dad, Tipton, Duke and Gus

The Canadian Trip was an important rite of passage. A week hanging with my Dad and his drinking buddies. We drove up to Canada, and then were dropped off in a prop plane in the beautiful, deserted lake country North of Minnesota with 2 canoes and a tent for an entire week. We found a beautiful little islet between a fast-flowing stream and a large lake and set up camp there, and settled down to a week of fishing, drinking and exploring. The men told ribald stories about dames and we fished and ate the best-tasting trout I ever had. On the Thursday of that week the men realized that they still had most of the booze they'd brought and decided to spend the day drinking so they wouldn't have to haul it back out with them. That's when I pulled in the biggest fish I ever caught and had my first taste of whiskey. They offered it to me from the cap of the bottle and I drank it down. It burned like fire, something I'd never expected. My whole body was seized with a spasm of disgust. My dad laughed his ass off.

Start sixth grade with Miss Grifero, one of the strictest teachers at Wade.

This was when they started bussing in black kids from the north side. I remember standing in the schoolyard looking at the buses, wondering what these kids would be like.

I'd grown up in a household without hate or prejudice. I barely knew what racism was. But I'd heard about it from TV, and our Pastor at Reen, Bill Lesher, marched at Selma with Dr. King, and was in the background of one of the photographs in the LIFE article on it. But I'd never met anyone who was black, and had no idea what to expect.

Dad marries Joyce on January 17th. They had a very simple little ceremony, and moved into a little house in St. Ann.

 

Tony Patti
Senior

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