Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Mark, Tom, and Bill, in the Lewis Basement, Minneapolis, 1968

Went to a memorial celebration honoring one of the old "neighborhood kids" yesterday. Of the twenty or so boys that used to hang out together, Bill was the first to go, unless you counted his brother, who had died just the month before (and wasn't really involved with the rest of us that much.) It was a group whose members all came from an extremely small geographic area- literally a stone's throw separated us. I was the outlier, a little older and living across the street, but I spent untold hours with these guys, playing games & cards, making 8mm movies and radio dramas, doing darkroom experiments and just killing time.

But those days and nights weren't wasted. We were each learning how to become ourselves, and we did all right. Bill was the contrarian, but he had a sense of humor, and had no sense of malice. We were living in the present, without irony or pretense. The vices of adulthood, excepting a few "incidents", were years away. The idea of an actual "fight" between any of us never entered our minds. We had our own words (in a dictionary!) our own cinema (where we would fight), and, ultimately, our own little world.

I left home first, the siren call of romance can be like an on/off switch when leaving childhood. The world I left behind kept going, indeed, it never stopped- they still field a softball team which has played together for nearly 40 years. Bill was the team's videographer and play by play announcer, each year he would compile a highlight show, which was the highlight of the team banquet.

Looking back at that time, I can honestly say that I don't regret a minute of it. Bill was a big part of that scene- he was the guy in the middle, he was a guy who took his own path, he was a guy who took the youngest kid (who had lost his father) under his wing, and he was a guy who gave me a copy of the Walt Disney comic with the "Flip Decision" story.

That was the story about "Flipism" which introduced me to "Professor Batty."

By Professor Batty


Blogger Cellar Door said...

I had a group of girls who would sing in the garage. We favored Patsy Cline tunes.

I can still do a damn fine, "Walkin After Midnight."

Blogger Mary said...

It's interesting how the death of your old friend brings back details of what was going on when you were spending a lot of time with him.

I had a similar experience recently when an old friend died suddenly. He was a co-worker at my first Silicon Valley software job in the mid 1970's. I have been thinking more about those (good) times than I have in years.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

They were good times, no compromises, no phoniness, just plain kids, entertaining themselves.

Anonymous Jon said...

Hopefully, we all had some good times such as those. Flipism: the birth of a notion.

Blogger Rose said...

Ha! Jon.
I am fortunate enough to be able to get together with an old friend from gradeschool, whom I have seen only once in the past 38 years. She is as lovely as ever. Your post reminds me of some of the things I want to talk to her about: memories of her home, her father ... things I thought I'd forgotten long ago. So why can't I remember what I did last week?

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