Friday, October 28, 2016


As a youngster growing up in Brooklyn, many were a number of times the Church and my school tried to instill in me a passion for prayer. After a report card, in particular, I could recall the devotedness I had in prayer and the reality of facing Mom with the marks and the Holy Rod, a wooden spoon. I thought that maybe I would be martyred and part of the folklore of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

My prayer left a lot to be desired and lacked some accuracy in the way I prayed.

“Hairy Mary,
 filled with grape”, was one prayer.
“Our father who art in Heaven

Harold be thy name.

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on Earth,

as it is in Heaven.

Give us this steak and

Our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us,

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil.”

That demonstration above was because Dad sat me down one day while Mom wasn’t in earshot and taught me the prayer his way. He felt that praying to both Jesus and his Mother was a good idea. For years I thought I was saying it right until one day, Miss Walsh, my third-grade teacher leaned into my kisser with her right hand, a blow to the right side of the face. I went home with a note and Mom read it.

“WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SAY THAT?” (SMACK) Mom was a perfectionist.

I just couldn’t rat out Dad, he was trying to instill some religion in me.

Of course, there was a review of my prayer technique.

“Our father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name. Once again: “WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO SAY THAT?” (SMACK) Mom was still a perfectionist.

Perfection was difficult to master, especially when your face is smarting. It was the only thing smart about me!

My prayers were centered around summer vacations in my secret little world. Not that we went anywhere, but I didn’t have to go to school. No white shirt and blue tie, no egg salad sandwiches for lunch and no regimentation all week, and the absence of homework was just delightful.

For many years Mom did not know that my hearing was sub-par. My marks or grades reflected it and so I hated school. In those days the teacher could apply corporal punishment without the fear of a lawyer the next day. They were free to smack you around when you misspoke, gave up a wrong answer or misbehaved. These were the good old days!

 My deadness attributed to my sense of surprise most of the times.

“Class, hand in your homework!”

 Me: Homework, what homework???

Having an older sister didn’t help my case.  She did everything right and I didn’t. Not that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know I had to. She would stay up under the covers with a flashlight doing homework while I tried to get some rest. She counted in numbers while I counted in days until Friday. Yes, I was in trouble.


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