Diary of a Scout Leader: Remembering Thorpe Hall, Part III By Richard Mabey Jr.

Our story so far:

It is the first day of summer vacation of 1969. I am 15 years old and have just completed my sophomore year at Boonton High School. It is nearing high noon and I have spent the entire morning painting Thorpe Hall of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, for my Eagle Scout project. After eating my lunch, a man comes to the door and begins banging on the door and demanding that I let him in. Fortunately, I had locked the door. I try to huddle out of sight of this man, who is continuing to hammer on the door and scream for someone to let him in. 

“I know someone’s in there! Let me in! Ya’ hear me, let me in,” the man screamed outside the door. I trembled with fear. This is long before cell phones. There was a telephone in the kitchen. But in order to get to the telephone, I would have to walk by the door where the man that the man was pounding on. Since there was a glass window on the upper half of the door, he would be sure to see me.

I crunched up in a ball, my knees against my chest and I trembled. I prayed and prayed and prayed for the man to go away. Then, suddenly, the screaming stopped and so did the terrible booming of the man pounding on the door. I looked out the window, just barely looking out so that I was not in full view. And, I saw the big, tall man, in the parking lot, walking away from Thorpe Hall. I was just too shook up to do any more painting.

It was a little past one in the afternoon and I quietly walked toward the kitchen to use the phone on the wall. As I passed the window on the side door, that the man had been pounding his fist on, I looked outside and there was no sign of the maniac. I walked to the telephone and called my mom.

When my mom answered the phone, I told her what had happened and I asked her if she could come down to pick me up. Mom said that she would be right down. While I waited for my mom, I gathered up my paint cans and paint brushes and rollers and placed them neatly atop my folded tarp. A few minutes later, I heard my Mom knocking on the door. I was so glad to see my mom outside the door.

I opened the door for Mom to come in. As soon as Mom came in, she gave me a great big hug and told me that everything was going to be okay, that the man was gone now. In some ways, I felt ashamed to be so scared. In another way, I was just so glad to see my mom.

My class picture from my sophomore year of high school, at the age of 15. I never thought of myself as being popular or one of the cool kids in school. So, when popular, cute Mary Tafano invited me to her birthday party, it all seemed like a dream.

Once inside Mom’s car, Mom asked me if I wanted to stop at Moe’s Sweet Shop for a malted milk. I didn’t hesitate at all. After all, Moe made the best malted milks in the entire state of New Jersey. So, Mom drove around the block and parked on Zeliff Street and we walked into Moe’s Sweet Shop together.

I had paint all over my shirt and dungarees. I also had some paint in my hair. Plus, I was still a little bit shaken up about the maniac pounding on the door of Thorpe Hall and yelling and screaming at me to open up the door.

Just outside of Moe’s, I opened the door for Mom. And, there she was, sitting at the counter with one of her friends. One of the cutest girls in my class, Mary Tafano. Mary had an incredible resemblance to the actress, Patty Duke. She was just that cute.

As Mom and I walked to the one of the tables to the back of the sweet shop, Mary smiled at me and we exchanged hellos. Then Mary giggled a bit and said to me, “Richie, did you get any paint on the walls?” I was so embarrassed. I had forgotten how much paint that I had all over my shirt and pants, not to mention how much paint I had in my hair. I softly replied, “I got some paint on the walls.”

Then Mom and I sat down at the table in the back of the sweet shop, closest to the counter. Mom smiled at me and said, “well, you are covered with paint.”

Mom and I both ordered chocolate malted milks. I felt so conspicuous to be sitting in the sweet shop all covered with paint. Then, what was about to happen, felt like a dream. I almost had to pinch myself to believe it was true.

Mary’s friend paid Moe for her soda and left. But Mary stayed. And, to my surprise, Mary walked over to the table that Mom and I were sitting at. Mary said hello to Mom and then Mom said hello to Mary. Mary lived only a couple of blocks down from me. We both lived on Main Street.

Then, out of the blue, Mary said to me, “Richie, I’m having a birthday party this Saturday at three o’clock. You’re welcome to come, if you’d like.”

At first I was lost for words. Cute and popular Mary Tafano was asking me to her birthday party. I had never thought of myself as being one of the popular kids or one of the cool kids. And here it was, Mary Tafano, who looked like Patty Duke, was asking me to her birthday party.

I trembled as I told Mary that I would love to come to her party. Then Mary smiled and said to me, in a very teasing way, “well, don’t be late.” The Mary said to my mom, “it was nice to see you Mrs. Mabey.” Upon which my mom simply replied, “it was nice to see you Mary.” Then Mary turned around, paid Moe for her soda and walked out of Moe’s Sweet Shop. As she opened the door to leave, the little bell above the door rang. Then, suddenly Mary was gone.

My mom smiled at me. Moe smiled at me as he brought the malted milks to our table. The door slowly closed and I watched Mary walk by the big glass window in the front of the sweet shop. My heart pounded like a big bass drum. What a day it was, so far.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.




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