By Richard Mabey Jr.
Our story so far: It is Tuesday, the seventeenth of June of 1969. My second day of summer vacation. I am 15 years old and have just completed my sophomore year at Boonton High School. It is my second day of painting the interior of Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church’s infamous Thorpe Hall. During my lunch break, I hand wrote an essay of what scouting means to me. I plan on presenting it to Mr. Marino, Editor of the Lincoln Park Herald, to see if he sees it is worthy of publication in his newspaper. At about three o’clock I clean up and walk to Moe’s Sweet Shop to buy a couple of comic books. At the sweet shop, Tony Savorti, the town bully, mocks and ridicules me in front of Mary, whom I have a big crush on. I leave Moe’s Sweet Shop and begin my walk home. Our story continues.
I walked past Steve’s Barber Shop and waved to Steve. He waved back to me. In that very moment in time, I did my very best not to cry. The hurt swelled deep within the chambers of my heart. Tony Savorti’s cruel words rang through my heart and mind, over and over again. I was so very jealous that the girl to whom I had such an enchanted crush on, Mary T., agreed to go on a date with Tony. My life was crumbling right before my eyes.
I came upon the intersection of Main Street and Beaver Brook Road. In a split-second decision, I realized that I needed some alone time. I needed to walk the old trail along the Morris Canal. So, I turned to my right and began walking down Beaver Brook Road. There behind the Shop-Rite, was a narrow path in the woods that led to the ribbon of pathway that ran along the old canal. It was like coming home for me.
As I entered the forest, a comfort began to befall upon my heart, mind and soul. I felt the presence of my paternal grandfather, Watson Mabey, as I reached the old towpath of the canal. When I was younger, Grandpa and I would often walk the towpath together and he would tell me stories of growing up along the old Morris Canal. He would spin yarns of his remembrances of his brother, Earl, and himself, helping his father work the family owned icehouse that stood near the foothill of Incline Plane Ten East.
The singing of the birds; the scurry of squirrels climbing the tall oaks, maples and elms; the hope of seeing a white-tailed deer; the blue sky; the smell of wildflowers abundantly growing along the old towpath, combined in my senses and inner being to bring some degree of comfort and healing to my wounded heart center.
I reached the foundation of my great grandfather’s icehouse. William Mabey, my great grandfather, made a good living from selling ice to the captains of the many canal boats that waited at the base of Incline Plane Ten East for their turn to ascend the great hill. In many ways, it was pure genius of my great grandfather to build the icehouse, as a way of providing food and shelter for his family.
As I sat at the foundation of the old icehouse, I looked out to the still, calm, murky waters of the old Morris Canal. I cried my eyes out. I missed Grandpa so very much. It was only a year ago that he went Home to be with the Lord. I still deeply mourned his passing. I thought of all the things that I should have told the town bully, Tony Savorti, when he mocked and ridiculed me inside of Moe’s Sweet Shop.
I thought of all the moments in time that I shared with Mary T. How we walked to school together, just about every morning, going all the way back to the first grade. How we would walk home together and laugh at something silly that our teacher said or about something that happened that day in class. I had always thought that she would be my girl. Now, I had lost her to the town bully.
Sure, Tony now had a job working at the corner gas station in town. And, Tony had the cool hot-rod car. But he was rude and crude. I just didn’t know how I was ever going to carry on, without the hope that Mary T. would someday be my true-blue girlfriend. The sting pierced the deepest chords within the innermost chambers of my heart. My childhood crush and I were drifting apart. As I sat upon the foundation of the old Mabey Icehouse, I cried and cried and cried till I could cry no more.
To be continued.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.