Time Is On My Side

Woodlawn Cemetery, Wellesley, Massachusetts

“Back in 1899/When everybody sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’/A hundred years took a long,long time/For every boy and girl/Now there’s only one thing to know/Where did the twentieth century go?/I swear it was here just a minute ago/All over this world.” – Steve Goodman, “The Twentieth Century’s Almost Over,” 1977

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979. I gather my yellow legal pad and pen and smile as a compact, amicable young man sits down across from me. He is both energized and dehydrated after an hour’s performance and gulps several glasses of seltzer-water as he answered my question between mouthfuls of refreshment. As we sit down at an oversized maple sideboard, a gaggle of devoted members of the audience approach the young man, asking him for an autograph. He makes small talk with each of them, and signs his name, Steve Goodman, on assorted pages of the Living Section of a discarded Boston Globe.

At the time, I well knew the young performer’s music. Nine years previously, Steve Goodman had composed an American musical classic, “The City of New Orleans” – “the best damn train song ever written,” John Prine had gushed when he first heard it. It was Arlo Guthrie’s popular version of the ballad, which made it a cash-cow for the Chicagoan ever since. Throughout the 1970’s, Goodman had subsequently composed indelible memorable tunes for such musical luminaries as Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffett, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, John Denver, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Emmylou Harris. While his own cult status was mostly limited to the East Coast and his native Midwest, nevertheless, Steve Goodman had culled an enthusiastic and loyal following.  

Steve and I ended up talking about the unforgiving entertainment industry, his recent Grammy for acoustic-guitar performing, and why he had unfairly remained a footnote rather than a star in the musical world.

Just before it was time for his second set, I asked Goodman a final question: “Why would you write and record a song about the end of the Twentieth Century when we have nearly a fifth of the century yet to go?”

The singer-songwriter smiled for a minute and then stated, “You know, there’s an answer to that which I will tell you after my set is over. Okay?”

“For sure,” I replied. Goodman then hopped up onto the stage.

“Does anyone remember the Great Depression?

I read all about it in True Confessions

Sorry, I was late for the recording session

But somebody put me on hold;

Has anyone seen my linoleum floors, petroleum jelly –

And two world wars?

They got stuck in the revolving door –

All over this world.”

Even thought he was barely 30 years old at the time, Steve Goodman recognized that time didn’t march on like some interminable battalion. Instead, it seemed to stealthily tiptoe on its own variable pace. As the singer-songwriter himself wrote, “All we have left are those memories/That are most deserving to recall.” It was obvious that Steve Goodman believed that fervently.

Exactly 40 years after I spoke with the seasoned musical performer in Cambridge, I found myself reminiscing with a twenty-something faculty member at school about the first “Armistice Day” Parade I attended as a six-year-old in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I smiled when I recalled my father, still young and vibrant, marching with a legion of his fellow World War II veterans. At the front of the parade, however, strode a beaming nonagenarian who still had a pronounced spring in his steps. I soon learned from my mother that he was a cavalryman in the Spanish American War. We showered him with hosannas as he passed by our perch near the Wellesley Town Hall. When I shared this antidote with my fledgling English teacher-friend, she looked at me with amazement. “Good God,” she sighed.

My late mother seemed to comprehend the essence of time and its bridge-like effect when, one day, she asked me to shake her hand. I then looked at her with puzzlement. She paused and then exclaimed, “When I was a little girl, my Great Uncle John Whiting purposely shook my hand and said, ‘Now you’ve shaken the hand of someone who fought at the Battle of Antietam.” Mummie then smiled at me and bellowed, “So you too can now say that you’ve shaken the hand of someone who shook the hand of a relative who fought in the Civil War!”

I then recalled that when I was a little boy, I used to cuddle next to my grandmother and ask her what life was like in “the old days.” She talked to me about horse-drawn milk carts, the fabled Blizzard of 1896, the brilliance of the night sky before Edison. To me, it seemed as if she had lived an eternity. 

Now I know differently. When I took my oldest son to Fenway Park for the first time in 2003, Max asked me why the aisles and seats in the old ballpark were so narrow. “Because Fenway was built in 1912,” I replied. “It was designed for nineteenth-century bodies. People were much smaller back then. Our diets increased and improved over the years.” 

Towards the end of the game, I glimpsed at one of the seats and imagined my grandmother, a tiny, fragile figure, a remnant of the 1800’s, sitting in her chair – quite comfortably – rooting for Cy Young and Babe Ruth in Red Sox uniforms.

“Winter’s getting colder, summer’s getting hotter

Our wishing well’s wishing for another drop of water

Mother Earth’s blushin’ cause somebody caught her

Making loving to the man in the moon.

Now how are you going to keep them

Down on the farm

Now that outer space has lost its charm?

Somebody just set off the burglar alarm

And not a moment too soon.”

Because of modern time’s population explosion, more than three-fifths of all human beings who ever lived were born in the past eight decades. Consequently, people did more living in this time period than in all the other centuries combined. On the downside, more humans died in war from 1914-1975 than in the previous thirty centuries of human existence. In contrast, billions of people live more substantive, energetic, healthy lives than ever before. Names, places, items, art, music, linguistic expressions, and fads – even nations and their governments – have come in and out of our lives like passing ships.

To those who lived through the past seven decades, the progress we have observed has been incalculable. In 1961, for instance, the United States launched its first astronaut into the cosmos, Navy Commander Alan Shepard. His Mercury 7 spacecraft spent just 15 minutes in space before splashing down in the Atlantic. A Mickey Mantle popup went higher than Al Shepard, quipped comedian Shelley Berman at the time. Just eight years later, three American pioneers ventured 226,000 miles into deep space, landed on the moon, and returned safely to Earth. Last week, I asked my eighth-graders how many of them had ventured to at least two continents in their short lives. Virtually everyone had. The new generation have become world-travelers as a matter of course.

Still, there are detriments to such progress. If modern times were given a motto which could capture the previous one hundred years, it would be… “With Progress – Nothing Lasts.” Consequently, each decade seems to be its own Brigadoon; it dissolves into the mist – never to be seen again. As those of us who have lived through the Twentieth Century know, the 1950’s were an extraordinarily different time from the 1990’s. We almost could have been living in different centuries. For most of the history of the world, however, progress was hardly noticeable. People perished in the same spot they were born in. For years, I taught a searing historical novel to sixth-graders called The Borning Room. It centered on the room off the kitchen where members of the same family were born, were sick, had children, and died as old folks in the same room. The only thing that changed was their age. 

In our modern world, though, if one moves away from his or her hometown and returns ten years later, the place is hardly recognizable. Even change in the workplace is both exhausting and whimsical. In 1984, I began teaching with an authentic educational mentor, Mrs. Edith Whelden, who started toiling at The Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts, the week after the Germans invaded Poland and World War II began. When she finally retired as a teacher in 1987 – Edith was a staple at the school for 48 years – she chuckled as she mimeographed her last math handout: “I began my first day getting purple on my hands, and here I am nearly 50 years later still getting purple on my hands!” 

Like Edith Wheldon, I began with mimeograph-purple ink on my hands, but that was scores of changes ago. Today, I use Google Classroom, a SmartBoard M600, and a Lenovo PC as my teaching weapons by choice and decree. Edith Whelden’s professional career was framed within the context of a three-mile an hour world. In comparison, mine has been at Mach 1 speed. In the end, life today is not written in granite but in ever-changing sand. No wonder a lot of us have been clinging to the past.

“Old Father Time has got his toes a tappin’

Standin’ in the window grumblin’ and rappin’

Everybody’s waiting for something to happen,

Tell me if it happens to you.

The Judgement Day is getting nearer

There it is in the rearview mirror!

If you could duck down, I could see a little clearer –

All over this world.”

With the Cambridge audience singing and clapping along, Steve Goodman completed his second and final set singing the refrain of “The Twentieth Century’s Almost Over.” He then shouted out to the Passim crowd: “Let’s celebrate before it becomes passe!” Everyone instantly laughed and gave him a heartfelt standing ovation. Steve walked off the stage and motioned for me to join him at his table once again. 

After he had drank a quart of fresh water, Goodman remarked to me: “Shaun, you asked me why I wrote ‘Twentieth Century’ with 23 years left in the 1900’s? I composed it because you never know if you are going to be around for such an event; you could drop dead at any moment. There have been so many crazy things that have happened our time, despicable, head-scratching things. That said, everything that I have ever loved in this world also existed during this time. When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2000, there will be a lot to say goodbye to then. Don’t you think?” The performer shook my hand briskly and then disappeared into his dressing room. 

I did not know then that he was undergoing extensive chemotherapy in that fall in 1979. He would live five more years and die, much too young at 36, a victim of leukemia. Thus, Steve Goodman would not live to see the ticking of the millennium clock in Times Square on January 1, 2000.

For the past few weeks, I have thought about Steve Goodman. I have also thought about the scores of people who ended up touching my soul through the past 65 years. Many of them have passed on; many are still a vibrant presence in my life. All of us, however, are rooted in the times we experienced together.

Recently, when I visited my hometown, Wellesley, Massachusetts, I ended up walking around the local graveyard, Woodlawn Cemetery, as tranquil and beautiful a resting-place as there is in New England. I stopped and reflected at the gravesites of friends who died too young in car crashes, cancer, or various addictions. I paid my respects to a host of family and friends who had encouraged me as a child. I paused at the monuments of teachers who had seen something in me that I hadn’t recognized previously. I even weeded the grounded nameplate of one of my loyal customers when I was a bag-boy at the Wellesley Super Market. Unlike her venerated daughter, Sylvia, whose tombstone in England is an iconic spot for thousands who visit it each year, Aurelia Plath’s memorial has been untouched since I last weeded it the previous year.

As I turned the far corner of the cemetery, I stopped at a final resting-place, my parents’ gravesite, which overlooked the site of our family’s old house on adjacent Radcliffe Road. Suddenly, I could hear my parents ghostly laughter. After all, here was their youngest child standing above them now as an old man. “Welcome to the fold!” they seemed to say. “Enjoy it all while you can, and remember – enjoy the ride! After all, you’ll never know when it will end.” 

As Steve Goodman told me during his interview with me forty years ago this month, “Our time here on Earth is the connective tissue for us all. That is why we should never forget that we’re all in this thing called life together.”

As Virgil once wrote: Omne momentum rei est pretiosum, habens in essentia finis. (Every moment is a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality.)

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The Last Outdoor Shower of the Year

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It is precisely 7:30 am on the stove clock as I open the screen porch abutting our kitchen. I traipse through our porch, wrapped in a massive Boston Red Sox towel. I then maneuver down the wooden steps towards the base of our outdoor shower less than ten feet away.

From early April to Columbus Day Weekend, I have taken scores of showers here. However, on this mid-October day, it’s getting colder, and the fall weather is getting too brisk for both bodies and water pipes. Thus, this will be my last outdoor shower of the year. In the distance behind our house, an abandoned nest of a family of ospreys, who deserted their salt marsh home the previous month, now lies vacant. To me, this is a tangible reminder that change is the essential ingredient to any New England season.  

As I alight our stone steps, I quickly open the latch of the shower and clamber inside, hanging my towel up carefully on a hook on the left side of the structure. Four stately scrub pines frame the cobalt sky above their finger-limbs, brushing back and forth from a relentless east wind. The sun creeps across the marsh and makes splotches on the rust-colored pod that forms our outdoor shower. 

As I take off the last of my undergarments, a chilling wind cuts through me like a knife, a calling card that another Massachusetts winter is fast approaching. As I turn the nozzle to the left for “high heat,” the caw-caw cry of a recalcitrant crow greets me with an arrogance that is almost reassuring. His hubris reminds me that it is I who am the visitor on my own property.

Steam commences arising from the shower as I begin to lather myself under a beckoning sun. I am suddenly enveloped in its prevailing warmth, which staves off the biting, 50 degree-temperature morning that had greeted me. The mid-autumn sky is cleansed to such a degree that it seems as if God Himself washed away any shadows. 

As I continue to soak my hair, the blustery, chick-a-dee-dee-dee call from the lowest branch of a nearby red maple from an adult chickadee welcomes me like an old friend. I smile when I remember that I once fed many of this little bandit’s ancestors as a boy. I would place sunflower seeds in my outstretched right hand and then watch as a small flock of “the cheeky ones” picked them off my palm in a series of fearsome swoops,

As I finish rinsing, I then glance out at the salt marsh to my right and see the golden colors of the marsh blend with the blueberry-colored water of the North Atlantic that has seeped in with the tide. In another two hours, the entire marsh will be flooded by water pouring in from Cape Cod Bay. Above the ocean-swamp, I eventually observe a colony of seagulls begin to pounce on some unsuspecting minnows. A few of them dangle in the mouths of the gulls, who dart away from the scene with a nonchalance, which is almost breathtaking. 

Even though the water for our shower is from our own well and doesn’t cost me a thing, I firmly twist the handle to the left. As the son of an environmentalist-mother who donated the adjacent salt marsh to the Eastham Conservation Foundation, I have been taught that nature is not a place to visit. It is home. 

For the next five months, my showers will be upstairs and indoors until the season of new life – spring – visits this fragile outpost once again. 

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The Boat Meadow Salt Marsh at high tide from our “backyard.” It flows out to Cape Cod Bay, less than a mile from this point.
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Ollie Ollie In Come Free!

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In the days of yore, before Smartphones and Instagram, as many as 70 children would play heightened games of hide-and-go-seek in my old neighborhood in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Ultimately, those spring and summer afternoons 50 years ago not only framed our childhoods but taught us a myriad of life lessons as time unfolded like shuffling cards.

Originating in Great Britain hundreds of years ago, the childhood game was eventually brought over to the colonies during the 1600’s. By happenstance, each corner of the British Isles formed its own version of hide-and-go-seek, initially called, “All-ee, Outs in Free.” This was a euphemistic call from the person who was “it,” and letting those hiding children, otherwise known as “the outs” that it was now safe to come back to home base. 

Even as the game evolved along with the English language, local town criers, most notably in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, commenced calling out the phrase, “All-Ye, All-Ye,” meaning to beware of the information the crier was about to proclaim to the townspeople. Accordingly, when Irish, Scots, and Welsh immigrants emigrated to the New World and brought their language and traditions with them, “Ollie Ollie In Come Free” became Americanized over time as the password to use to reconvene in games of hide-and-go-seek. 

As a child in the 1960’s, I regularly participated in this time-honored contest in the tree-lined community where I grew up, Wellesley, Massachusetts. At the apogee of the historic Baby Boom, this most communal of games formed our own twentieth-century, social-media platform. Because of the vast amount of children being born in Eisenhower America, a local developer, Ralph Porter, constructed four and five bedroom houses during the winter of ’55 on a 1/2 mile road, which meandered, like all New England streets do, by rock, whim, and angle. Our family moved into our brand-new dwelling at 48 Radcliffe Road on April 30, 1955 – when I was a little more than three months old. Exactly a decade later, 109 children between the ages of 1 and 17 inhabited the 29 homes on our street.

One of our senior neighbors, who resided at the corner of Hobart and Radcliffe, often complained about the battalion of youngsters who would file in groups of 15 or so, treading together en masse to school. “Here come those damn kids!” he would yaw as the offending children formed a movable Jersey Barrier, trekking down the street in sync. I was terrified of his cantankerousness at the time, but these days, I can only smile. I guess the wondrous thing about growing older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve experienced in life. 

Back then, of course, our childhoods were largely autonomous. If afternoon or summer jobs did not govern us because we were too young at the time, we were only obligated to show up at our houses for both lunch and then dinner. For as much as nine hours during the day, we were blissfully on own. Our parents, who had been framed by the Great Depression and World War II, believed both in fresh air and little adult interference. In a world where there were only four television channels available, all we had was each other.

That proved to be more than enough.

Because we instinctively intermingled like a gaggle of geese, we knew each other’s quirks, qualities, and foibles. We even recognized the distinctive clang of each family’s dinner bell. “Time to go home for supper, Art, Anne, Charlie, and Jeannie!” we would bark when the Garrity’s chime would ring out. (Sometimes, even their dog, Sam, would venture home at the sound of the bell). My own dinner signal was the Town of Wellesley’s idiosyncratic fire whistle, which would habitually blow from our community’s firehouse at precisely 5:45 each evening. It’s deep-throated crescendo still throbs in my memory even though it made its last appearance in town many years ago. 

While we all experienced some nicks and bruises along the way, our Greatest Generation parents believed that you only came home during the day if you were bleeding. My tough-as-nails mother was typical of the kind of “suck-it-up” attitude that prevailed among the adults on the street. As I joked years later, if Mum had been in Dealey Plaza when JFK was shot, she would have told him to walk it off. 

Ultimately, we kiddies played together all day and into the evening on weekends. When school was in session, we would inevitably walk together to our various schools. For six years, for example, Brian Fay and I routinely trudged to either the junior high or high school in concert. If the timing was right, we would then be joined by neighbors Jay and Sally McCreery, Peter Reed, Charlie and Ann Garrity, and Wendy and Holly Seiler. By the time we reached Hobart Road, Phil Carens might amble out, sleepy-eyed but still rarin’ to go. By that time, we might have as many as a dozen kids with us. To us, security was omnipresent; there was always safety in numbers. We felt both unquestionably safe and alive. The vast majority of us believed that childhood was the kingdom where nobody died.

Like most kids back then, sports remained the epicenter of our neighborhood lives and followed the course of seasons without exception. We played touch football in the fall; street hockey and basketball during the winter and spring seasons, and baseball or whiffleball during the summer.

This beehive of sports activity depended upon geography and circumstance. Hockey and baseball were played first at the Patrick’s at 49 Radcliffe Road, but when they moved to California in 1965, both playing fields were shifted to the Fay’s next door. Football was reserved for the Sullivan’s front yard up the street. Because we had the best hoop and the flattest driveway, my brother and I hosted countless games of basketball over the years. There was only one problem – an overhanging tree limb that often blocked players’ shots to the basket. When that occurred, we would roar, “Blocked by Cliff Branch!” – as in the then-famed wide-receiver for the Oakland Raiders. 

Because it was our house and our driveway, I began to practice how to make an inconceivable bank shot off the storm window of my parents’ bathroom window and into the net. After a ridiculous investment of trial-by-error practice, I ended up getting pretty good at it by the time I was 10. Because there were so many youngsters to compete with at the time, I was continuously seeking the ultimate home-court advantage.

Within the confines of Radcliffe Road, my family was known as the “White Kellys,” because our dwelling was painted white with dark green shutters. Residing next to us, however, were the “Red Kellys,” a family whose house was decidedly scarlet. A palpable rivalry ensued within the neighborhood community where kids eventually had to take sides in a world where there were no shades of gray. We had the Fays and the Patricks, for instance, firmly entrenched with us. Our weapon of choice, of course, were the bountiful amount of crabapples that fell on both of our properties and the surrounding environs. At the time, I assumed that our little rivalry was, at best, provincial. Consequently, I was astonished when a friend from Elmwood Road, more than three miles away, asked me if I was a White Kelly or a Red Kelly. I guess controversy traveled long and far in those days.

Situated in the Fuller Brook section of Wellesley, Radcliffe Road buttressed the western end of Wellesley’s prominent cemetery, Woodlawn. Hence, when one of us observed a hearse from either Waterman’s or Leo J. Doherty’s, our town’s two primary funeral homes, creep slowly down adjacent Brook Street, the word would soon spread: “There’s gonna be a funeral today.” For the vast majority of neighborhood kids, including my brother, Mark, this was a manifestly undesirable event, and they stayed well clear of such proceedings.

However, there were a few of us who were well…intrigued. After a service was over, we would subsequently hide in the trees or even behind gravestones and watch a myriad of Woodlawn employees do their thing. We were there for the entire process – from the mechanical shovel that scooped out the earth to the installation of the cement casing to the subsequent lowering of the casket into the ground. In the summertime, these same workers would meticulously place artificial grass over the soil and then move to their next assignment.

Usually, the entire job would take several hours. The most haunting part of the process – and I mean that in the most literal sense – would transpire during the lull of the proceedings when the men would take their lunch breaks. In the meantime,  the deceased’s coffin would lie on top of the ground like a discarded camp trunk – waiting to be buried for all of eternity. 

As a couple of us hid behind two headstones, one of us would whisper to the other with a heady mixture of glee and horror, “Are you brave enough to sprint to that casket and tag it?” Even the thought of doing it so horrified us that it gave us nightmares, but that was all part of the charm.

Of course, the head “cemetery man” knew all about we neighborhood kids who liked to play on Woodlawn’s property. Thus, he was forever threatening to call the police whenever children were playing on a human-made hill owned by Woodlawn. Over time, this singular mound of soil, which sloped down at a gradual incline like a bunny-trail ski slope, reached more than thirty feet into the sky. Because virtually all of our dads were World War II veterans, the massive pile took on much greater proportions in our prodigious imaginations. Ultimately, it became the foundational site for an ongoing neighborhood version of the Battle of the Bulge. One enterprising Radcliffe boy, Mark Fuller, brazenly announced one day that he was a five-star general. We immediately gave in to such sweeping ambition.

Before the hill was removed bit-by-bit by the late ’60’s, we played “war” on it for hours, especially on weekends. This turned out to be our introduction to politics, negotiation, and psychology. Predictably, we were always trying to look for an angle. On one occasion, when we were ensconced in a protracted battle with the Red Kellys, I intuitively slid around their house, hid in the bushes at the base of their porch, and overheard their secret plans to take over “Fortress Fuller” on “Cemetery Hill.” When I reported back to General Fuller,  he broke into an Eisenhower-like grin and then slapped me on the back, bellowing, “You’ll be decorated for this!” 

During the dog days of summer in pre-air-conditioning America, there were times we didn’t want to cavort too much, and so we essentially stayed put on such searing days. Consequently, we invented a little town of our own at the top of the street in a chunk of semi-woods, which we named, “Pinecone Village.” We each made a tiny home and played out our childhood loves by “coupling” with someone who would then share our little domicile for the summer. Thus, neighbor Holly Seiler became my first wife.  

When winter visited in the days before global warming, we sometimes had as much as 100 inches or more of snow. Therefore, we had two options for sledding. The Sullivans had a decent slope at the end of the street adjacent to Brook Street, not far from Pinecone Village. However, because Radcliffe Road had one of the steepest hills in all of Wellesley, we usually blocked off the street with a concoction of both toys and rakes. Those of us with either sleds or toboggans would then commence at the Garrity’s house and coast to a stop near Steve Woodward’s abode at the bottom of the street – an eighth-of-a-mile away. While I almost bought the farm one February day when I nearly smashed my sled into a fire hydrant near the Pelles’s house, I eventually plowed my little flyer against the base of an offending boxwood shrub.

However, despite all of our activities involved in everything from war to street hockey, it was our gargantuan games of hide-and-go-seek, which proved to be the single most inclusive activity of them all. We never had less than 30 participants; occasionally, we might have many as 70, if we included the kids from Hobart and Southgate roads. 

Typically, we would convene at the top of Radcliffe adjacent to the telephone pole by the Haley’s house and take up “sides.” For the next two-to-three hours, we would use all of our facilities to avoid getting caught. The game would subsequently end not with one side necessarily winning but the various family bells ringing out for dinner. Our designated rendezvous point turned out to be the stately telephone pole by the Haley’s house at the top of our street’s elongated hill. Over the years, you could witness scores of Radcliffe Road children pressing their little hands against the brown-stained wood and then wailing out into the abyss, “OLLIE OLLIE IN COME FREE!”

When I think back on this most communal of games these days, I now recognize that we played hide-and-go-seek unreservedly, with unfettered glee, and without any hidden agenda. Five decades later, virtually every memory of it is a blur, except for one triumphant contest. It occurred thanks to the near cataclysmic Cuban Missile Crisis. Because we has been “this close” to a nuclear holocaust, the Haley’s hired a local firm to construct a well-fashioned bomb shelter in their backyard.

Thus, it didn’t take long for Dougie Haley and me to come up with an epiphany. One teaming day during the summer of ’63, we ended up hiding in the family’s bomb shelter for more than three hours. Nobody could find us. In the meantime, we were safe from both Nikita Khrushchev and our neighborhood pals. For one brief and shining moment in our childhoods, we were the kings of the neighborhood. Because of Dougie’s and my sagacity, however, the Haley’s bomb shelter was deemed “out of bounds” for eternity.

The last time we all participated in a massive Radcliffe Road hide-and-go-seek game occurred during the early evening the day after I graduated from Wellesley High School. Our neighbors hosted a block-party on the street for all of us who had just graduated. After the cookout ended, my old pal and fellow graduate, Doug Haley, convinced all of us to play one last game of hide-and-seek. Virtually everyone eagerly joined in the fray, which went on well into the dark. 

Two months later, I left for college.

On June 1, 2019, I visited my old neighborhood in Wellesley when I went back to speak at the memorial service for a beloved high school teacher. The day before, Mrs. Betty Fay, the matriarch of Radcliffe Road, had finally passed on at 97. Her seven children, my childhood chums, had all ventured back home, mostly from the West, for her funeral. When I entered their familiar house that day, we literally fell into each other’s arms. I hadn’t seen many of the Fay children for decades, but it didn’t matter. We still knew and loved each other to our very cores. As Nancy Fay exclaimed, “We had seven children in our family, but we really had about 50 siblings.” 

When her younger sister, Betsy, asked me about the last time I had seen her mother, I smiled, “Last year! I was in the neighborhood, and I observed that the kitchen light was on, and so I knocked on the door. When your Mom saw me, she chirped, ‘Oh, Shaun – come on in!’ – as if it was 1965.” 

We all had a good laugh at that one.

I also shared with them the last time I conversed with their father, Jim Fay before he died in 1995. As we sat out in his beloved indoor porch, Mr. Fay remarked, “You know, Shaun, when you kids were out there playing on the street, to me it was the best sound imaginable.”

When I was then introduced to one of Fay spouses, she asked me in total innocence, “Are you a Red Kelly or a White Kelly?” The story had been passed on to her. And here I was a living and breathing White Kelly who had come back to the golden street once again.

After we spent an hour reminiscing about our communal childhoods, one of the Fay children, Betsy, who was now 61 years old, exclaimed, “How lucky we were that we all grew up together!” I smiled and agreed heartily with Bets. In hindsight, our inadvertent gathering was nothing less than a family reunion.

Before I left Radcliffe Road that day, I ventured up-and-down the old street for a spell. As I paraded from the remains of Pinecone Village to the old Woodward house, I realized that this particular spot on earth remained my epicenter. Eventually, I stopped at the telephone pole by the Haley’s house, leaned against it, and then murmured to myself, “Ollie Ollie In Come Free.”  

Needless to say, no child came scurrying from stately bushes, majestic trees, or even old bomb shelters to join me at the old upright. In reality, the silence was mostly complete except for the infallible New England wind, which blew memories in swirls as I pressed my hand against the pole one last time. 

In memory of the few of us from the old neighborhood who have died much too young – Holly Seiler, Steve Woodward, and Bobby Haley – and for a few guardian angel parents who were always there for us – Jim and Betty Fay, Lynn and Bernice Patrick, and Larry and Laurie Kelly. 

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Reach for the Stars

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While I have been blessed in my life to have met a former Beatle; three US Presidents; a British Prime Minister; a Nobel Prize winner; and two Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients; the greatest thrill for me occurred when I greeted Apollo II’s Buzz Aldrin in September 2010 when he spoke to our Middle School students for 45 riveting minutes. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo II moonwalk this week, how terrific that both Mike Collins and Buzz are still with us! As a lifelong space junkie, the original Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts have always been monumental heroes to me.

When Mr. Aldrin spoke to us nine years ago, he reminded us that NASA was a collective effort on more than 600,000 Americans. “Neil Armstrong and I were the ones who got credit,” he said, “but it was the ultimate ‘group effort’.” He then winked at the kids and laughed, “Remember, there’s no I in the word, team!”

In retrospect, when President John F. Kennedy committed our nation to go to the moon in 1961, the top tax rate in the United States was at 91 percent. When Apollo 11 landed eight years later, it was at 77 percent. Fifty years later, we “can’t afford to pay for anything.”

Um, yes, we can. Our current mission, if enough Americans accept the overwhelming evidence of science, is to curb climate change. Therefore, our next moon mission should be right here at home. We need to collectively solve global warming before we leave this fragile planet uninhabitable. We can do it. As JFK said so convincingly 58 years ago, “No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.”

So let us begin.

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Their Just Due: The Moody Blues in Their Time

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During a fifteen-minute break from working at a local market after school each day in 1971, I used to dart to the local record store and peer at the over-sized display window for the latest LP releases. Like countless adolescents who grew up in the late sixties and early seventies, album art back then invariably piqued my interest. After all, it was the initial artistic expression of the music that lay inside of each record jacket. At the time, a long-playing record cover measured 12.3 inches squared. Thus, how an album was marketed mattered a lot to nearly everyone. As former Columbia Records President Don Ienner revealed to me years later, “In 1964, when Capitol (Records) marketed the Beatles’ first LP release in the US with the black-and-white photo montage for their American début, Meet the Beatles, that LP-cover sold thousands of more records. Of course, it was a brilliant marketing ploy.”

Thus, when I sprinted to my local record store during a work break In September 1971, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the latest album that was featured in the front window of the Music Box in Wellesley, Massachusetts. There, prominently displayed so that all could see it was a record cover that was so distinctive, surreal, and hypnotic that I was instantly mesmerized. The Moody Blues, the album read at the top, and then the age-old, mystifying Anglo-Saxon aphorism, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.

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With artwork by contemporary English artist, Phil Travers, the lettering, Bocklin (comparable to Expo today), was based on a typeface design initially introduced by the Otto Weisert foundry of Stuttgart, Germany in 1904. The assumption, of course, was that the archetypal music buyer would be pushed to believe that the music within the enchanted record jacket would also contain 42 minutes of wonder.

I immediately plunged into the music store, purchased the LP, and returned to work, counting off the minutes until I could barge home and give it a listen. As a relentless fan of the Moody Blues since the 1967 release of their groundbreaking album, Days of Future Passed, I knew that this could be another precarious endeavor by a band that specialized in transcendence.

Because of the theatrical, ethereal, and almost childlike virtuousness of their multi-dimensional series of concept albums that framed the Moody Blues from 1968-73, more than a few rock fans during that time dismissed them as cosmic lightweights. To most of my hard-rock friends back then, the Moodies were Pink Floyd-lite; muzak for the soft-rock crowd, unsubstantiated nothingness with pretty melodies, sappy lyrics, and lush but saccharine orchestration. This was primarily because their first two substantial hits as a reformed band, “Tuesday Afternoon,” and “Nights in White Satin,” were quickly labeled as “high priests of trippy, high-art pomp” in an infamous review in Rolling Stone.

In reality, the Moody Blues were venerable pioneers of progressive rock. Still, the original group had one more rhythm and blues British Invasion band that had followed the template of the Stones and the Animals. Even though the band from Birmingham, England had a top ten hit with their 1964 single, “Go Now,” the Moodies went through a series of changes until they reinvented themselves three years later by adding wunderkind Justin Hayward as both lead guitarist and lead vocalist and the multi-talented John Lodge on bass. It was the equivalent of Fleetwood Mac adding Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham a few years later.

Throughout much of 1967, the Moodies composed, rehearsed, collaborated, and eventually recorded their concept-album masterwork, Days of Future Passed, with the 133-member, London Festival Orchestra, deftly conducted by Peter Knight. When it was released that fall, musicologists recognized that the group had invented a new musical genre – art rock – a potent combination of psychedelia, classical, and R&B that gave their sound a celestial undertone. Because the band deemphasized the kick in their rock sound throughout the album, many rock fans dismissed them as quintessential soft rockers. I stood my ground with the naysayers and pleaded with them to “give a listen to the brilliance.”

The pretense of Days of Future Passed was simple and yet onerous – the Moody Blues attempted to capture a day in the life of people living and surviving in the modern world – from dawn to eventide. While “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon”), and “Nights and White Satin” were both top-ten hits, the magic of the album could be found in the interludes in-between.

This was not a head-banging experience; it was both cerebral and whimsical, heady fare for the common man. When it was released, New York Magazine dismissed it as “a ponderous mound of thought-jello.” Ultimately, though, their music has aged well. The ‘band’s reassessment is such that they finally garnered a well-deserved spot as group members in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Rather than followers without originality, they are now viewed as visionaries who had enough talent, ingenuity, moxie, and élan to create their own musical universe. Interestingly, Rolling Stone, which trashed Days of Future Passed in 1967, hailed it five decades later as…”one of the most endearingly popular albums of its time.” In the end, it is one of those concept albums that begs to be played in one listen.

In musical history, the Moodies, of course, were one of the first bands to fully employ the Mellotron in their music, which helped them build multilayered soundscapes. Invented in their hometown of Birmingham in 1963, the Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard. (John Lennon first made it famous in 1967’s “Strawberry Fields Forever.”) This dynamic musical force would lie at the heart of their second major masterwork, 1968’s In Search of the Lost Chord, an album that sought to encapsulate a voyage of discovery in people everywhere. (Talk about a cosmic undertaking!) Because the Moody Blues were no longer working with a full orchestra, the Mellotron, under the creative genius of keyboardist Mike Pinder, took center stage for them over the next six original albums. Justin Hayward’s collaboration with Pinder on “Voices in the Sky,” is typical of the sweeping melodic and lyrical sounds the group came up with in terms of vocals, guitars, and Pinder’s Mellotron prowess.

Another quintessential Moody Blues’ attribute, the use of the narrative voice, through the distinct, Oxfordian-affected tenor of percussionist Graeme Edge, provided the bookends for the album in the form of an introduction and an epilogue. Edge’s poetic salvo, which opens In Search of the Lost Chord proved to be one of his more beloved openers (in this case, to their top ten single from the album, “Ride My See-Saw”) of any in the Moody Blues prodigious catalog.

The same force frames the prologue, “The Word,” featuring Edge, and “Om,” a luminous, collaborative effort, which features the unmistakable Eastern sound of the sitar along with a hypnotic, otherworldly chant framed in Western-based imagery. Justin Hayward’s sitar-playing is a revelation and radiantly supports vocals from all five members of the band. As George Harrison stated later on, “In terms of combining Western and Eastern sounds, only the Moody Blues and the Beatles were stirring both components together in the late sixties.”

On the heels of In Search of the Lost Chord, the Moodies plowed right into On a Threshold of a Dream, which sold more records for the band than any disc until their 1981 comeback album, Long Distance Voyager. Considered their most conspicuous hard-rock album, the record is full of surprises, most notably the soulful tune, “So Deep Within You,” which was later a hit single for the legendary Motown group, the Four Tops. Compared to many of their progressive and psychedelic contemporaries, in retrospect, the Moody Blues sound like a band that was making profoundly experimental music at the time. The LP also contains the Top 20 hit, “Never Comes the Day,” featuring the acoustic guitar of Justin Hayward and the Mike Pinder’s seamless Mellotron work. The vocal lead by Hayward here is considered the finest of his long public career. For many longtime fans, “Never Comes the Day” is their favorite Moody Blues tune ever.

After the success of both In Search of the Lost Chord and On a Threshold of a Dream, the Moodies were ambitious enough to then compose an entire album in order to celebrate the impending Apollo 11 moon landing. While To Our Children’s Children’s Children sold well at the time, it was dismissed by some rock critics for being too far-reaching and offbeat. In addition, it was the fourth major LP release by the band in a bit more than two-years. Thankfully, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility, the Moody Blues’ To Our Children’s Children’s Children is beginning to receive some well-deserved airtime once again. After all, a band that sells 75 million albums worldwide over the last 50 years is nothing to sniff at, right?

Throughout this remarkable LP, the Moodies describe a species capable of both astonishing accomplishment with a deep-seated urgency to destroy anything in its wake. As humans climb higher, the band infers, there are still many who have been buried beneath the stuff of ambition. The group’s connecting ballads, “The Eyes of a Child” and “I’d Never Thought I’d Live to be a Hundred,” speak directly to the bookends of innocence and malice. (And on Side 2, when humankind is about to land on the moon, the band update the ballad and sings, “”I’d Never Thought I’d Live to be a Million” – a nod to the fact that the human race has not only endured and thrived over time.)

The first side of To Our Children’s Children’s Children ends with a transcendent instrumental by Graeme Edge, a cosmic gallop into the outer galaxy, which then leads to Mike Pinder’s “Out and In,” whose inspiring Mellotron work here matches his seamless vocals. One of the aspects of the band’s success, of course, is that most fans have their personal favorites from each album. There are very few universally popular tunes out there by the Moody Blues because each song is enduring in its own way. For me, “Out and In” is one of those gems, a purposely understated ode to wonder.

The most best-selling single of the album, Justin Hayward’s “Gypsy,” begins the second side of To Our Children’s Children’s Children with aplomb. From Ray Thomas’s lilting flute to Pinder’s exquisite Melotron to Edge’s buoyant percussional work, this is an aggregate tour de force, which has remained near the top of any Moody Blues playlist. In the end, though, it’s Justin Hayward’s virtuosity as a lead singer/guitarist who drives the engine here. His paean to exploration is unreservedly sublime and evocative.

Written out of the same pocket of dreams as “Nights in White Satin,” “Watching and Waiting,” the concluding song of To Our Children’s Children’s Children is a nostalgic and yet haunting tune is one of the most revered ballads in that larger-than-expected network known as MoodyHeads. Throughout the ballad, a pensive Justin Hayward ponders the meaning of life given our newfound status as space travelers. Given how spiritual many of their tunes were, you could make a case that “Watching and Waiting” is on top of the pile under the classification of “heartfelt and ascendant.” As usual, Hayward is radiant on every note, both as the song’s lead guitarist and primary vocalist. And when he speculates on landing on an alien planet, well, his extraterrestrial plunge into speculation is inspired: “‘Cause here – there’s a lot of room for doing/The things you’ve always been denied/So look – and gather all you want to/There’s no one here to stop you – trying.” It was the faultless closure of an aspiring release that ultimately fulfilled such exhilarating ambitions.

Over the next three years, the Moody Blues continued their sustained inventiveness by releasing the fetching albums, A Question of Balance; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn. In A Question of Balance, the band focused on the power of the individual against a society that seemed both indifferent and all-powerful. The Moodies purposefully stripped down their sound and reinvented themselves for this disc without the layer-upon-layer approach, which had come to define them in the previous four albums. The release begins with the title track, “Question,” which turned out to be a Top 20 hit for the band in the winter of 1970. An astutely layered anti-war ballad, it is clothed by a Segovia-like acoustic riff by lead guitarist Hayward, followed by a thunderclap of horns and strings, which then pushes the relevance of the tune to its lyrical center: “Why do we never get an answer/When we’re knocking at the door? With a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?”

However, it is the bridge of the song, which remains both transcendent and life-altering.

I’m looking for someone to change my life

I’m looking for a miracle in my life

And if you could see what it’s done to me

To lose the the love I knew

Could safely lead me to

The land that I once knew

To learn as we grow old

The secrets of our souls…”

This is one of those meaningful ballads, which has received considerable airplay over the years. When Justin Hayward asks his questions, there’s percussionist Graeme Edge responding in a primal-drum response that is so dynamic that it propelled the tune, “Question,” into the classic rock category.

In their celebrated 1971 follow-up, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, the group opens up with one of their most memorable song/poems: “Procession,” which includes the sounds of rain, wind, and a Gregorian-like call-response in order to capture the pathos they were seeking to record. “Desolation! Creation! Communication!” This musically sublime accumulation of sound connects primitive to modern humankind like very few works of art have in recent times. It all leads into the album’s most beloved song of the LP, “Story in Your Eyes,” which opens with a prodigious guitar lick by Justin Hayward and a tum-tum roll by drummer Graeme Edge that is worthy of Dave Clark. The uplifting string lines of the Mellotron soar above the three-harmonic voices of Moody Blues vocalists Justin Hayward, Mike Pinder, and John Lodge creating a sonic landscape that frames the rest of the album. Despite the contrast between ancient and new, the one prevailing human emotion has been love.

“I’ve been thinking about our fortune

And I’ve decided that we’re really not to blame

For the love that’s deep inside us now, is still the same

And the sound we make together

Is the music to the story in your eyes

It’s been shining down upon you now, I realize.”

The band’s septenary release since 1967, Seventh Sojourn, proved to be a prophetic, cultural sigh to an epoch framed by political assassinations, war, inequality, and the wasting away of both human and earthy resources. It was clear that both the Moody Blues and the culture that had framed them were exhausted after listening to a record that turned out to be a discordant mixture of regret, hope, and anger. Still, there were moments of genuine lucidity. In their first single from the album, “Isn’t Life Strange?” the Moodies ask an eternal question then give the immutable response – human need. The interplay between John Lodge and Justin Hayward is lovely here, as is the group’s impeccable musicianship, something that has been profoundly underappreciated over the years by many.

Seventh Sojourn closes with a final exhalation, “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.” It was the Moody Blues attempt to tell their fans that they weren’t gurus or messiahs. You won’t find the eternal answers with them. You will only find them within your own heart and experiences. While some critics called the song, the band’s “washing their hands” moment, the fidelity behind it was just too profound to deny or misconstrue.

“I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band” wasn’t just the final song of their seventh album in six years, it turned out to the band’s finale to their pronounced classic-rock period. Like their American contemporaries, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Moody Blues were too exhausted to conjure up any more creativity from their collective wellspring of for five years, until their 1978 comeback album, Octave. That same year, Justin Hayward and company recorded their most exquisite number since “Tuesday Afternoon,” which was featured on the Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds album, “Forever Autumn.” A single that made it to the number 5 spot on the US Billboard Top 40 in October 1978, the ballad is now considered one of the best songs written and recorded about the most bittersweet of seasons.

Three years later, the band would produce an album worthy of their work in the late ’60’s, Long Distance Voyager, which sold more units than any disc they ever produced. Despite the premature retirement of Mike Pinder and the recent death of Ray Thomas, the Moody Blues still perform in concert, a half-century after they reached the ultimate pinnacle of success. In 2018, the group finally was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an injustice that left fans like me perplexed for more than two decades.

Thirty years ago, Justin Hayward paid a visit to a Boston FM station for a scheduled interview before a summer concert on the Boston Common. When I heard that the leader of the Moodies was going to be on the air, I eagerly tuned in, anxious to hear the normally humble lead guitarist and vocalist answer a plethora of questions in a crowded hour. As the interview concluded, Justin Hayward admitted, “Over the past twenty years, our band has ventured around the sun more than a few times, but after a while, we’ve stopped, not wanting to repeat ourselves in any way. Like a beating heart, we’re here. We’re still here.

Maybe that’s been their point all along.

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Jack and Jon

June 6, 2020. Two authentic legends are retiring from the classroom at The Greenwich (CT) Country Day School this coming week – Jack Jepson and Jon Bates. Despite their desires to fade into perpetual mist, both master-teachers are not going to quietly depart to the confines of Stratford, Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts without some des acclamations from me.

Jack Jepson: For those who know and love him, there is absolutely no subtly to Mr. Jepson. He is like a persistent tsunami who washes over everyone he comes in contact with every day. Whether it’s a wellspring of trivia-facts, a bevvy of enthralling anecdotes, or Midwestern-laced, commonsense advice, Jack is a rock in the surf who is there to help ground you in every way imaginable. In reality, “J, J.” has been my go-to person for the past 29 years – not only concerning teaching, coaching, and dealing with students – but in dealing with life’s unexpected twists and turns. His wisdom is unquestioned; ultimately, Mr. Jepson has served as our school’s philosopher king since 1977.

Even though Jack’s deep-seated insights and wealth of knowledge are without rival, it is his expansive heart that makes such a beloved and irreplaceable figure at GCDS. In boxing terms, Mr. Jepson leads with his head but characteristically finishes with his heart. Not surprisingly, I have never witnessed a more respected faculty member among students than Jack Jepson (who reverently call him, “Jeppy”). Ultimately, there are very few people who have ever worked at Country Day who know as much about the place. Like a fixed star, Jack Jepson is a constant reminder of how one teacher can truly make a sustaining difference in the world.

I look forward to future walks with him in his new home in Stratford, Connecticut and for visits to our house on the Cape. Thank you, Jack, for being such a discerning, steadfast, and benevolent older brother and comrade-in-arms to me, and a second father to my two children, especially to my younger son, Max. Tu me manques.

Jon Bates: “Mr. B.” has long been Country Day’s Sequoia, a majestic, robust, steadfast, and graceful tree whose sturdy branches have protected all of us for nearly 40 years. An active listener and a sagacious colleague, Jon’s ample wisdom has been a difference-maker to both to my esteemed colleagues and me. There have been innumerable times that I have approached Jon for advice, and he has generously given both his time and his thoughts to me through the bookends of both humility and astuteness. Ultimately, he is a positive role-model extraordinaire for people from 10 to 99. “If Jon Bates approves this, then I’m on board,” is a constant refrain heard at faculty meetings over the years.

Jon’s enduring passion for his students, his players, his colleagues, and his school have helped fostered the long-held notion that he has made our school a much better place. My oldest son, Sam, once exclaimed to me, “Mr. Bates makes the complex explainable.” If teaching is the highest form of understanding, then Jon Bates has served as an example for all of us to emulate. Like his esteemed colleague, Jack Jepson, he is the ultimate difference-maker.

A thriving new beginning should be a time for newfound engagement, positive growth, fascinating connections, continued contributions, and astonishing possibilities. The good people of Martha’s Vineyard are so fortunate to have you in their midst. Thank you and Godspeed, Mr. Bates!

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One Rainy Night in the Old Yankee Stadium Press Box

It’s May 2002. Teacher friend Bud Pollack and I are at the old Stadium in the Bronx for a Sox-Yankees game that evening. It begins to rain, so Bud picks up his cell and calls one of his former students who was a producer at MSG at the time. He invites us up to visit him, and we end up conversing with former major league stars turned baseball announcers, Jim Kaat and Bobby Murcer, in the spacious MSG broadcast booth as the rain continues to pour down onto the emerald field below.

Just as we depart, Bobby Murcer said, “You know, fellas, Bob Sheppard loves to meet teachers who visit the press box. After all, he’s been one himself for decades.”

Jim Kaat then explains that Bob Sheppard had taught at Columbia since the 1960’s. “Willie Mays might come into the booth, and Bob will be accommodating as always, but he feels most at home with his fellow teachers. I know that he would love to greet you both.”

For those of you who might not know about him, Bob Sheppard was the legendary public address announcer for the New York Yankees from 1951 to 2007. For 56 seasons, Mr. Sheppard ended up announcing more than 4,500 Yankees baseball games 22 pennant-winning seasons and 13 World Series championships. “He is the voice of God,” Mickey Mantle once explained. Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski stated famously, “You’re not in the big leagues until Bob Sheppard announces your name.”

As Bud and I entered his cramped booth at the old Stadium, we knew that Bob Sheppard had announced the revered names of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, and Yogi Berra with such precision that Columbia had asked him to teach courses on elocution. “I found my true calling when I entered the classroom,” he stated matter-of-factly to us. “It changed my life.”

The quintessential gentleman, Mr. Sheppard couldn’t have been more gracious or accommodating, especially to two passionate Red Sox fans. We conversed about our classes, our passions, and why teaching continued to remain at the epicenter of our lives. The legendary PA announcer then asked me who my favorite Sox player was. When I informed him that it was the late Tony Conigliaro, he smiled and said, “A fine, fine choice, Shaun.” He then flipped on a switch in his booth, which was an interior sound check only, and bellowed: “Batting for Boston, Number 25, Tony Conigliaro, right field, Conigliaro.”

I thanked Mr. Sheppard profusely. “That does the old heart good,” I remarked. He threw me an appreciative smile.

Just as Bud Pollack and I were leaving the booth, he asked me what my number was I was a player in my younger days. “Number 14, Mr. Sheppard,” I answered. “Well, Shaun, I am going to do this for you because you are a fellow teacher!” He then switched on a speaker in his booth and clamored in his best Mount Olympus voice: “Now pitching for Boston, number 14, Shaun Kelly, pitcher, Boston.”

I told Mr. Sheppard that he had just given me my all-time favorite baseball highlight. He smiled and said to Bud and me, “Now go back to the classroom and continue to make a difference!”

While Bob Sheppard’s Zeus-like voice continued to echo the names of hundreds of baseball players at Yankee Stadium over the next five seasons, it was the humble words he imparted to us that have stayed with me ever since. Eight years later, three months short of his hundredth birthday, Bob Sheppard died. When I think back on the time we met in his cramped announcer’s booth seventeen years ago this month, I realize now as a Sox fan that I wasn’t in enemy territory then.

No, I was on hallowed ground.  


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