My Corner

... Gone are the days

from Jim Reppucci

Growing up in Melrose was a wonderful time with wonderful memories.
Where have all the years gone since we skated on Ell Pond with hundreds
of others and then played hockey on the outdoor rink next to the tennis
courts late into the night? What happened to those long summer days when
we left our house in the morning, not to return home until dark, just
hanging out on the corner with friends, playing Stickball or Follow the
Leader down at the brook behind the First National Store with the Old Brook
Gang? Gone are those days when we would play baseball and drink Cokes
every day down at the "A" field right into the lazy days of August, hitting
home runs onto the Fellsway. Where have the police officers like Jim Umile
gone, who kept us out of trouble, and if you got into trouble, would put
you in his cruiser and take you home to your mother to await the dreaded
consequences of your deeds?

Gone are those days when you could go to Canteen at the "Y" on Friday night,
dance with your favorite girl or just hang out and play pool and then go over
to Brighams across the street for a Hot Fudge Sundae with Marshmallow. What
happened to those fun, simple activities like throwing water balloons off my
friend's roof trying to splatter cars coming down Main Street? What happened to
those innocent times when you could take your girl friend to The Melrose
Theatre on Main Street and see two movies for fifty cents, and if you
were lucky, get a kiss and a hug?

Those were the days when, in the Fall, the smell of burning leaves saturated
the air and the whole family sat at the kitchen table for a Saturday night meal
of Franks and Beans, then crowded around a twelve inch Muntz T.V. with three
knobs and watched The Lone Ranger.

Where have the teachers at the Coolidge School gone like Mr. Tinel, our
beloved shop teacher and Mr. Cody, our talented art teacher, who made many
of the landings during the war in the Pacific with the Marines, people who
instilled character and principle into our every day lessons?

Gone are the memorable days at Melrose High. What happened to those days
in the High School cafeteria after Ell Pond flooded the first floor and it
was said that fish were seen swimming around? Gone are the days when leather
helmets were issued to the freshman football team and the Raider Band of one
hundred strong played "Roll Out The Barrel". What happened to Miss Jarmin,
my English teacher, with the most beautiful blue eyes? I always sat in the
front row in her class and was crushed to find out that she was going out
with the Math teacher.

Then graduation day 1960 came with three hundred graduates in red and white
gowns on stage in the old auditorium. Some went to college, some went to work
and some went to a little known place called Viet Nam and never returned.
I still think of them. Sure we had disagreements in those days, but we settled
them with talk, then life went on with no hurt limbs or hard feelings. Life
seemed slower and people treated others with respect.

Sure things were tough then, not knowing which of your friends might be rushed
to the hospital with polio, or who might move away, or whose parents were not
working. But we all helped each other. Melrose was truly a village of thirty
thousand people where all of the neighbors were your parents. Melrose is still
a fine place to grow up in, but I would trade all of the computers, IPhones and
all of the rest for those wonderful old days gone by. Those special days.

August 5, 2016

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