April 30, 2011
Division Avenue's class of 1960 was at the right school at the right time
BY DEWAIN LANFEAR
Something about mowing the lawn causes my mind to drift to earlier times, maybe the repetitive walking behind the mower making a pattern in the grass - I don't know.
I was thinking further about our place in time at the threshold of the 1960s. I remember living in the Bronx and wanting to play basketball in the playground. Since I left the Bronx when I was just 12, I always had to wait for my turn after "the big guys" were through. "The big guys" might only have been 14 or 15, but they were "the big guys" and we weren't, so we waited.
I first became a catcher because that was the only position "the big guys" would let me play in their game - permanent catcher. They needed someone to throw the ball back to the pitcher and I would do anything to play. I just remembered this. Maybe it was the first time that I realized it too.
When I came to Levittown in 1954 from the City it was unimaginable that real baseball fields with infield cut outs, backstops and home plates, and home run fences were sitting unused, waiting for us to play if we chose. In my life in the Bronx, I couldn't dream of a basketball court being available and unoccupied, there for the using. In my piece in yesterday's blog, I concentrated on our role as the four-year seniors in high school. We were always "the big guys" and we didn't have to wait for our turns.
I remember going to a party of mostly Levittown Memorial High School students and how different they were. Their dress was more "preppy" and at least one boy was smoking a pipe. These might have been the influences of an older crowd on these people. I didn't know any group of Division people who dressed or acted like this. I know we weren't all the same, but this didn't seem to represent one of our varieties.
I'm going back to the theme that while we certainly did not all follow the same path, the majority of us followed a path of our own making. In fact I like this theme so much I'm going to beat this horse until it gets up and carries a banner around the field. Like Popeye, we were who we were, not a copy of someone else. We were lucky in so many ways, but especially lucky in our timing, or better, the timing of our parents. We were at the right school at the right time, in the right decade of the right century. It was a unique coming together of many factors and we won the prize.