Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

How People Remember You . . .

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rabbit. . . can be fun, I’ve found, after bumping into about a dozen 70- and 80-year-olds over the past decade who recall our high-school days at Scollard Hall, the all-boys Catholic boarding school in North Bay, Ontario: — 1947 to 1952. We had a Grade 13 in Ontario in those days to give kids an opportunity to earn a few college credits before having to leave town to attend one of the handsful of universities in the bigger Canadian cities.  I was a day hop, not a boarder, and learning by osmosis more than class subjects because there were students from far away as Venezuela, Italy, England, the U.S., and most Canadian provinces.

But back to how I was remembered.

At a group gathering during a reunion, they said i must have been the model for The Fonz in TVs “Happy Days” except “He couldn’t dance like you.”

On another occasion, the old-timer leaned on his cane and said, “Yeah, you’re the guy with the three pens.” I’d forgotten about that. I used to use three pens so I could write three lines worth of detentions – penalties or punishment given for some infraction or other – such as “I will not be late for first class after lunch” 500 times. Those three pens cut down the writing time a lot. Then he added, “And you sure could jive.”

A retired salesman who had to give up a promising professional hockey career because of a shoulder that kept  separating just flat out blared, “You were the best jiver in the ‘Bay.” Another old colleague, recalling my dance-floor days, rolled his eyes and said, “Man, you made us live!”

This patter and pattern have tumbled through my mind as I recall those dazzling days when I could jitterbug/jive/swing/whatever historians call it today. It was a shuffle and shucking done to a boogie-woogie beat and, while I can’t claim to have been the best in the ‘Bay, there was no one better.

It all  began in Jack McGinty’s living room. His home is now a rooming house abutting a McIntyre Street motel. His sister, Leona, taught me when I was 14 or 15 how to cut a rug on their living-room rug. Jack and I were close friends, along with Frank Klein (who became a well-known cop and civic leader in Sault Ste. Marie), Tom Lyons (who acquired his own firm in Peterborough and became a competitor at international curling bonspiels), Dennis Murphy (who rose to monsignor-ity in the Church) and Bernie Bucholtz (who went on to play several years of professional football in western and eastern Canada). As it turned out, we were pallbearers at Jack’s funeral after he was killed in a freak traffic accident. I was 17.

I always got a picture of him in my mind when I went into swing that gave me access to every gal in town. When the beat got down, all I had to do was point to one and she skipped out and we had a boogie ball. This is said not as a boast, although it is with pride, because we both were having fun.

That’s all I’ve ever wanted out of life – to be able to have fun. And I’ve had to deal with hundreds – probably thousands – of people who have done their utmost to deter me. So I toss the big-bands CDs into the tuner and turn up the volume  just right then bob and bounce to the beat while I picture Jack and the living room where his sister taught me to boogie a long time ago in an era far away.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm

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