While pondering my days growing up and going to school in Camp Hill, I realize that I walked to school and walked home when classes were done(no buses). I never participated in any organized school or community sponsored activity. However, as soon as I came home, I went out the door and rode my bike to a local venue to meet with the guys. Normally the troop consisted of Steve Bange, Charles Kolonauski, Dennis Myers (Elmo), Mike Petrillo (Pitt), our siblings and anyone else we could round up. We would play the sports de jour in what seemed to be any time of weather and have a good old time. With no parents in sight, we were able to make rules, get along, and have fun with minimal fighting. On those warm spring and summer days, we would ride our bikes to the creek and go fishing. We’d just wade in the water wearing our beat up sneakers and shorts. Mom’s only rule, get home at 6 PM or I’d have to fix my own dinner. You know what? I turned out OK.
This is in contrast to the communities I have lived in since and maybe the changing times. It seems everyone’s child is booked up in multiple organized after school activities with mom and dad (mostly mom) having to drive them everywhere. The only place my mom and dad drove me was to church and that was because I really did not want to go there. But think of the freedom I had. I could walk or ride my bike practically anywhere I wanted to go. My parents let me do pretty much what I wanted and I stayed out of trouble for the most part. You know what? I think many of us had the same freedom and we turned our all right.
With all this freedom, I still couldn’t wait for my 16th birthday. I just had to get that drivers permit. Mom was very accommodating. My brother dropped mom and me off at the DMV in Harrisburg, I got my permit, and then Mom & I walked home crossing Susquehanna over the Harvey Taylor Bridge and finally reached our house after a three mile walk. Is that love or what! After getting my drivers license on the second try, I was off running around in my cool 50 Plymouth four door sedan. Some other guys had some pretty cool cars too. Corey Gallaher - 50 Dodge, Paul Harvey - 50 Plymouth, Rick Shover - 40 Buick. We all loved these old machines. Dale Radnor had some pretty fine cars. His famous blue fleck charger and T-Bird were the envy of the guys. Dale, do a burn out!
As auto insurance companies know, teenagers and cars are a pretty volatile combination. Tim Gallagher discovered that you can put eight teenagers in a VW Carmen Ghia and still drive it. Elmo discovered the Green Ghost was just as good as any four wheel drive vehicle. Ah, but what follows makes me cringe to this day but at the time was a blast. One snowy winter night when the guys were hanging around Elmo’s pad someone had a brilliant idea. What if we attach this garden hose around the bumper of Franz’s station wagon and have Franz drive around while were all holding on to the hose. Wouldn’t that be great fun? It was great fun. We probably had 10 guys hanging onto the hose wearing whatever shoes we had on (Elmo probably bear foot) being pulled by Franz through the streets of Camp Hill. If the front guy would slip, he would knock off everyone behind him. Stop and start again. Negotiating turns was nasty. The car would turn, the riders would not heading straight into whatever was in front of them. We riders had no directional control and were at the mercy of Franz. We didn’t care and continued this amusement, running into curbs, barely missing parked cars, falling over one another with only Fuzz knowing how fast we were going. Mercifully, all our lives were spared that evening. You know what? We turned out OK.
I do have a couple moments with teachers burned into memory. One day in trigonometry class, I sat at a desk that had a bent leg. The thing teeter tottered and I must have been making noise, complaining or something. Well, Mr. Orris, who has a slight speech impediment, looked directly at me and said, “David, why does your desk wo –wo- wo –wo –wo, rock?” I could see in my periphery my classmates holding in laughter, their bodies in little convulsions. Having direct eye contact with Mr. Orris, I had to keep my composure. I gave the correct answer, “Because 3 points make a plane.” Mr. Orris did notice the class had to laugh. So He made some little joke allowing the class break forth into laughter. Thank you Mr. Orris for letting us laugh.
Perhaps my favorite teacher was Mr. Kennedy. I had him for physics and chemistry. He was actually a mysterious kind of spooky guy. I think when he retired, he must have gone into television and movies under the name of Jack Palance. Anyway, one day he pulled a pop quiz. Everyone failed. Next class, he gave the same quiz. I think most of us did poorly again. Out of his mouth came, “Catch you once, shame on me, catch you twice on you.” I remember that as a life lesson today. In Chemistry, he got great satisfaction from exothermic reactions or just simply blowing things up. I can still see him with his devilish smile, ringing his hands, telling us all to put on our safety goggles and “take cover!”
Who is this? Mr. Kennedy or Jack Palance?
Camp Hill – What a great place to grow up!