One thing leads to another. First my mind drifted to Dondi, the poodle who was hit by a car and fell down the storm drain. Naturally, I had to look at the actual site of that incident in Google Street View. There it is.
Since I was in the neighborhood, I took a virtual walk down Lexington Street to Cherry Lane School. It hasn’t changed that much.
It was here that my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rice, wrote in my permanent record that I had a tendency to begin ambitious projects and fail to complete them. Was she referring to my papier-mâché volcano? Or the elaborate diorama of a TV studio I tried to make out of clay? Maybe she was right.
It was also here at Cherry Lane that Miss Salerno tried to put ChapStick on Joe Sergio. She hated chapped lips and would chase him around with the ChapStick, trying to smear it on his lips. This was bad, but not as bad as when she tried to cut his hair. She was obsessed with Joe Sergio.
And it was at Cherry Lane where Mrs. Kennedy would award JFK fifty-cent pieces to her third grade students who did fine work or distinguished themselves in some way. I was among the handful of kids who never got one.
But what I remember best are the air raid drills. Sometimes we would get under the desks, other times we’d kneel in the corridor with out faces to the wall and our arms shielding our heads.
Of course, there were never any bombs, but it seemed like great fun at the time to pretend they were coming. At that age, everything is about fantasy and play. After the drills we would follow up on the playground, where we would make believe that the teachers were all vaporized, and climb from the rubble of Cherry Lane to rebuild the world.