In June of 1970, I was near completion of my junior year at good old Boonton High School. I met with my guidance counselor, Mr. Kreps, and he told me that I only needed to take about three courses, for my senior year, to have enough credits to graduate. So, even with lunch period, band and gym and three academic courses that would allow me three full study halls. That was my plan! But when I announced my plan to my mom and dad, Dad told me that he had another plan. His plan was for me to take five academic courses, gym, band, lunch and have one full study hall. Needless to say, Dad’s plan went into action.
So far, I had taken a math class every year, and Dad felt strongly that I should take yet another math class during my senior year. Mr. Kreps felt that Vector Analysis would be a good math class for me to take. At the time, it felt like a conspiracy. That same year, at Boonton High, I took Chemistry. So, what started out as a dream vacation for my senior year, turned out to be a lot of time studying.
Now, over 40 years later, I’m glad that my dad had me take full advantage of the opportunity to make the most of my studies in high school. It’s funny the things you remember. I remember, that during my senior at Boonton High, I would do my math homework while listening to good old Jean Shepherd on WOR-AM radio. I had a very cool Philco radio-alarm clock in my bedroom. I ended up with a B average in Vector Analysis. I think a big part of that B grade, I owe thanks to Mr. Shepherd. Somehow, listening to Jean Shepherd reminisce about his childhood made the dreaded task of studying Vector Analysis, a bit less painful.
I always meant to send Jean Shepherd a thank you card for that. Seriously, I really did. I never got around to it. It’s something that I still regret. Oh, sure, Jean Shepherd got hundreds and hundreds of fan letters every week. But, I seriously doubt if he ever got even one single thank you card for helping a kid get through the agony of studying Vector Analysis.
Sometimes, when I was studying my math homework and listening to Jean talk about the good old days of hanging around Flick, Schwartz and the gang, my dad would come into my bedroom and see how I was doing. Dad also thought that Jean Shepherd was very cool.
“That guy is something,” Dad would say to me as he sat on the foot of my bed, next to me at my desk. Then he’d say something like, “I’ve heard that most of Jean Shepherd’s stories are one hundred percent true.” I’d give my right eyetooth to be able to relive just five minutes of listening to Jean Shepherd with my dad.
I can see Dad and Jean Shepherd in Heaven. I can see my dad thanking Jean for telling the world, through the magic of radio, about Jean’s childhood memories. And, I can see Dad thanking Jean for bringing a ray of sunshine into his son’s life.
Till Tomorrow, Richard