Dear old Chapel Hill School. At one time it was the only school in Old Beavertown.
Reflections of Chapel Hill School: The Cross Road
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In September of 1964; I turned 11, started the sixth grade and joined Boy Scout Troop 170. Mr. Yurgolese was my sixth grade teacher. He was the first male teacher that I ever had. Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Yurgolese was a Sergeant in the United States Marines. He was kind of a tough guy.
Now, I’m all for the United States Armed Services. Not a veteran goes by my Gate House, without my thanking him or her for their service. But as far as Mr. Yurgolese’s teaching style; let’s just say that the way a Marine Sergeant needs to instruct new recruits is different from how a teacher needs to teach 11 year old children. I’m not saying that Mr. Yurgolese wasn’t a good teacher, but he just needed to trade in his strict discipline regime for a dose of compassion. That’s all I’m saying.
Patrick and I were both in Mr. Yurgolese’s class. You might say that if Patrick was the inspiration for Fonzie, then I was the inspiration for Richie Cunningham. Patrick wore the cool paisley shirts, complete with the high-roll collars. I wore the plain, solid colored cotton shirts with the button down collars. Patrick was a natural at basketball. He was a great basketball player. I was a wonderfully mediocre basketball player.
It all boils down to this. My fellow drummers will know what I’m talking about. Patrick held his drum stick, in his left hand in the same manner that a drummer holds the drum stick in his right hand. I held the drum stick, in my left hand, in the traditional manner; so that the palm of my left hand was facing upward.
Patrick loved to play his drum set in fast, six-eighth style, focusing on a driving beat with his bass drum. I tended to play in four-four time, with the focus of the bass drum on the first and third beats of each measure.
Patrick was outgoing, outspoken and very cool with the girls. I was quite shy and a bit awkward when talking to the girls. I think you get the picture.
Here’s the thing, don’t ask me how I remember this so well; but I do. We used to have recess time after lunch. A lot of us would play Donkey Ball, against the brick wall of old Chapel Hill School. Some of us would flip our baseball cards against the brick wall, the one whose card was closest to the brick wall would win all the baseball cards of that round. Some of us would find the shade of one of the tall, towering maple trees and catch up what was happening with Batman, Superman or Spider-Man.
One Friday afternoon, during recess time, I had this idea to invite Patrick to the Friday night scout meeting. I had been reading the Mad magazine that I had just bought at Moe’s Sweet Shop, walking to school that morning. I remember putting my Mad magazine back into the secret compartment in the inside back cover of my blue three-ring notebook. Just about every kid had a secret compartment to stash comic books and Mad mags, in his three-ring composition paper notebook.
Well, I began walking over to Patrick who was watching the grand final round of the afternoon’s Donkey Ball tournament. Half way on my walk over to talk to Patrick, I got nervous.
I thought to myself that Patrick was one of the cool kids. He wouldn’t want to join the scouts. What was I thinking? Long story short, I chickened out. It’s something that I have regretted quite a bit over the years.
In many ways, it was a cross road for me. Patrick might have really liked scouts. I am disappointed in myself for having chickened out to ask Patrick to come to the Friday night scout meeting.
Today, Patrick and I still keep in touch from time to time. Patrick is a big success. He owns his own building demolition company. He has an entire team of men working for him. He donates thousands upon thousands of dollars of building supplies to Habitat for Humanity. He has more awards for outstanding service to the community, than he has wall space to hang them.
It all comes down to this, please do follow your gut instincts. When you get that flash of inspiration to offer the hand of friendship and good will to someone, please do grab it with all the gusto in your heart. Because, sadly, if you don’t; you’ll truly regret that you didn’t. As the old phone company ad used to sing to us, all those years ago, “reach out and touch someone!” Oh, not literally, but reach out in the spirit of good will and friendship.