Last year I held a roller hockey reunion at my house in Brooklyn. I looked up and invited many guys that I haven’t seen in over thirty years. Facebook, phonebook, arrest records, you know whatever it takes to track down your old friends you haven’t seen in a while.
And the result was a big barbeque in my driveway one day last June. Old faces, no hair, gray hair, and so on. We talked about the “glory” days of playing hockey down at Avenue F, and our time skating right on the block where we all grew up. There were photo’s, old hockey jerseys and whatever else a fifty one year old man could hold on to before his wife throws it out.
Now no one has yet to throw mine out, and I guess you can call it my own "connection to the 70's". You see, on this very special piece of black illustration board lie dozens of old black and white photos taken of us playing hockey from the early 1970's. You see when I attended the High School of Art and Design back then I took a photography class at the school. And my teacher was this guy named Mister Kleyban.
Now for whatever reason Mister Kleyban just never liked me, and I’ll be dammed if I ever knew why. Because I was my mom’s own six foot three “little angel” and I never did anything wrong.
Well, but then again…
So one day at class Mister Kleyban asks us to take nature photographs, I guess walking into Prospect Park with my camera in hand would have been the proper thing to do. But no, instead I take it up to Fort Hamilton one day while we were playing hockey and shoot dozens of pictures of us all skating instead. Then the following day I developed them in the darkroom in class and then promptly mounted them on the black board and handed the project in.
I clearly remember the day Mister Kleyban handed us our “graded” projects. I turned mine over and there was a big red “F” on the back.
Not feeling a bit guilty I put it inside my portfolio and brought it home to show the guys and NOT my mom. Yes, with all these glorious hockey pictures I was East Fourth’s hero for the day among all the boys.
That was probably sometime in 1972, my first year at Art and Design.
You know I was almost treated like some kind of celebrity on my block, the stories I brought home about Art and Design. The kids, all the beautiful girls, the guy dressed up as a condom for Halloween. It was just too much for most of my Parochial school friends to ever comprehend you know.
What a wonderful school that was, I hope my kids can only be that lucky someday.
So guess what re-surfaces last spring at my hockey reunion, yes the old hockey pictures mounted on that black board with the big “F” still on the back.
And you know what, I couldn’t be happier. Because I still had those pictures along with that big red “F”.