The High School Years

                                                    All the way with the D.A.

    The family moved to Ridgewood, NJ in the early fifties. Ridgewood was a very conservative, republican town. In school,girls wore sweater vests and penny loafers, and tight little " June Allison " hairdos. Guys wore khakis with a belt in the back, button down collared shirts etc....very preppy. Except for a few " Greasers " --  that's what Paul and hisfriends were called. I call it Paul's pink and black phase. He was meticulous with his grooming and his fabclothes.I remember his thick, shiny black hair -- no grease --- but special wax that had a sweet smell. I would sit and watchhim fix it in the morning, then go to his room...emerging resplendent in a pink and black shirt and black pegged legpants with stitiching down the side of the legs. When he went to school he'd strut his stuff --  you know...real " in your face " Believe me, everyone knew who he was. I know too. He was " the Man ". "Long Live the D.A."

                                                Notorious " P " and the Gang

    Paul had 3 close friends. Two of them went from elementary school straight through high school with him. Arnie Banta and Obby ( Robert ) Sproul. Arnie was a sweet natured, good looking guy who smiled all the time. Obby was....well if Paul was " fric "then Obby was " frac ". They were Arnie's entertainment and mine too. Obby and Paul were both very bright. Not too many gottheir quirky sense of humor....cause they weren't smart enough to get it. I used to follow the boys around just to watch themdo their thing. I'd sit at the top of the cellar stairs spying for hours. They were so funny and they just cracked eachother up...and me too.

                                                        Ridgewood High School


    The high school staff did not find them so amusing. Just a few examples: Paul and Obby ran a fictitious candidate for V.P.of the student council....they even made posters..." Voona for Veep ". What upset the guidance department was that Voona won.
    The school was not pleased, but they could never prove they did it.

    It was April, and Paul thought it would be fun to mplay a joke on one of the ngirls in school. You know, that girl who looksperfect every day, hangs with the it crowd etc....He was into magic and brought some disapearing ink to school. He accidentallyspilled it all over the girls sweater. My mother received a call from an angry principal. While he was talking to mom, describing the incident, the ink was disapearing. Which only increased his anger. My mother got calls from school almost on a daily basis. RHS probably had out numberon speed dial.

    There's the infamous story of vice Principal Paffinberger chasing Paul and Obby around the school, on the roof...screamingLAGOS - SPROUL!!!!....I think they had hidden beer in the brook.


                                                            THE DANCE

Somewhere during these high school years Phil Pastras became a regular with the guys. Another smart non-conformist, with thatsame quirky sense of humor. I would sit on the cellar stairs watching these " three nuts " do this weird " dance "...a kind ofswooping slow motion thing, accompanied by a strange sounding sort of music that they sang in a language not of this world.As usual, they slayed themselves....and me too.


                                                    ABOUT PAUL'S ROOM

Paul's room was right across the hall from mine. I was not alloowed any where near it, so of course I went in exploringevery chance I could. It was painted dark brown and there were pictures all over the walls and ceiling. The only two people elevated to the " big brown walls " were Marilyn Monroe ( with her boobs out to make them look like 3-D ) and Rocky Marciano ( with his glovescut out to look extended ). Boxing was Paul's favotite sport and yet another passion of his.


                                                            DON'T TELL MOM

       By the time Paul was seventeen, things were very rocky at home. One night, after a particularly rough incident, Paul brought me into his room and said " don't tell mom, but I'm leaving tomorrow "My eyes filled up with tears and he hugged me, promising to call when he could. I was torn, I didn't want him to leave, but I also never wanted to see him hurt again. In the morning, he gave me a long hug and said goodbye. When I got homefrom school I could see that mom was visibly upset. She met me at the top of the stairs on the 3rd floor. It was 5:00 pm...she said Paul hadn't been to school andshe hadn't heard from him. I looked at her and said " he's gone and he's not cming back ". " How did I know that, she asked?" replied " he told me last night " and turned around and left the room. Mom knew why and I knew she knew. She was silentor a change. A few weeks went by. Paul may have called 2 or 3 times. He was in the city, taking lessons with Gene Krupa and living
....I don't know how.


                                                    THE LADIES BRING HIM HOME

One night my mom got a call from her 2 sisters, who lived in a nearby town with my grandma. Mom told me to get my coat on and get in the car.We made the 20 minute drive to Grandma's house without music or talking. When we walked into the house Paul was standing there to greet us.Mom cried, I cried, and we all hugged. My aunt Mary had gone into the city, found Paul, and brought him home with her.He lived there in a converted family room/basement until he joined the Marines. mom and I mad about 3 trips continued to go into the city for lessons and these 3 sweet, wonderful women got used to the pounding of drums-- which resonatedthrough the family room ceiling into the living room, where they woulod be watching Perry como.

501 views and 1 response

  • Nov 13 2009, 1:27 PM
    Art Resnick responded:
    Having read this I feel even closer to Paul. dI never knew anything about his growing up years, but the "greaser" thang and the couple guys hanging out that nobody else got mirrors my teen experiences.