My high school years of 1966-1969, as with most teens, were tumultuous years of experimenting and discovering who I was and who I wanted to become. At best, I was just an average student with a bad attitude. For some reason, I found myself gravitating toward the wrong kids, and as a result, I was developing a bad reputation. I didn’t play by the rules, and I didn’t listen to the teachers. I rejected all authority figures and was generally a smart ass know it all jerk! Getting into trouble and getting into fights was nothing unusual for me. I went home from school more than once with a black eye or a bruised face, but so did the other kid in the fights. Mum would yell about it, but Dad didn’t lecture me; he didn’t threaten me; he didn’t have to; he would sternly warn me: “You better stay out of trouble boy!” My two younger brothers, two younger sisters, and I knew that we had to behave ourselves and stay out of trouble, or at least not get caught, OR ELSE! I was always in trouble at school, but while at home, I ditched the tough guy role because Dad was a strict, no-nonsense disciplinarian, a rough construction worker, and what you might call a “redneck.” Mum was a stay at home housewife, as I think most moms were back then. She took care of the cooking and cleaning, did the laundry and the grocery shopping while raising us five kids. Mum prepared supper every night, and we were all expected to be there on time. When Dad came home from work, our family all sat together for the family meal.
While in high school, I worked a few afternoons and evenings each week at a small restaurant and deli establishment named the “Village Dairy.” For a whopping one dollar and fifty cents an hour, I’d take off my black leather jacket and bad-boy façade and put on a white apron. I uncharacteristically played by the workplace rules so that I could earn some spending cash. Standing behind the deli counter, I filled the customers’ orders; slicing, weighing, and wrapping lunch meats and cheeses. I was good at my job. After graduating from high school with the “class of 69,” the owner of the deli put me to work on the full-time shift. I was even given a little more responsibility and was in charge of training the newly hired students, teaching them how to use the meat slicer and the cash register, as well as scheduling their work hours.
1969 was also the year that I met Diane, the most beautiful girl in the world. She was a bright smiling high school senior that the owner of the deli had recently hired. I was awestruck when I met that girl, but I kept my cool, being polite, and behaving myself while trying to impress her. She was a good worker, a fast learner, and very smart. We worked well together and frequently worked the same hours. She dressed conservatively appropriate for the job, but there was no hiding her sexy attractiveness, not even behind a full-length white deli apron.
Regularly working together didn’t happen by chance or coincidence. Since I was in charge of the work schedule, I would always schedule Diane to work the same hours as I did. And that cute, friendly, pretty smiling girl didn’t seem to mind working with me. We were having fun and getting along well at work, so one day. I gained enough courage to ask her out. At first, teasing me, she shook her head and looked at me like I was crazy, but then she smiled that beautiful smile and said, “Yes.” I couldn’t believe it! And I couldn’t wait to be with her outside of the workplace.
However, Diane’s best girlfriends didn’t like the idea, and they tried talking her out of it, telling her, “don’t go out with him, he has a ‘reputation,’ he is trouble, and you are going to get into trouble too.” Fortunately, she didn’t listen to them, so we went out on that first date and then a second and then a third. Meeting Diane changed my life and was the best thing that ever happened to me! We had some great times together and had a lot of fun. We were only 17 years old!
Class of “69”