Dear Michael and Caroline,
Every Sunday afternoon, with something like clockwork regularity, we boys all gathered at Paul Solomon’s house. Me, Don, Andy, Carl, Steve, sometimes Mike and Larry. We had to be 12, 13, 14 years old, all of us living on the same block or two, in the same kinds of split-level houses built in the 1950s, going to the same school.
We watched either pro football or pro basketball, on the only color TV in the neighborhood, the football field suddenly lush green, the basketball court suddenly a golden hue. It might be the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, both teams then dominant, or the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Boston Celtics, also powerhouses.
After the games, we would all put on our overcoats and caps and go outside to play touch football in the street in front of Paul’s house. Our field went from telephone pole to telephone pole, probably about 50 yards, with the sidelines marked by the curbs on either side. Sometimes a car or two would be parked out on the street (most stayed in driveways) and we had to play around those (though sometimes we accidentally collided into one going out for a pass).
We played two-on-two or three-on-three, depending on how many guys showed up, and we went at it all afternoon, oblivious of time and responsibility and the world at large, our minds intent on the next pass, the next catch, scoring the next touchdown.
Paul, the biggest and strongest then, played the best (he would later be the only one of us to join the high school football team). He had the calm air of the superior athlete, and usually played quarterback.
Don, my best friend, a lefty, could run fast, and so could Andy.
Me, I could throw and catch pretty well, always equipped with better arms than legs.
P.S. – See Part 2 tomorrow.