When I remember my parents, I often end up thinking about their friends.
My father, the son of Jewish immigrants, grew up in Boston. After serving in the army in World War II and four years of college on the GI Bill, he ended up in New York in the 1950s. He taught at different public schools and worked at a small advertising firm, while going to night school at NYU.
Over fifty years ago, when I was six years old, I began spending all of my free time in the two adjacent schoolyards on the New York block where I lived. The larger one had basketball courts and a handball wall, and it took up the entire eastern half of an East Village block on 3rd Street. The smaller space was essentially a courtyard bounded by the north, south, and west wings of Public School 63.
Junior by Jacob Margolies Junior was a large, pudgy, olive-skinned boy. He was also a bully. In my prepubescent world, he was the twelve year old who walked up to the ten year old at the bus stop and punched him in the face. Sometimes he’d also take your bus pass. He only got mine once.