The Kid was born on the same date in June as Helen Keller, Bob Keeshan, Ross Perot, Tobey Maguire, Julie Ordon and Matthew Lewis, and the clerk at a nearby Ryder Trucks Rental. I have no idea what those sillies astrologers make of this mix of characters. These people were all born in different years, of course. Maybe that gives the stargazers an out.
He was born in 1941, but refuse to take any blame for World War II.
There were a few famous names that passed on beyond the stars on that date as well. James Smithson, famed for creating the Smithsonian Institute; Joseph Smith, famed for creating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Jack Lemmon, famed for creating Felix Unger on film. The Kid non-famed for creating much of anything, unless it was ditching derbies in grade school, but then, he also has not passed on yet.
None of the above named people really have anything to do with The kid, except for the rental clerk from whom he rented a 16-foot truck to move his daughters’ furniture, and Jack Lemmon, who is one of his all-time favorite actors. So that is all we will say about any of those folks. This is supposed to be about The Kid, a kind of long self-congratulatory, patting-my-own-back, blowing-his-own-horn, brag. What fame he has is rather local and limited and his life is no more extraordinary than the guy next door, and the guy next door might actually be somewhat more interesting. The guy next door is from Peru and his wife is from Ecuador and he maintains cranes for a living, those big girded things, not the swamp birds.
His friends say they are writing their life stories, with truth, and will name names, and that he will be up to his eyeballs in their memoirs. Thus The Old Goat feels compelled to write some things as a form of self-defence or a preemptive strike if you prefer. He is this his “Impressions of life.” This seems the best he can do. He no longer recalls all the minutia of his life with full clarity. He is an honest person, but can only tell life through his own eyes. He'll try to present The Kid unwashed, but we all have a built-in filter of self-preservation, which may prove difficult to circumvent. Besides, he can only speak about what he thought, felt, intended or did, and don’t know if that is the truth at all. He doen’t know what others involved knew or felt. What factors played a roll of which he never knew. Perhaps he was wrong and thought he was right. Thus even the years lived through are only impressions of what may really have happened.
The Kid was born in June 1941 in Pennsylvania, a Friday’s child, “loving and giving”. (Ah, if that were really so.) He weighted in at 8 pounds, 13 ounces and given the name Larry Eugene. (I have always accepted 8 as my lucky number; the less said about 13, the better.)
Yes, The Kid's given name is Larry, not Lawrence, the family were too poor to afford all those extra letters. "Larry" was the hero in some favored novel read by his mother. "Larry" was dashing, noble and brave, I suppose, but then only fiction. His middle name has no ties to anything. His parents say it was the only one that went well with his first and last.
But The Kid hated the name Larry in his earlier years (never mind what he thought of Eugene). “Nobody is named Larry,” he would protest. Those who were so christened hid behind nicknames: Larry BUSTER Crabbe, Larry YOGI Berra and even today, we have Larry CHIPPER Jones.
Although now The Old Goat rants there are too many Larrys, always portrayed as bumblers, buffoons and boneheads: Larry, Moe and Curly of the Three Stooges, Larry, Darryl and Darryl of the Newhart Show, Larry the Cable Guy. Well, at least the latter “git’s ‘er done!” Larry, Darryl and Darryl added insult to injury since my son is named Darryl. If he only had a nickel for every time someone asked him where his other brother Darryl was.
But let us return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
The Kid has blue eyes. They never worked well. His mother and father have blue eyes. His grandparents had blue eyes. His wife has blue eyes. All his children have blue eyes. One would have to search deep and wide to find someone in The Kid's direct line with eyes of another color. It is a recessive gene, a mutation. That’s okay; blue eyes are pretty.
His hair at birth was red. His mother had dark red hair, auburn. Perhaps her mother did as well, he never really took notice and am sure by the time he was of an age to do so his grandmother was not sporting her original coloring anymore. There were a number of redheads and blonds on her side of the family tree though. His own hair grew out curly and thick. Somewhere around beginning public school his hair turned a very dark brown, almost black. Somewhere much much later it turned gray, what of it didn't go away.
There were address changes those first few months of his being. He cannot swear to the circumstances of them all, only to the bits and pieces passed his way and some conjectures of his own devices. He once believed his first home was a second floor apartment up a fire escape above the old family store on the corner of Meredith Row (now called Meredith Court) in Modena. His mother recently corrected him. It was an apartment a block from there in a building next to the railroad, most likely on the wrong side of the tracks (pictured above). His parents escaped from this location a month after his birth, leaving behind the rattling trains, the rusting scrap yards and the colony of bedbugs that feasted nightly upon The Kid.
His next stopover was at his maternal grandparents' home in Whitford, a whitewashed house behind a pond, but, oddly enough, still next to a railroad. I know little about this home or under what circumstances they lived there. They didn't own it. It was on the estate of one of the founding families of the area. The owner used to visit at Christmas and always gave his mother a pair of gloves. I know his mother grew up in the big house. There is a smaller house near the road his mother calls the tenants home and a working blacksmith had his shop behind it. It still exists much as it was except it has had a face lift since those times and is bright and sturdy looking these days.
But by December of The Kid's first year they all had moved from there. I do not know what occasioned this migration from country to town. There are several possibilities, all of which might be the cause. I know his grandfather worked at the town Iron Works during The Kid's childhood. Perhaps he began that job in late 1941 and they moved to be nearer. They also made the change in December. Pearl Harbor had occurred on December 7 putting us into World War II and, eventually, his father into the South Pacific. Did the emergence of war and his father's service help decide this move? His grandparents never owned the home in Whitford. They never owned any home, but always rented. Perhaps the landlord had decided on another use for the place and they had to go? It matters little; he was too young to consciously experience these changes or to care. I only know by Christmas 1941 they were living in what The Kid considers his hometown.
Your hometown stays with you, hangs around your neck like some kitschy piece of bling. "Why do I wear this ugly piece?", one asks. "The weight bruises my chest? I’m too old. It’s too old. I should toss it away, drop it in a dumpster and forget." But in the night-lights of dimming memory it glistens, it sparkles, it seems pretty. All the doss is hidden in the dark of forgetfulness and only a small diamond of reminiscence glimmers. One can never let it go.
That town will always clutter his mind. He tell tales about it (he often has).