By Isaac Lomeli
No, this is not an Ode to, Beastie Boys; but it is a story about Paul Revere. It is not about a quart of bear, but story we can all hold dear. That’s about as far as I’m going to go with the rhyming; let’s move forward with reminiscing.
For me it started way back in 1978. Paul Revere was just a name of a school—I had no knowledge of his gallant ride through the streets of Charlestown screaming, the British are coming—and the place where I began kindergarten in Ms. Jockman’s class. Where I would meet my BFF, Nene; the prettiest girl ever, Kelly Smith; my first kick in the privates via, Erica Webb; my first fan in Lorena; my childhood bully named, Mike Gomez; and of course the official Pre-Madonna—which simply means she came before the artist Madonna, and not that she was stuck up—Mia Chang.
In this short story it would be impossible to mention everyone and everything—that would take a novel; which I’m currently working on—but I will take this moment to bring back some shining memories for us all to look back and laugh, cry, or do what you do.
For all of us, it is where we learned about foursquare, tetherball, and standing on the line. They don’t stand on the line anymore, but they should. Now I’m not sure if it was, Machiavelli who said this, but it sounds like him, “Punish the individual in front of the masses, and the masses will follow.” That was sure the intentions of standing on the line—and I suppose of the whole yellow card, red card, black card system that got you there—and for me it surely worked. I had much preferred to stand on the line that got me next in the D square, than the line of shame that got me nowhere. Kid’s today are out of control; we need to put them on the line.
First grade wasn’t too bad. I had Ms. Liska, and it’s where we learned to sing, My Country Tis of Thee…God Bless America…and I believe some other tunes I can’t remember now [but if you happen to remember, please list them]. It’s also when we all learned how horrible those school lunches were. Even so, I do crave those peanut butter and honey sandwiches from time to time. I remember coming home on a half-day with one of those lunches; my mom took one bite of those wannabe tuna salad sandwiches and called the school to complain; and that was the last time for a long time I ate the school lunch.
Then came 2nd grade. Did anyone else get the feeling Ms. Parkay might have been a little prejudice? Perhaps I was just a troublesome 2nd grader, but man, she seemed to have no patience with me. She put me in the lowest reading group for some reason—which took me until the 6th grade to get out of, in which Mrs. Lindau finally realized I was quite out of place and jumped me two reading levels up—and never said my first name correctly (she said it like she was angry at it). Come on, she had all white her, was about almost 60 years old, it was 1981…she had to have been a little prejudice. Or was just a pill in the 2nd grade?
Third grade was probably the time we all figured out who are friends were and weren’t. We learned to be young adults. We had the system down by now. In my experience with substitute teaching elementary school kids, 3rd graders are the most well behaved. They know the game, they know the rules; and they play the game and follow the rules. They are nothing like 4th, 5th, and 6th graders who know about crossing the line and breaking the rules.
Ms. Swank was probably the nicest teacher I ever had. So nice that Erika and Kelly pulled a fast one on her. Erika was not supposed to be in our class, but she had to be with Kelly, so she simply lied and Ms. Swank believed her. Come on, let me and Nene try that. We’d both be in Principle Bosio’s office. Anyway, I think 3rd grade is where we began chasing girls. And, everyone was after Kelly; but Erika being the tomboy she was, she was basically Kelly’s bodyguard. I was a recipient of one of Erika’s brutal tackles. All I remember was almost catching Kelly and BAMB! I was on my back looking up at Erika. Oh, but Quinten…that pretty boy…they all just loved them some Quinten. Third grade was home to some hard lessons about life and women.
But, on a bright note, Lorena took a boy in. She saw me all alone before school one day and invited me over to chill with her and her older friends. I felt pretty special hangingout with the 5th graders. I must have been something special, because she even gave me a Halloween card for no reason. I have never in my life, even until this day, have received a Halloween card—take that Quinten.
Not much to say about 4th grade. We were all afraid of Ms. Harris. Well, except Nene. One day Nene was leaning back on his chair—a big no-no in Ms. Harris’s classroom—and she came up behind him and grabbed him by his hair. Well, in case none of you know, Nene’s mom was an old white woman herself. She was not having it. I can only remember the look on her face when she immediately called the school when we got home that day and told her what had happened. Needless to say, no teacher at Paul Revere ever wanted him in there class again. Ms. Harris didn’t even look in his direction the rest of that year.
All I can say is, thank God I had Ms. Rivera. This is where I met the two most laughingest girls I have ever met, Jodi and Shannon. Everything was funny to them and we never knew what they were laughing about.
Fifth grade was probably my worst year. I started off Mr. Bower’s student; which was great, Kelly and Erika where there. But, it was also the year I had to start eating those horrible school lunches again because my parents split up. I also moved away for a few months, and when I came back I was put in Ms. Young Teacher’s class [If any of you can remember, let me know]. She could not handle us. We made her cry and leave the room. I didn’t think we were really being that bad; she just didn’t have any patients or backbone. It was because of her inability to control the class that lead to my altercation with my first bully, Mike Gomez.
Hey, every story has to have a bad guy—sorry Mike, it’s my story, so I get to play the good guy; no hard feelings—and he should be able to take it, since I had to take it for the next 5 years. Besides, that’s what he gets (at least he made the story and in plenty other stories including my first novel, so maybe it pays to be a bully; you get the attention you’ve always wanted). Well, that’s enough about the 5th grade.
To finish us off, we have the 6th grade. Mrs. Lindau. Wow. For whatever reason this woman loved me. She believed in me. She encouraged me to write. She believed I was better than I was. And, she hated Nene. He lasted a week in her class. She straight up told him, “Leave Isaac alone.” She later told me, “You shouldn’t be hanging out with that kid.” Well, I took part of her advice. I kept up the writing, but I never stopped hangout with Nene.
So, I have to tell on myself here. I messed up. I did something horrible. I ruined what should have been a lifelong friendship. I threw away 7 years of fond memories just because I wanted to be funny. It was the last day of school and Kelly hands me her little paper yearbook they gave us. I handed her mine and we wrote away.
Now, I had the opportunity to impress her with my way of words and express to her how wonderful the year have been getting to know her and enjoying her beauty. She was the prettiest girl in school for all 7 years. And, I should have told her that. Instead I told her this, “Kelly, your face is great, but your body is bait.”
Yeah, I know. Unforgivable. I carried around the shame for almost 30 years. God bless Kelly’s heart, because in 2011 at our high school reunion I was finally able to say, I’m sorry, and she forgave me. She still remembered what I had said.
Kelly and I spent Jr. high and high school estranged. Her locker was right next to mine in 9th grade and she never spoke a word to me and I was too ashamed to even look her way. We had 12 grade English together and we talked around each other like we were strangers. I don’t know who was hurt more by it; but I do know, she didn’t deserve to hurt, but I did.
So what’s the moral of all this? Folks of Paul Revere, we all have a connection to each other. We all have memories to share. It’s a shame any of us didn’t stay in touch. As life may have shown you already, but most certainly shortly will, the people who share our past will grow fewer and fewer. For now we can say to each other, “Remember when…that one time?” Soon the day will come when we only have ourselves to say that too. Paul Revere will only be remembered by these words and in pictures.
Thank you all for sharing my life with me at Paul Revere. Thank you for the stories I have to write today. You are all unforgettable. Let us come together soon to create and relive memories, and remember memories we’ve lost. Hope to see you all soon.