I went to Catholic school. It was small in size, smaller in thinking but I was a wise guy, so for my sins, my parents sentenced me there. My public school brother took shop, made cool things,worked on cars; I marched through Gaul with Caesar and said the rosary. As a small school it gathered large characters from all over the county, some by choice, some by last choice, me…only choice. The teachers, a mix of nuns and laymen formed the base of education…mostly theirs. I learned some things from their school books, which I mostly forgot, but everything from its people whom I still remember.
One, a dynamic physical ed coach was influential on a lot of us, boys that is ( don’t get the wrong idea here!) . It was his philosophy on life and achieving that talked to me. I repeat it every time I fail and it gives me reason to continue. He gave it with your last name first, a typical Jersey thing at the time :
“…LaBatts, ya godda pay the price…”
True words he gave us on one hand. In the other hand however he carried a golf club that he used like a walking cane and caned the ones with a swat that didn’t walk the walk. He was a real ” driver”. I liked him deep down. He wasn’t parochial, he was a stand up guy straight talking guy. He was also ambitious.
When the northern region of the county built a new regional high school, he got the job as the head coach and when I moved onto a new larger newspaper, I got the job to shoot a feature spread on him. I had left one Perry White type editor behind to find another, but a better dressed one more interested in pleasing advertisers than reporting news. His constant concern was that I was charging him more than I charged his friend which amounted to nothing really, but he had to put on the show. It came with his territory.
” Get me some good stuff this time”…were always his encouraging words and insightful direction. ” What’s the assignment ” I asked. It helps to know that at times. They were featuring the new county school and part of it was their new star coach…the golfer and when I heard that, in my mind I shouted…” FOUR!!”
He had a winning football team and still a par swing no doubt..A few years had gone by since my high school but not enough not to recognize him from a distance as I approached him on the field. He looked smaller for some reason, and very surprised to see me. I was glad to see him as well. He was still the same guy, a great colorful character and after spending a couple of hours photographing him in action, we walked back to his office for the feature shot.
A few more snaps clicked by, sitting on his desk, standing in the doorway etc when he asked ” Is that it? got it all? ”
” I think so..” I said turning and stopping next to his famous golf club leaning against the wall….” Hey ” I said with an innocent tone ” how bout you hold this club for one more shot??? ” ( a real pulitzer prize in the making.) He stood up walking towards me… caught in the act ” No ! ” Smiling I slinked away quickly and so did the shot …but I still liked him.
His shoot ran two pages. I never got that Pulitzer…but I’m still “paying the price”.
This one’s for you Mr.Scrog
Ha! Funny, I attended, supposedly for my own good, a Catholic grammar school, 1-8, in CT. No sports or coach at my school, just nuns telling me how satan had me in his clutches. Never did believe them, however. But I did get a rather sketchy view of history…