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Freshman Year 1964

Charles Priore

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Actually freshman year in high school began in 1963. The year America lost its innocence. The announcement came over the loudspeaker in math class as I was playing with a Kennedy election button that the President was shot. Congress authorized war against North Vietnam, and there were race riots and protests all over the place.

At 13, most of us were oblivious to much of the change as the Mustang was introduced and the British Music Invasion had landed. Our parents dropped us off at the Bishop Fallon Record Hop. The girls were running around with a copy of a Parade Magazine with these guys dressed in leather and wearing long hair. We thought they were turning into 13 year old biker chicks and when “She Loves You" came over the PA System, we started to understand what was going on. On February 9th, the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. That prompted us to go to Wally's attic to sing and play “air guitar" with pool cues for hours. It was the year rock and roll transformed. The “crooners" of the late 50's and early 60's were finding it harder to crack the charts. Dion, Roy Orbison, Bobby Vee, and Gene Pitney were being replaced by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, and the Animals.

I fell in love for the first time with a crazy but beautiful girl named Karen. She looked like Julie Andrews and threw my cigarettes out the window at a CYO party. I would walk or ride my bike for 3 miles just to pass by her house. Of course it didn't last too long as we drifted apart. It was typical freshman stuff as I fell for my friend Dave's cousin from Pittsburg about two weeks later.

I also remember going to my friend Bill's house and walking into his living room only to see my first color TV. Bonanza was on and I was mesmerized. I went home and told my Dad about it so he went to a department store called Two Guys and bought this plastic thing with green on the bottom, orange in the middle, and blue on the top that fit over the black and white screen. It was great for Bonanza, but all the people on other programs had tri-color stripes. Of course the motorized color wheel danced shades of green and red on the aluminum Christmas tree in the background. Talk about a light show!

I went to an all boys Christian Brothers High School and started playing saxophone so my interests were expanding and it sure was fun meeting new ladies and friends. Football was big with us and we played a lot of sandlot ball at the University field. I was a pretty good quarterback (or so I thought) and went out for the school team before school started. After getting my butt kicked in a scrimmage game in the rain where I was tackled on the sidewalk that was 20 yards out of bounds, scraping my arms up on some glass, I quit. Got a phone call from the Discipline Brother who told me to show up for band the next morning. He told me to go into the band room and tell him what instrument I was comfortable with. I came back with a Trumpet. He told me I was playing sax and I have been playing it ever since (45 years).

I would still see my neighborhood friends all summer and play wiffle ball, hard ball, and listen to music on the porch. We even started a garage band and did Kinks tunes. All the music, baseball, and girl watching landed me a trip to summer school for Algebra. I went to a public school that summer and when my teacher introduced himself as Mr. Novak, the kid next to me called him Mr. “No-Ass". Of course that sent me into a laughing frenzy and I got in trouble as apparently Mr. No-Ass was used to being called that but my laughter upset him.

Little did we know that the IBM 360 was unveiled, and didn't care much about gas being 30 cents a gallon. All I knew was that my mother made the greatest meatballs in the world and there was something to do all the time in 1964. We survived the neighborhood freshman initiation when people were marked up with paint or beat up. I couldn't wait for sophomore year.

The American Italian Baby Boomer

Charles Priore

Italian American Baby Boomers Club


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