A Quick Look at High School:
My Ridgewood visits lessened when ninth grade English class made demands on me beyond writing stories. When I found a few minutes at home, I wrote some very short stories about Lenny and Dave … and Vree. She became my imaginary confidant on paper, as well as my girlfriend. We had a sexual relationship in a very short story I scribbled one weekend in February, not long after my fifteenth birthday. Certainly, she wouldn’t—couldn’t—become pregnant unless I wrote her that way. Or so I thought.
Meanwhile, high school became center stage for me, as well as Lenny, Dave, Amy and Vree. That winter the boys signed up for their school’s baseball team, just as I signed up for my school’s team. Only Dave ever developed into a star player.
Unlike my school, Ridgewood High was a fancy designed building: a conglomeration of angles made of brick, cement and safety glass built in 1969. Located at Jefferson Avenue east of the center of town, the school housed grades 7 through 12, a big auditorium for plays and concerts and pep rallies, and a long and tall gymnasium for physical education classes and basketball and volleyball games.
The school counselor and medical offices were in the heart of the building, giving students convenient access to all services. The administrative offices were in the east wing, and the main entrance and major corridor were centrally located to accommodate students, parents, and the community.
Slim gray lockers lined pastel colored hallway walls, and during the school year smells of food wafted from the huge cafeteria until 1 PM, and cookies and cakes scented the west hall all day where the Home Economic classes were located. Rally banners hung near the sports trophy case in the main hall and depending on the time of year, boasted demands for victories in football, basketball, wrestling, track, cross country, and baseball. Soccer, softball, swimming, bowling, golf and tennis were new sports added to the school’s athletics program and didn’t rank important enough for banners.
Behind the school was a spacious football field complete with fancy stadium-like lights, roomy bleachers, and soon-to-be-installed professional grade turf. Next door was the baseball field. It too had fancy lights and roomy bleachers as well as brand-new concrete dugouts, pitchers’ bullpens, and a well-tended mound.
Ridgewood High’s colors were Navy Blue and Gold, and it proudly displayed the Fighting Eagle as its mascot and “Committed to Excellence: Wisdom Giveth Life” for its motto.
Dave and Lenny made their baseball team’s junior varsity squad and I made mine. I wrote a few baseball stories before June came and our schools emptied for another summer. We all graduated to tenth grade and I spent the first few weeks recuperating from nine months of academia overload. I wouldn’t write another story until July 4, 1972.