Niagara Gazette

Columns

August 21, 2013

BRADBERRY: Remembering the summer of '63

Niagara Gazette — It was nearly the end of summer, 1963.

News of the planned March on Washington had re-awakened my curiosity about my condition, my freedom to do, to have, to expect more than I had.

I was 16 years old; like the season, my youth was drawing to a close just as everything I thought I knew was changing; Michael Debakey implanted an artificial heart in a human, the Supreme Court ruled that the public schools could no longer require the recitation of Lords Prayer, Pope John XXIII died, and within months, the President of the United States would be assassinated.

Reflecting on what I recall as the final days of my innocent youth, those blissful years before everything suddenly changed, I like to remember to truly good times with my best friend, Tommy.

I remember it as if it was yesterday, but it was more than 50 years ago, Tommy and I had decided two years earlier to run away; we wanted to seek adventure, to save the world; after almost two summers of planning, mapping and packing, it was time.

Our Boy Scout knapsacks filled to capacity, our stomachs full of Spam and peanut butter, we were ready to head off into the wild gray yonder.

It was dangerous stuff for sure, we determined; coming close to putting our eyes out, a fear that we had all been brought up to believe would be the certain result of defying our parents most dire warnings.

But we were protected.

Around our necks we wore cloth scapulars with pictures of saints, blessed by the Monsignor Ormsby himself, and sold directly to us for less than a dollar each by the Sister Marys. We were immune to danger, we could not die, we had rosaries around our necks and St. Christopher medals in our pockets.

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