Just After High School

Many years before I ever hear of the Beat Generation, or even Jack Kerouac in particular, I am on the road.  In 1953 I am 19 years old. With Lee Liming we leave Winter Park for Oregon to work in the Coos Bay Lumber camp.

In 1958 I am living not far from Kerouac, and teaching a few blocks from his house, in Orlando, though I don’t know it, and still do not hear of him or his book, though soon enough I am on the road again.

There is an interesting interim here, but this is for another day, as it is already half written somewhere or another, and I don’t mean in the book of fate.

Being on the road was not much fun.  It has been much romanticized since K and his bunch made themselves the antiheroes of a whole generation. 

After graduation I lost track of most of our classmates.  I suppose that was normal before the days of FaceBook and all the social media.  Occasionally rumors got through.

Richard Dixon, who played fullback and untypically sang an aria from I Pagliacci for high school graduation, married his sweetheart and became an executive for Ford Motor in California. Or so I heard.

Others in our class also reached similar heights of popular fame.  Louise studied with Balanchine. 

The drummer in our marching band became timpanist for the Metropolitan Opera in NY. Yours truly had some classes with Ernst von Dohnanyi, not that he learned anything much.

 Harvey might not have been the brightest guy in our class, but he was maybe the most popular. He had blond hair always hanging a little over his face, lips loose, mouth slightly ajar.  He was the spoiled only son, with fifty pairs of trousers in his walk-in closet, and a red convertible Ford.  His girlfriend was Barbara, a petite dancer who eventually ended up in the row of high kickers on Broadway in the famous Rockettes.

But Harvey was a special case.  After graduation, he stuck around our home town for a while, working in his father’s garage and repair shop.  He took part in the local dramatics club.  Looking back at that time on the web, you can find mention of his name in the fifties and early sixties.

Then when his girl Barbara took that job in New York, he got it in his head to try to do her one better.  He took off in his red convertible to Hollywood.  That must have been a rotten experience.  Some time after his return to Florida, he shot himself, or so Mom told me – the first of several friends who committed suicide over the years.

This is an excerpt from Patrick’s massive yet incomplete autobiography titled As Chance Would Have It, or The Adventitious Life. The .ODT file is dated 24 May 2017 and contains almost 260 pages.