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Parting Glances: Of a Rolex remembered

Charles Alexander
By | 2018-01-16T07:56:16+00:00 September 1st, 2005|Uncategorized|

Shortly before retiring from the digitally enhanced combat called teaching I came across a volume of back issues of news about students, teachers, and education, circa mid-50s.
Flipping through the collection I was surprised to find a poem I had written while at Harry Burns Hutchins Intermediate School (to and from which I took a 10-cent bus ride for three happy years. I still judge Hutchins one of the best learning experiences of my life.)
My poem was originally included in a student-illustrated hand-stapled, mimeographed booklet, “The Coach and Four.” (I began writing poetry during my first summer at Baptist Camp. The “gift” came along with an equally inspiring crush on my counselor.)
Though I wrote “The Clock” when I was 13, I’ll be the first to admit — modestly — that there’s about it a touch of precocious, otherworldly, Emily Dickinsonian, Americana genius. [Get you, Mary!] Said youthful opus contains insights not normally accessible to persons, shall we say, less “sensitive.” (Or, “jocund”?)
Having provided such introductory palaver, here’s the poem in its pristine simplicity. (I’ll be delighted to read same in person for any festive occasion warranting the inclusion of a spiritually uplifting, LGBT-inspired, rhymed composition. Gratis.) And so . . .
“Our dusty old clock sits on the shelf./ Ticking softly there by itself./ Slowly counting the hours away,/ As night turns to another day. / Winter. Summer. The whole year through:/ Tick tock, I hear it. Do you?/ We grow old and pass away./ But the clock goes on from day to day.”
Oh, well. I was only several months post-pubescent when I yielded to that inspired but premature calling of the muse. [Shared in passing: when I went to elementary school part of our learning experience was memorization. So; If asked — again gratis — I can recite “Casey at the Bat” — an offer I’ll add that was once curiously declined by the Womyn’s Coffee House.]
Come to think of it as a kid I was Mr. Starlit Stairway — with an enthusiasm I find refreshing looking back on it; but also curious, given my penchant for being shy in public places (so claims Sister Serena Scatterpin, when begging me to join her on her habit-free, informative, Garden of Eden nudist/novena outings).
At Hutchins I also did a ventriloquism act, with a dummy named Hermann, purchased at Hall’s Magic Shop. I haven’t a clue what my script was — I think it had something to do with the terrors of jaywalking — but apparently I got enthusiastic applause for my schizoid efforts.
That same year I put on a magic show at the Cass Avenue Methodist Church. As the proud owner of a multipurpose Gilbert’s Magic Set (linking rings, deck of prepared cards, trick magic wands, vanishing handkerchiefs, fake mustache) I felt myself Harry Houdini incarnate. (Handcuffs came much later.)
My assistant was Carolyn Clark (whose father George Murray claimed to have worked with Harry Blackstone, one of magicdom’s greats.) Our performance left a lot to be desired I’m sure. But Carolyn and I had a grand time, and the applause and free dinner made stars of us if only for a half-hour’s indulgence.
Looking back on “me” I smile at the refreshing, unsullied innocence of the likable kid I think I was. Life had a wow! pow! quality about it. Get out on stage. Take charge! Pull rabbits out of hats! Link rings. Change silken hankies: purple, blue, green, red, yellow, orange . . . Take bows. Tweak mustaches. Hocus pocus.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander