The Rest Was Just Awful Poetry

Reading what my thirteen-year old friends wrote in my book so many years ago, are you all laughing and thinking how much more sophisticated you were at that age? Earlier this week I discussed the “Roses are Red” autographs and today I will talk about the others.

Apparently my friend, Jo, who I remember as being the best artist in our class with the shortest walk to School Street School (She lived across the street so she could sleep late), had thoughts too scandalous to write about. What a polite young lady she was. I wonder if she would like to weigh in on her past words today. Jo??


I was extremely gawky and skinny at that age. Grandma was constantly telling me to stand up straight and to take smaller steps. I towered over my siblings, so I suppose that my friend Kathy was just being honest when she wrote her “funny” poem to me.


All the girls thought our math teacher, Mr. Hennessey, was so cute. He was single, as was a female math teacher, so my friends Karen, Mary, and I used to stalk them as they went over to the high school together for lunch, wrongly believing a romance was in the making. How shocked we were when Miss N. became engaged to a teacher at the high school.

Mr. Hennessey

You all know Karen—my very first friend who is still my friend to this day. This was a friendship which began in kindergarten. Her poem was cute and showed she was happy for the opportunity to be immortalized in my book, but she never indicated how long we had known each other at that moment.

Karen Basch

How about this poem from a girl named Liza? We were not close friends, but nevertheless, her seventh-grade humor graced the pages of my book. She should have gone into show-biz!

Liza Small

Sweet Maryanne D! She was the cousin of my fourth-grade crush, Joe, but that never helped to advance any chances of a romance with him.

Maryanne Di

Nancy “Von Friedman” was not her real name. She always had a sense of humor as you can see from her post. Nancy was the friend who attended the USC Journalism School and has gone on to write two fascinating books on the topic of the paranormal. I enjoyed both books. She writes under the penname “Louisa Oakley Green.” Check her out if that subject interests you.

Nancy Friedman

Adria was a very pretty, quiet girl who I knew from my days at School Street School. The simplicity of her autograph reflects her sweet personality.


The other Mary Ann was the best friend of Liza. As I recall, they were both cheerleaders during those years. I tried out (Why? I never even mastered the basic cartwheel.) There was a tear in the corner of the page she wrote on, which was allegedly caused by her teeth. (I cropped out the tear.)

Mary Ann Sabatino

Susan was another friend from elementary school. I remember spending many happy days playing at her house with Karen. I think she had some kind of tree house. Your thoughts, Karen?

Susan Gray

My mathematic-teacher-stalking friend Mary wrote twice in the book. It is ironic that both of her posts contain numbers. Aunt Ar is still friends with Mary’s sister Linda. I will see if she followed a career with any mathematics connections.

Mary Giorgianni-2


Mary Giorgianni








Carol was the BFF of Debi. “Sock-it-to-me” is an expression connected to the actress Judy Carne on the show “Laugh In.” Ms. Carne was routinely dropped through a trap door or hit with a bucket of water after uttering those words. Now I wonder and ask, “Carol, why were you the sock-it-to-me kid?”

Frances was the daughter of a nurse, who served as our Girl Scout leader at one time. You will see a similarity between Fran’s poem and that of Aunt Ar—both references the color of the page on which they wrote.

Fran Hopkins

There was only one legitimate celebrity who signed my book. As the celebrity lover of the family, I assign Jamie the chance to check him out. He was the entertainment for one of Grandpa’s company picnics I believe. He was a saxophonist and band leader who played with the famous Glenn Miller Band, who entertained during the late 30’s/early 40’s. Tex Beneke’s most famous song that you would be familiar with was “Midnight Serenade,” which was the song which played as Tom Hanks danced with the older woman, Elizabeth Perkins in the movie “Big.”

Tex Beneke

Dance to “Midnight Serenade” from “Big”

So that’s my autograph book. Thoughts anyone? I wonder when kids stopped doing this.

Gym Class- Oh Goody!

During elementary school, I enjoyed gym class most of the time. Anytime athletic skill was not a requirement, I had fun. There was lots of fun in fifth grade when we learned to dance the German polka and several folk dances. The injury risk was low and no athletic competence was necessary, so Phys Ed was good. On days when throwing a ball or running fast was required, gym class stunk!

Once I was a seventh grader, we had to wear gym suits and get undressed in front of the other girls in class. This was the turning point for me. As a shy person, this was difficult, and as a fashion statement, well, this was simply fashion murder. See for yourselves.

Ugly high school gym suit
Ugly high school gym suit

In high school, I used my contact lenses to get excused from gym class. I would “lose” them, so we would all have to stop and look, thereby gloriously disrupting class for everyone. I was a hero for others like me. Once I “found” my contact (which was nothing more than popping it out and presenting it to my teacher), I had to go to the nurse to reinsert it, which sadly consumed the remaining class time.

During the gymnastics rotation, I had to resort to more drastic measures. I did not have the skill of Aunt El or Jamie when it came to flips, cartwheels and the uneven parallel bars, so I needed to be excused for the entire marking period until we moved to the dance rotation.

Before I explain my strategy, you must understand that I really, really hated gymnastics. I feared it would result in permanent bodily damage, or at least everlasting humiliation. It was not a smart plan, I know, but I had no choice. I know you will be rollling your eyes and thinking I was a wacko, but in that moment, it made sense.

Aunt Ar was like me. She said, “the only athletic ability I had was to wear that uniform and white socks. Otherwise I wouldn’t have passed gym.” It was clearly a genetic problem.

We had this square exercise thingy with wheels at home which I enlisted in my master plan. It looked like this:

Exercise Thingy

I put it in the middle of our bedroom, turned off the lights, and then ran across the room. My hope was that I would trip over it and break something thereby getting me out of gym class for the marking period. Sadly my plan failed, and thankfully, for Aunt Ar and Aunt El, they escaped unscathed.

So I somehow survived junior high and high school gym class. During college, I chose badminton and tennis as my Phys Ed electives. When we moved to South Carolina, I was briefly on a traveling tennis team, and now I play bad golf. That’s it. Now you know. Don’t laugh!