Okay, I’m going to tell the St. Patrick’s Day story which remains one of my favorite memories, not only of St. Patrick’s Day, but of middle school and my chilidhood in general.
By St. Patrick’s Day 1989, my future was ahead of me. I had only two months and a couple of weeks left attending Arabi Park Middle School. I had been accepted to Brother Martin High School to attend the eighth grade at the Gentilly campus starting that August.
I was definitely the first from Arabi Park to attend Brother Martin–boys didn’t attend Arabi Park until August 1987–and I was probably one of the very few to migrate from the St. Bernard Parish public school system to Brother Martin. Holy Cross was the prime destination for St. Bernard boys if they didn’t end up at Chalmette or St. Bernard High Schools, or Andrew Jackson Magnet, where Stacie and many of my classmates from Arabi Park ended up.
St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday. It was the last day before school closed for a week prior to Easter, which was March 26. Teachers were in no mood to teach; in fact, almost all of them had fun activities or just rolled out the TV and let us watch.
A school dance was scheduled that night. From November through May, there was a monthly dance one Friday night for the seventh and eighth grade students. I always went alone, and I always was too damn scared to ask someone to dance with me. And then I started to cry. The only ones who were nice enough to dance with me were Rosemarie Renz and Stacie, although once in a while I would dance with someone else.
For the March dance, the Arabi Park Student Council was raffling off a limosuine ride to the dance for the winner and five others.
I decided to go all out for it. I bought as many chances as I could, and by time lunch rolled around, I began to field questions about people wanting to ride if I won.
First, I had to win. Second, who would I take? Would I just take five guys, or would I ask the ladies?
Part of me really wanted to take five girls. Stacie, however, said no way. She had a date with Glen Weaver, her on-again, off-again boyfriend at Arabi Park. Allison Richardson, Stacie’s best friend, was interested. She wanted to go in the limo if I won. But who else would I take?
After the abbreviated class schedule ended, there was a mini-fair in the gym. Someone came up to me and told me I had won the raffle.
By then, the choice was easy. I picked five boys to ride: Jason Malasovich, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller, Jack Bastoe and Joe Monaghan. I wanted Shawn O’Neil to come, but he didn’t go to the dances.
We decided to meet at Jack’s house, since he lived farthest from Arabi Park. That was Jason’s idea. Good work. Jason lived closest to the school, so it would have done us no good.
We rode in the limo for about half an hour before arriving at school. I got some cheers as I emerged. My mother was there to take a picture. She chaperoned the dance that time because she was afraid trouble would ensue. Stacie’s mother, Kathy, was also a chaperone that evening. I danced with her, as I did with Rosemarie, Allison and Stacie.
If I had to do it over again, I would have taken the girls. Stacie may not have gone, but Allison would. I probably would have included Toni LaRocca. Rosemarie probably.
I still regret I didn’t stay close to the gang at Arabi Park after leaving for Brother Martin. It really ate at me for a long time, all the way until the day I pulled into 1224 North Brooks Street in Russell to begin my new life.
I miss those guys. I wish I had the money to bring them all up to Kansas City for a reunion, or I had the time to go to the Big Easy.