Being Thirteen

I remember back to 1963. That was a great year. I started off at 12 years old, and stayed that way for 10 2/3 months. I had played baseball all that summer and it was great. I hit 5 Home runs, three of them grand slams. I made the all stars. I walked all over town, fished in the Chattooga, gone to the movies. The summer of 1963 was idyllic, and I loved it.

Then, suddenly I became a teenager.

Oh God, how awkward I was. What terrible luck I had too.

I go a bad case of Athletes foot late that summer, and it just ate my feet up something awful. I had to start school that fall wearing sandals with white socks. Nobody can imagine how embarrassing an ordeal that was. My old protagonist J. Suits kidded me mercilessly about it. It took a month or so to finally get healed up….just as the weather started to cool off.

I had fairly greasy hair, so the pimples came along shortly after the feet healed up. I washed my hair regularly, but it didn’t matter. I had one or two fairly bad eruptions a week. Another embarrassing issue, and so I kind of walked around with my head down and avoided direct eye contact, especially with girls…

I remember as Christmas approached, the glee club started rehearsing a Special program. One of the songs was “White Christmas” one of my favorites. I lined up in the back of the boys section and was belting it out, Bing Crosby style. My voice had already changed, and my tenor was clear and on key. I didn’t think I’d be noticed, I just loved the music, the song and the time of year. Mr. Carruth stoped in the middle of the song one day and said: “You…Bowers C’mere”.

I went up front. He proceeded to inform me that I was going to sing solo for the song, with the rest of the singers backing me up. I was floored, and scared crapless.

We rehearsed the song over and over the next few weeks, and when the day came for the program, I was ready. I started a little tentatively but forgot anyone else was in the assembly that morning, and did my best Bing. “Good job” said Mr. Carruth.

The year changed after that. I walked with my head up. I continued to sing every opportunity I got, and I still thank John Carruth to this day for believing in me, and helping to make my life better.

We had several good teachers, who were also decent people at our school that year, and in the ensuing four years. I was lucky to be there with a good group of teachers and some great classmates. It was a wonderful time.

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