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The Mast-Head: History Repeats, Kind Of

Wed, 09/28/2022 - 18:08

My son, Ellis’s, first game as a member of the East Hampton Middle School football team comes up this week, and it has gotten me thinking about when I was his age and switched schools, too. This is not with nostalgia exactly, but a sense of amazement at how our lives can repeat from generation to generation.

Like Ellis, I joined middle school in seventh grade after spending the previous years outside of the public education system. I had been at the Hampton Day School since I was small and my mother and a group of friends started it; Ellis had been at the Ross School, where his mother worked and still does. My own father had been educated at East Hampton, as had his mother before him, and so on.

I needed remedial help to catch up to my new schoolmates on things like multiplication and spelling; Ellis, a good student, had never played so much as a down of football, never watched a game, and had the murkiest concept of the rules.

These many years later there is not much that I remember about the first weeks there other than Kevin Bunce punching me in the stomach in the gym as if to say, “Welcome to middle school!” In eighth grade, Jerry Larsen and I got into a scuffle outside the new wing. All I recall about that is noting that the future East Hampton Village mayor had a very hard head.

Fighting was not a regular thing in middle school, though one incident stands out in my memory. We were in the locker room after gym class one day when my friend Mike got into it with a mutual classmate who grew up to become a town cop, now retired. All I remember about that is a shrieking Mike running out of the showers with his adversary clinging to his naked back.

Ellis was greeted without punches or unwanted piggyback rides. During the first week, he had to navigate some cafeteria seating drama and a teacher who kicked him out of her classroom for reasons he did not understand. Now he is figuring out football, playing wide receiver on the second squad. They play Greenport in the opener, after which we have to jump in the car to go visit his sisters for college parents’ weekend, but that is a whole other story.

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