Yes, I have written about this event before on this day. Please indulge an old man who is struggling for content after 1,700+ posts and 920,000+ words.
On this day in 1972, which was also a Thursday, I broke my right foot playing touch football in the alley behind my house. I jumped to catch a pass and landed on some broken pavement. My foot turned so that the bottom turned up at an awkward angle and a bone was broken.
Even though my playmates were yelling at me to “walk it off,” I knew something was wrong because that foot would not bear any weight at all. I hopped up the back stairs into the house.
Although I knew I would have to go to the hospital, I refused to leave before 8 PM. Why? I had to watch the episode of Dragnet that aired at 7:30 PM on the Washington, DC CBS affiliate. For quite some time, I watched two episodes of Dragnet every Monday through Friday. The first aired at 5:30 PM on the Baltimore NBC affiliate. They were never the same episode.
I watched the Dragnet episode with my right foot soaking in a tub of water and ice. When someone changed the channel to the Baltimore NBC affiliate and the Flip Wilson Show started, I said it was OK to leave. That’s also how I remember I broke my foot on a Thursday. My then brother-in-law drove me and my mother to the hospital, the same hospital where I was born.
My foot was set in a cast that would eventually allow me to walk with it, but I had to stay off that foot for two weeks, which meant using crutches. For some reason, school was closed the next day, but on the following Monday, my mother, my younger sister and Dr. Zal accompanied me to school. My mother didn’t drive–she never did–and my father left too early in the morning to take me to school.
Speaking of my parents, it was not long (less than a year) after this that they separated when my father moved out of the house. One of the last things they did together was to go to Gino’s, a Baltimore fast food restaurant and local icon, on the Sunday after I broke my foot and bring me a giant bag of food. Even for a big eater like me, they brought way too much for me to consume at one sitting. It was then that I learned that fast food could be refrigerated and reheated the next day.
When I graduated from elementary school in June of 1972, my foot was still in the cast. Because I had quit the school safety patrol the week before I broke my foot, my sixth-grade teacher (who was in charge of said patrol) made sure I did not receive any awards at the ceremony. However, the school principal sat next to me during the ceremony and kept saying things like, “You’re a remarkable young man and I can’t wait to see what you achieve.” I wonder what she would have thought about my baseball career.
The graduation ceremony was held as Tropical Storm Agnes pounded the mid-Atlantic. Of course, you’re not supposed to get a cast wet, at least not in those days before fiberglass casts, so walking outside after the ceremony, even just briefly, meant the cast was doomed. After leaving the school grounds, I went to Dr. Zal’s apartment where we played the song School’s Out by Alice Cooper many, many times. My father picked me up after he closed his gas station at 10 PM and I walked again in the rain. Not long after, the heel fell out of the cast and the cast itself began to disintegrate. That necessitated going back on crutches the last few days before the cast was removed at the end of June.
I don’t think that it’s just the passage of a half-century plus, but sometimes that event seems to have happened in another life and even to another person. Anyway, below is a picture of the elementary school I attended, which was not also a middle school at the time. Things would have been much better for me if it had been, but that’s another story.
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