Me, a Citizenship Award?

Happy Hump Day to All!

Again, I’d like to begin this post as I always do, by thanking everyone who’s supported my book/blog for their interest, support, and kind feedback!

A special thanks to those of you who’ve purchased the book and taken the time to write a review on Amazon, B&N, Lulu.com, etc. It means a great deal, and all honest reviews, thoughts and comments are most welcome and truly appreciated! I’ve added a new menu tile to make access to sites, such as Amazon, etc., just a click away.

In today’s post I continue on with sharing photos that provide some background/backstory on how they relate to the story and/or setting in the book.  In Chapter 10, I describe how when in the fourth grade I was attending the John D. Philbrick School in Roslindale (a Boston neighborhood), and was sent home with a sealed envelope addressed to my parents.  Here’s the school:

John D. Philbrick School

I couldn’t imagine the contents, but trudged home full of dread at what it could possibly contain.  What had I done wrong?  Here’s an excerpt:

“You do a good job,” she said. “I trust you with everything, you know that. You were always a good boy. I remember the time you won that award in fourth grade for being a polite citizen.”

It was surprising that she remembered that, yet alone brought it up. “It was a citizenship award, Ma,” I said. “Yeah, I remember. I got it when I was in the fourth grade at the Philbrick School in Roslindale.”……….

“Oh, yes, that’s right. It was a special award for being the politest boy in the whole school!” she said.
It was toward the end of the school year, and my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. McMillan, had asked me to stay after class, where she handed me a sealed envelope that had my mother’s name handwritten on it in Mrs. McMillan’s flowing penmanship.

“Now you take this straight home and give it to your mother, okay?” instructed Mrs. McMillan. “And don’t you open it,” she added.

I couldn’t imagine anything I’d done wrong to deserve a note home to my parents, but I only said, “Yes, Mrs. McMillan.” I walked, somber, over the two blocks back to the apartment, full of wonder and dread at what could be in that envelope and confused that I couldn’t figure it out. Ma was in the kitchen drinking tea at the table and smoking a cigarette. WRKO was on the radio, and Peter, Paul, and Mary were singing “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

I handed Ma the mysterious envelope and just stood there waiting for whatever shoe was about to fall. Ma tore it open, read it, smiled, and then put it on the table before bending down to give me a quick hug.

“You’re the best boy in the whole school!” she exclaimed.

I could only manage a soft, “What?”

“It says right here: ‘Michael David Boudreau has been selected as the citizenship award recipient for the John D. Philbrick Elementary School for school year 1966, signed, James R. Lernigan, principal’!”…..

“And do you remember Dad bought you a bike for winning?” Ma was now saying.

“Wow, I’d forgotten about that,” I said, although I hadn’t.

It was a couple of nights later, and my parents had gone out. I found myself once again staring out of the living room window in the dark, straining for any sign of their return. They were later than usual this time, and my heart was racing with a growing fear that this was going to be the night they really wouldn’t be coming back. When they finally pulled up, I raced out to the kitchen and back to my abandoned homework, pretending I’d been doing it all along. Now I was able to concentrate, and my anxiety was starting to slip away.

Ma came through the apartment front door, passed through the living room, and then walked down the hall to the kitchen. “Hey you,” she said, in a cheerier-than-usual voice. “Your father needs you downstairs to help him carry something.”

All I could think was maybe he’d hit his numbers again and was bringing Ma home a new television or something for their bedroom. I pushed away from my geography homework and ran down the two flights of stairs to the front of the house, where my father was waiting on the porch, grinning about something.

“Whaddya think, pal?” Dad asked, pleased with himself. Still in his work clothes, he was steadying a shiny new Columbia Flyer bicycle by the handlebars as my eyes swept over it in disbelief.
“Is that for me?” I said in hopeful expectation, afraid to get excited and wondering what in the world was happening and why. Was it the citizenship award? It must be!

“Yup, ain’t it a fuckin beauty? Take it for a spin!” Dad said, carrying it down to the sidewalk. It was a beauty all right. It was candy-apple red with white pinstripes, and it had huge chrome fenders that reflected the brilliant light shining down from the streetlamp. The handlebars were just as shiny, with long red and white tassels streaming down from the white rubber grips. It really was a new bike, and it really was mine.

I couldn’t find a surviving photo of that bike, but this cool ad from around that time in the 1960’s gives a great idea of my prize!

Columbia Flyer Ad (1)

As I was looking for any photos relative to my time at the John D. Philbrick, I stumbled upon this oldie but goodie–it shows me, in unnecessarily short trousers, participating in the 1966 or so school’s May Day dance in the schoolyard.

May Day Dance

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Thanks to all for reading, and hope to see you back here soon!

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