Even though I’d been put in a special program reserved for problem kids, the best thing about going to junior high is I got to reconnect with my friends from Yankee Ridge. That’s me and Steve Tyler in the front row and Andy Miller is waving his arm in the back. I joined the newspaper staff (Tiger Tracks) but was soon relegated to being “jokes” editor, which involved copying jokes out of paperback books and turning them in to the editor. The lamer the jokes, the more she seemed to like them.
The head alpha-male in my class was Harvey Treat, who looked like a young John Wayne. Harvey was already starting quarterback, a position he’d continue to hold all through high school. Harvey also played guitar and performed solo at one of our sock-hops. His guitar sound was similar to the Ventures, all instrumental and lots of reverb. When Harvey found out I was on the staff of Tiger Tracks, he asked me to slip his name into the gossip column, which I was able to do once. (“We like the way Harvey Treat sings ‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano.”) But when I tried a second time, the editor nixed it. She, like some of the more conservative girls in school, had already taken a dislike to Harvey I guess.
Since Tiger Tracks wasn’t really providing much of an outlet, I soon created my own publication, The Cap’n Crunch Courier. (The name was taken from my favorite breakfast, which had the highest sugar content of any cereal in the supermarket at the time.) I wish I could find a copy; I thought I saved some. It was a comedy fanzine that I Xeroxed at my dad’s office in the biochemistry department. My mom encouraged me to publish the paper and helped me make the copies. One of my main targets was Mr. Walljasper, the assistant principal and school disciplinarian. There were a lot of funny stories and cartoons about me and my friends. My cousins Tom and Jerry had turned me onto a new fad in California that had just emerged: skateboarding. My weekends were spent tooling around campus on my Makaha board.
Fortunately, I do have some of the original cartoons I published in the Cap’n Crunch Courier. I remember sitting in the lunchroom one day and I looked across and someone was showing Mr. Walljasper a cartoon making fun of him that I drew and published. I ducked down and just hoped nobody pointed me out as the culprit. Walljasper was interested in finding out who was responsible, but he never did confront me or catch me handing out copies.
When JFK was assassinated, they herded us all into the gym for a moment of silence. By the following year, the Generation Wars would commence. Some people call it the Generation Gap, but it was really a war.