There he is….my pal…Abraham Lincoln. You’re probably asking yourself why this “Jack” guy is claiming to be pals with good ol’ Honest Abe, right? I mean Abe’s been dead for more than a 100 years….and I’m pretty old myself, but certainly not THAT old…so how the hell could I claim he’s my pal? I’ll tell ya……….
Let’s go back to Madison High School (that’s in NJ). The year was 1964….I was a Junior at MHS. It was lunch time and I was in the cafeteria with the usual crew of lads I hung out with….there was Pete West, Pete Jilleba, Drew Bartlett, and some other phantom recollections of attendance that day…I think Dick Herbst was there, he was our Quarterback for the football team….Doug Hale…I don’t know it gets foggy after my regular crew, but it’s really unimportant….what “IS” important is how Abe saved my bacon that day.
Seems lunch was nearly done and as was often my custom I was standing at the head of the table telling a joke (After all I would be voted class comedian the following year, so I should have been telling jokes). But that day something crept into the routine that just didn’t feel right…I was telling a joke…I don’t even remember which one I was telling but the audience, if you will, seemed somewhat distracted and not really into the story. I was coming to the punch line and I felt like a stand up comedienne who’s audience just walked out. This was not the usual response I got from the lads when telling a joke….no, there was something very wrong and I couldn’t figure out what it was.
I studied the faces of those guys and noticed darting looks somewhere behind me as the story was coming to it’s finale….then all the gazes went down to their lunch trays and it looked like these guys were getting ready to pray or something….I was totally confused…..and then it happen….Ol’ Abe to the rescue!
When the guys started staring at their lunch trays something caught my eye of the wall behind them….up on the wall was the portrait of Abraham Lincoln…and in the glass of Abe’s portrait was a reflection of someone approaching me from behind….I immediately recognized that outline….it was the outline of the “Dean of Boys”, Mr. Bennett, as he snuck up behind me…..he was going to catch me telling a filthy joke and banish me from the lunch room forever. So, instead of the punchline to the joke, I said in a loud voice…..”Then I asked the Minister if there was anything else I could do for him before I went home to study.”
To say there was a chorus of laughter from the table full of guys would have been the mildest description I could give. When I turned around and pretended to notice Mr. Bennett and then said, “Hey Mr. Bennett….how are you today sir?” Another eruption of laughter was sent forth from the table….Mr. Bennett said, “Pearsall, follow me”! We walked to the front of the cafeteria and Mr.Bennett stood in front of me for what seemed like an eternity…crimson in the face….and then he uttered in a low controlled voice, “Get a haircut”! He then turned on heel and walked away in a fashion only a defeated Dean of Boys could…..it was nirvana!
So there you have it….that’s how Abraham Lincoln saved me 99 years after John Wilkes Booth shot him! I still think Abe’s a peach!