And so began my relationship with one William McClory. In 1975 Mr. McClory was a teacher at my grade school, St Vincent de Paul, in Mays Landing New Jersey. Several years later he became Bill Man, my brother-in-law. Married to my oldest sister Jane, or Jannie Cakes as my brother Tommy refers to her. Then he became father to my godson, Sean, a great kid. I’ll save you all the arithmetic, I have 7 brothers and sisters. I am seventh in line, Jannie Cakes is third and oldest sister of five. She was 10 years younger than Bill.
A year or two after they married, Bill Man became my beach buddy. I got to spend a week with Bill Man and my sister at their house in Woodbine, not far from Sea Isle City, NJ. Osage Ave, as they called the place (this is a south Jersey/Phila reference to the Move org – google it) was a little oasis that summer.
Bill and I would hit the beach around 9:30-10am and pick our spot. Had the whole joint to ourselves. Then we would mock the shoobies as they trudged onto the beach around 1pm. (shoobies – people from phila so named because they carried all their crap to the beach in shoe boxes in the late 50ies, now it’s just a term of derision)
Bill taught me to surf, we played endless games of horse shoes on the beach and he taught me how to pee in the ocean right before loading up to go home. Quite possibly the funniest thing he ever did, Bill would put on his visor, sunglasses, pick up his can of coke that was actually rum and coke, and hoof down to the water, going in about waist high. Then he would stand there, gazing out over the ocean and all of God’s creations with this go to hell stance, hands on hips, head moving slowly back and forth, all the while peeing as if no one knew what he was doing.
No one would mess with him anyway. He grew up there. Bill was mayor of that beach.
That one week became a summer ritual almost the entire time I lived in South Jersey.
A graduate of LaSalle College in Philadelphia, an ROTC graduate during the Vietnam era with a extremely high and extremely lucky draft number, Bill spent his life teaching kids in grade school. Hell he taught me a ton. Not the least of which, it really wasn’t a rock kicking contest. From that very first encounter in the schoolyard parking lot when I was in third grade, to the last time I saw him on a visit home to Jersey, he was always teaching.
He was cool. And I miss him. Bill died suddenly this year, way too early.
My life in Knoxville has prevented me from getting home for some major family events. But missing his funeral hurts the most.
Seems like only yesterday Mr. McClory was coming over to play ice hockey on the lake across the street with my two older brothers.
Today is Bill Man’s birthday.
No ocean to pee in here in Knoxville Bill Man. But today I taught Frank how to pee outside on a tree.
I’ll be damned if he didn’t put his hands on his hips and slowly look around while he did it.