“Well, I guess that’s it.”
Royal Davis said that in 1964. It was later in September, after we had tried a few more times to keep our club going. We just couldn’t do it.
Two years earlier, right after school started when we were in the seventh grade, Royal and Bruce Sylvia and me decided one day after playing football on Royals’ front lawn that we were going to start a secret club. We called it “The Boys Club”. Only the three of us were members. Royal lived six houses down from me on High Street, right where Route 6 came up the hill and kept going up past the town hall on the way to New Bedford. His father was a Doctor and they had a lot of money. It was a big white house with a nice lawn that ran between the house and Route 6. When we played football there we often had built in fans, people sitting in their cars waiting for the light to change on Route 6. It was after one of these games that we went into the garage at the end of Royal’s driveway – big enough for two cars and a second floor loft, and we made the decision to start a club for after school meetings. We decided that we would build the club in the space between the side of the garage and the fence that separated the next house, back towards my house. Over the next three weeks, after school and on all three Saturdays, we found pieces of lumber and some big old painters canvas sheets, and Bruce’s mother gave us four old folding chairs – our clubhouse wasn’t a total secret – and early in October we had our first meeting of “The Boys Club.”
It was so cool. We had a table of an old telephone cable wire spool and some candles and flashlights. We had a bunch of magazines we all collected and “borrowed from home” and a couple from five-finger discounts too: ‘Mad’ and ‘Field and Stream’, ‘National Geographic’, three old ‘Playboys’, and two brand new ‘Fast Cars and Fast Girls’, the ones Bruce slipped under his jacket in the 5 & 10. We had a radio too, it ran on batteries, and whenever we were just hanging out if was turned on to WBZ or WMEX — Bruce Bradley, Dave Maynard, Arnie “WooWoo Ginsberg or some other cool disc jockey playing rock and roll.
We always shook each others hands to start our meetings. We vowed to stay friends forever. Usually there was some snack one of us had smuggled out of the house, raisins or fig newtons, even m & ms. Every once in a while we pulled out a hidden stash of old pipes and a bag of cherry blend tobacco and smoked and told stories of school that day. I think it was three, maybe four times, in those two years we had a female friend, or two. There was even some kissing. Royal told us one time, alone in the club house, that he had touched Patty Harmon’s left breast. That was a big deal.
Our club house meetings two or three afternoons a week went on for two years. Then, in the fall of 1964, it stopped working. Bruce transferred to a Catholic High School over in Dartmouth, and didn’t get home til just before five every afternoon. Royal had always been going to a private school in Marion, the next town over, but when he became a freshman his parents made him join a debating team and a scholars club and that meant he didn’t get home until much later three days a week. I just walked a few more yards over to my home town’s high school, across the parking lot from junior high, so nothing changed for me, but there was usually no one around. We tried Saturdays a couple of times, but Saturdays are best when you just get up and do what you decide to do then.
So the last Thursday in September of 1964 – when we all met after dinner – Royal said “I guess that’s it”, and the three of us shook hands and went home. I wouldn’t have said we went our separate ways, but I guess we did. When we said goodbye to The Boys Club.