Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Big Mo (Skinny Dipping and Other Stories)

If I had to make a list of top 5 feelings in life, somewhere on that list would be the feeling you get when you’re having a great time with great friends. You know what I mean, right? Just that feeling that washes over you right when you are in the middle of hanging out, having fun, being silly or maybe acting a little stupid ;) and makes you think, Right here right now I am having the time of my life!! When I read Big Mo’s childhood stories about things he did with his friends, that’s the feeling that I always get. It’s like he has bottled one of the very, very, very best feelings into his stories, so we can all take a little sip any time we want. Icy lemonade on a summer day, hot chocolate on a winter day, Mo’s stories any time any day, yeah, that’s the effect Mo has on us, and that’s pretty awesome.

Mo McCooper
Skinny Dipping

Actually we were in our under shorts.  The girls wore T-Shirts also.  We would be celebrating spring by tiptoeing into creeks or ponds within a few miles of our homes.  Lots of laughter and wise cracks from about 5th grade to 8th grade when it was obvious that we could no longer be co-ed without blushing and/or embarrassment.  It was always a wet, cold walk home.  Nobody had towels and nobody was allowed to use these private waterways.

Mo McCooper
The Delanos

The Delanos twins, Frankie and Anita, and little sister Joannie and their parents lived in a house next door to my parents’ bar.  Frank was two years behind me and one year behind my cousin Johnny at the Catholic grade school.  When my dad would drive us to the seashore, my cousin Joey who was three years older would babysit us in the back of the pick-up truck with a few lucky other little guys.  Dad and one or two other men in the front of the truck would go to the race track in Atlantic City while we all went to the beach.  Joey was our idol so there were no problems at the beach. 

Seeing Anita and Joannie waving goodbye to us as the truck pulled away was a beautiful sight but there also was a twinge of sadness in their beautiful faces. It didn’t seem like girls had as much fun and that wasn’t fair!

Mo McCooper
Pike’s Peak
On the edge of town, we lived the an apartment over a tavern on the highway and  my cousin Joey, who was 3 years older than I, would come to take me places.  Sometimes my mom, his Aunt Katy or my mom’s little sister who I knew as Aunt Nancy would give Joey some change for ice cream cones at a place a few blocks away.  Teenagers also went to dance there.  We could stand around the juke box and watch the records spin.  The girls were called “Bobby Soxers” and the boys “Jitterbugs”. 
Joey was saying something funny all of the time.  He made everything we did together a lot of fun.  I idolized him. 
The name of the place with the dance floor was “Pikes’s Peak”.  Later in life I learned that it was named after a famous early American Landmark.

Mo McCooper
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Starting in the summer between 7th and 8th grade when I was still under 5 feet tall, I would hide in a big bunch of bushes next to the town playground and find tennis balls before the owners came to look for them.
If the balls were brand new we would get another kid to return them. The others we took to streets in the north end of town where usually an older kid, better with a knife than we, would cut the ball in half.  Usually teams of three would then play half ball with broom handles as bats.  I was awful at this game.  The worst pitchers could strike me out every time.
One of the reasons I put up with being the butt of the jokes and the last one chosen was the food which the neighbors would bring out to us on the sidewalks.  Lemonade, iced tea, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other tasty treats.  But the finest food of all was Bobby Neely’s mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies and homemade iced tea with real lemons and fresh mint.  FANTASTIC!