The Adolescents II

The pursuit of girls took an awful lot of time and energy during my last two years of high school. Never did I have a steady girl friend. No high school sweetheart. Nothing more or less complicated than playing artful games, when I could afford it—dancing to the big bands at Jantzen Beach or McElroy’s or the Uptown—swimming and picnicking at Blue Lake Park— taking a date to the movies—-hanging around Coon Chicken Inn afterward—necking in a parked car up on Rocky Butte.

I think it was the irascible Groucho Marx who once said, “Whoever called it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.”

***

John Moore and I have enjoyed a close, 60-year friendship of unusual intimacy.

At the start, John and I were only casual friends. He was one year behind me at Washington High. But we became involved together in various campus projects and eventually became close friends and skiing buddies. I visited his home near Mt. Tabor several times. In later years, as bachelors, we also shared an apartment just off the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

John’s parents were warm and welcoming people. Colonel Henry H. Moore, John’s father, had retired from the US Army after spending some 25 years in the service. As a young officer, he had served with the famed Philippine Scouts at Arayat, Pampanga and Batangas in the early part of the century. He told spirited stories of fighting against the pulajanes in Samar. Later, he served at Corregidor Island. The Colonel was a devout family man, an officer and a gentleman. John was devoted to his father—and to his mother, a charming, twinkle-eyed lady who had known the life of a military wife in the Philippines before the outbreak of the First World War.

***

Most radio sets in both America and Europe were tuned in the night of the second Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight in 1938. It had taken on political overtones far beyond a world heavyweight championship bout. It was “USA versus Nazi Germany.” The buildup was intense.

Max Schmeling, the ex-champ, had surprised the boxing world in 1936 by beating a fast-rising, undefeated Joe Louis, His unexpected win made Schmeling the sporting hero of Nazi Germany. Decorated by Adolph Hitler, married to a German film star, entertained by the likes of Hermann Goering and other Nazi bigwigs, Schmeling became as big an icon in swinging, prewar Berlin as Marlene Dietrich.

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