In 1938 came the rematch. The previous year, Joe Louis had defeated James J. Braddock for the title and now, “The Brown Bomber” was ready.
A crowd of 80,000 crammed into Yankee Stadium for the event. But the wise guys and their blonde girlfriends at ringside had barely settled in their seats when Louis unleashed a vicious attack that sent Schmeling sprawling to the canvas five times. The last time, a powerful right hand punch, put the German down for good—scarcely two minutes into the first round. The first round!
I was staying with my grandparents the night of that fight. I remember that I had just stretched out on the floor in front of the radio, getting comfortable with a pillow under my head, when it was all over. My grandmother and I stood up and cheered.
One reason “double dating” was popular in my youth was simply because so many of the fellows needed rides. Only a handful of high school “boomers” owned cars. Few families owned more than one car. Many families owned none at all. So borrowing the family car in order to take a girl out on a date was a familial struggle every weekend all around town. Many of the kids simply doubled up- two or three couples in one borrowed car.
I think it was shortly after my sixteenth birthday, maybe later, that my mother finally let me borrow the Hudson-Terraplane. A double date was not what I had in mind. I had lined up a date with a curvy, tousle-haired tease named Patricia Karasik. Better known as Patty.
My adolescent dream of a torrid Friday night turned into a fiasco. After cuddling our way through a meaningless movie, we drove out to a secluded, dead end lane I knew about, under the trees near Eastmoreland. It was an idyllic setting, frequented by young lovers.
The night was still young. A soft, steady rain was falling. Inside the Hudson-Terraplane, it was steamy and mellow. I draped my arm around Patty as I wheeled in under the trees. Then, I made the wrong move. A couple in a pickup truck had parked in my favored spot, so I swerved sharply into an obscure opening on the left—into what turned out to be a sea of mud. I made a futile attempt to pull out of the muck, stepping down hard on the gas pedal. The wheels began spinning, digging deeper into the mud. Soon, we were stuck up to the hubcaps and going nowhere.