If Memory Serves

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No, I am not crazy. After listening to this you may not agree with me, but hey that's what makes horseracing.

Recently, I was talking with a very old friend from long ago; I mentioned the citywide basketball tournament held at Madison Square Garden when we attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. I asked if he remembered the final game in 1956, when we beat Commerce High after edging Thomas Jefferson by a single point in the semis. He said he didn't.

"But you must," I argued. "You sat with me for both games. Don't you remember that big lummox, Stu Gottdenker, tipping the great Tony Jackson's jump shot at the buzzer...?"  He didn't.  "Well, how about the quarterfinals in 1959, when our undersized team beat towering, fearsome George Washington 89-63...." That rang a bell. Kind of.

A quick internet search revealed neither Erasmus nor Commerce won the title in 1956, it was DeWitt Clinton!? Clinton? No way! Did they even have a basketball team?

I could not drop this. That reflected glory had been part of me for 50-odd years! How could I be so wrong? And after ruining my eyes scanning several hundred plus entries in the New York Times archives, I found partial redemption. Semifinal: Erasmus 59, Jefferson 58. Yes! Then the final: Uh Oh. Commerce 63, Erasmus 56. Well, at least it wasn't Clinton.


Did Erasmus destroy Washington three years later? Yes we did, but in the so-called consolation game for third place. No consolation to me. How towering and fearsome was a team that lost by 22 the day before?

And what does all my undue diligence prove? Nothing. It strongly suggests, however, that there might be a large gulf between actual events and our remembrance of them and its our remembrance that we cherish.  I see what I thought I saw, therefore I am what I think I am. Now if I can apply this little lesson to some of the imagined wrongs done to me that I also cherish that would not be crazy but terribly sane. And it just might free some space in my mind for worthwhile things.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Friedlander.

Richard Friedlander is a mediator, author and actor. He lives in the East Bay.