Charlie Rogers

Ditti was the original party animal. Most of his parties lasted into the wee hours of morning. After I had my license, Ditti would sleep in the truck while I drove and made the deliveries. Eventually his boss saw through the rouge and I lost my job. We still worked together till I completed my junior year

Ditti introduced me to his boss, Mr. Turco of Morningside Farms and informed him of my talents. He told him I earned a few dollars during the summer painting signs for the local merchants. Mr. Turco asked if I could paint the company name across the building in one foot letters. I assured him I could and proceeded with the sign project that weekend. During the morning I had need to use the bathroom at Morningside. The next morning I awoke with an intense itching in my underwear. In the bathroom I discovered that I had live company. Horrified, I called my father. He smiled and told me I had crabs. On his recommendation I bought some blue ointment and sulfuric soap. I also shaved myself bald. Gad! I never felt so dirty or embarrassed.

I stayed home from school that day and kept out of sight near the apartment house entrance. Every hour I would repeat the application which didn't seem to make me feel any cleaner. Toward the end of the day, who should walk by but the truant officer, Charlie Rogers, a real pleasant old fellow who served as a drummer boy in the Cuban \ American War. "what is the matter Clarence", he asked.

"I picked something up off a toilet seat", I told him.

"Have you seen a doctor"? "No", I replied, "I bought some blue ointment".

He laughed in a good natured manner and told me not to feel ashamed. The army is loaded with them. I realized later that he was a hands on authority.

Around this time, I can't remember exact dates, The VFW established a fife and drum corps. From what my father had taught me of drumming, I immediately joined the group. Our first drummer and instructor was non-other than Charlie Rogers, the drummer boy of San Juan Hill. What a beautiful personality. His love for people seemed to flow forth. He was a small, short person, the shortest in the whole group. Yet he was the tallest to all of us. We loved him. The high school band leader invited me to join the school band, but my loyalties were solidly established with the VFW.

We attended many parades that summer, but the following year the corps dissolved. I never did understand what happened.

Our practice sessions were held in the gymnasium of the catholic school. Also, in the same gym, another night was dedicated to boxing. We had some promising fellows who did enter local amateur status and made decent recognition in the boxing world. One particular fellow, Adolph Pandellfini, who would have made boxing a career, was killed in France. He was well like by us all and we were saddened by the news of his death. I did become quite proficient, but never entered a public ring. It was a skill I never appreciated more than during Navy training sessions. I was immune to shiners and KOs

GO TO the next chapter in my life

RETURN to the table of contents

RETURN to the Clarence Coogan Home Page