Conversation Starter by David D. Horowitz
As a child, I always regretted the end of summer vacation. How I loved waking late, playing softball until dusk, and gathering afterward with friends for sodas, ice cream, and raucous conversation.
School offered pleasures, too: I enjoyed studying history and literature and math, and I respected many of my teachers. So, I invariably had mixed feelings about the first day of school—and early September still evokes those feelings in me.
Being new to a school, though, added a special edge to early September. It’s not easy being “the new kid.” Such was the case when I returned to school in September 1963. My father had been hired as a sociology professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, so I moved with my family from Geneva, New York, in the Finger Lakes Region, to University City, Missouri, a suburb just outside of Saint Louis. I was not only a new kid at Jackson Park Elementary School, but I had a big plaster cast on my left arm. I stood out and felt it. Just before the move, I had climbed atop a garage roof to try to knock some horse chestnuts from a big branch, and, whoa! I fell about fifteen feet on my left arm. I went to the local hospital in Geneva and wore a cast for about six weeks. The itching and inconvenience seemed almost unbearable.
Finally, though, my left arm healed, and a doctor removed the cast. Hooray! I could play tetherball at recess! I could catch a softball! I could, unencumbered, carry my school materials home in my left hand. And, blessedly, I wasn’t being asked “What happened to your left arm?” all the time! That said, my broken arm was a great conversation starter. I don’t advise anyone break their left arm to make friends, but it did help me meet some schoolmates who would later become some of my best friends. So, as my broken arm healed, I made friends because of it, and I healed from the loss of my friends in Geneva. I had found a new home.