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|An Old Boxer (standard:Psychological fiction, 2816 words)|
|Author: Joe E.||Added: Aug 12 2006||Views/Reads: 1958/1471||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|An Old Boxer is a story about a high school student who reflects on the life of his grandfather who finds the meaning of life in his career as a professional boxer.|
"An Old Boxer" When you're as old as I am, a high school senior, some times, you start asking yourself some strange questions, like, "Dude, what's it all about?" You start thinking about what it is that makes you a man. My dad tells me, "A big part of what you are is your past, your history." 'Course, he's a history teacher. What else would he say? Still, there's some truth to that. What did we read in Lit. One? "You have to pay for the sins of your fathers." But, still, I wonder every now and then what is it that makes you a man? What is it that defines a life? Are we just a product of history or is there more to a man than that? I remember my dad's father telling him, "That was the best part of my whole life, the fight game. When I was training for a fight, I was in tiptop condition. I wasn't afraid of any man alive. I had my whole life in front of me, and I knew I could do anything.... I thought it would never end. I thought it would never end...." I was only four or five years old at the time, but what he said always stuck with me. My grandfather was an old boxer. He told me that once. I remember he talked real loud. He wore a hearing aid, but it never worked right, always made this buzzing sound. He went into his fighting stance and a big grin came over his stubbled face. He told me, "I'm just an old boxer, Jackie.... You know, what the fellow says, 'Old boxers never die, we jus' fade away.'" My dad told me he didn't want me to remember grandpa the way he was now, a sick old man. He had stayed in shape right up until the accident. He said, "You wouldn't believe how fast his hands were." This was back in 1985 right after I started kindergarten. He had come to live with us. I use to look at his boxing photo even before he came. When I was real little I use to think it was my dad. But, I learned that my dad is right handed. The guy in the picture is a leftie. He's in a boxing stance with his right arm thrust forward and his left cocked. He's wearing these black leather shoes with long laces, and white sox rolled down to the top of his shoe. His feet are wide apart and he's up on his left toe with his right foot planted. He's got on these tan shorts, kind of baggy, and his gloves are real thin, the ones you work the bag with. His hair is slicked back close to his head and you can see his ears. As I got older, I tried to stand like a leftie. But, it's hard. It doesn't feel right. It made me feel proud to have a professional boxer in the family even when I was a little tike. My grandfather's story, like so many that shared with him the American Dream, began on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. His parents migrated from the coalfields of Lithuania, to a coal-mining town in Scotland, where he was born, and then after they scrimped and saved for several years, crossed over the Atlantic and settled in the coal region of Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. My great grandfather worked in the mines and quickly saved up enough to open a small taproom where he earned a good living. Then, the First World War broke out. My great grandpa went to Philadelphia with a buddy of his to work in the shipyards. In a couple of years he saved up enough to open up his own lumber company. He moved the whole family to the city for two or three years. Then, they returned to Mt. Carmel where he opened up a saloon and restaurant. This was a real moneymaker. But, I remember Aunt Marian saying my great grandfather started drinking. He always did like a good time. He had an eye for the women, too. He began spending more and more of his earnings on wine, woman, and song. My great grandma, stayed at home with her seven children, and put up with more and more of his abuse. By this time, my granddad was twelve years old and in sixth grade. Time to drop out of school and go to work in the mines, as most boys his age did back in Mt. Carmel in the early 1900's. But, Grandpa was determined not to give his soul up to the mining company. "When you go down to the mines in the morning, you never know whether you'll come out again or not," he told my dad. He returned to Philadelphia and got a job as Western Union boy, drove a bike to deliver messages. Cars were just coming out around this time. Most city dwellers still drove horse and carriage. Click here to read the rest of this story (170 more lines)
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