Big Jerry

Another unforgettable character from my childhood was “Big Jerry”. We didn’t give him that nickname, I only use it to distinguish him from the other Jerry of the neighborhood.

Jerry was a little older than I was, about 5 years older than me I guess. Because of his obesity, he was not very popular in high school and tended to befriend the younger kids on the block,  most of which including myself thought it was kind of neat to have someone to pal around from time to time that was that much older. 

When I say that Jerry was obese I mean very unhealthy obese. I still remember that when he reported for the draft he weighed in at 410 pounds. That in itself must have been very humiliating. Needless to say, Jerry never needed to worry about being inducted after that.

Back then there were at least two movie theaters within walking distance. The Westmount (about the Westmount) and the Ritz. The Westmount being closest was the one most often visited especially if Jerry was with us. Just a city block away on the north side of West Broad street. It was always a problem for Jerry finding a seat because of his weight. I don’t remember if Jerry actually broke the seat at the time or if it was broken by someone else, but because of the broken arm rest this made a comfortable spot for Jerry to sit. Two seats but Jerry used it as one seat for him. This was Jerry’s seat and for many years and it seemed that the management did not fix it. Whether it was intentionally left that way or not I don’t know but we had to sit in that row because Jerry always sat there.

Another activity that took place was baseball in the alley. Now, the alleys were very narrow with gravel and dirt but that made no difference to us. We still used a regular baseball and bat to play “first bounce or fly”. I can’t believe there were no more broken windows then there were. I remember just Jerry and I one day were hitting some grounders to each other when the accident occurred. Jerry missed a grounder that I hit – probably because of a bad bounce – and all of a sudden he was clutching his mouth and bleeding profusely with two or three of his front teeth  gone. I was scared to death thinking about the consequences but after a few days and apologies, everyone realized it was an accident and that was that. Needless to say Jerry never participated in any future alley bat and ball activities from then on. I don’t know if Jerry wore a partial after my parents and I moved, I just lost track of him after moving, but I do know he did not have any dental work done while we still lived in the neighborhood. A constant reminder of that scary day every time I saw him.

Jerry passed away at age 55. Another one of the unforgettable characters from my childhood.

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