Penny Memory

I was introduced to a very cool ice-breaker Monday night at the Charlotte Catholic High School Foundation Board meeting.  Our board’s president, Renee Spero, placed a penny at each seat at the table.  Since it was the first board meeting of the school year, she asked each of us to introduce ourselves, tell what business we were in and how we were connected to the Catholic School system.  Then she asked us to pick up the penny, take a look at the year and share something about that year with the other board members.

The year on my penny was 1979.  What do I remember most about 1979?  I had to think of something quickly because Rene started with Catholic’s Principal Jerry Healy, who was sitting next to me.      

Was it my first foray into entrepreneurship, selling Playboy and Penthouse magazines that I had stolen from Ken’s Quickie Mart to my fellow students?  Maybe, but the idea was to break the ice, not get kicked off the board.  Was it when my sister Lisa smacked me across the face so hard in a Howard Johnson’s in Times Square that I fell out of the booth?  I was making fun of her for dying her hair.  It’s a long story.  Too long for the board meeting. 

Jerry finished his memory of 1987.  I can’t remember what it was because I was so busy racking my brain trying to think of an appropriate memory that I didn’t hear a word of his until he said, “Let’s go to my left.  I always love to hear from Oakley.”  Great.  Thanks Jerry.  I don’t know what it is about high school authorities, but they never seem to cut me a break. 

I told the group my name and that I was married to a wonderful woman named Claire and that we have two kids that went through the Catholic School System.  Sydney, who is now a sophomore at UNC and Lucas who is a junior at Catholic.

I said the year on my penny is 1979.  In 1979, I was on the high school football team.  That fall, my girlfriend, Nancy Pitts, gave me two tickets to a concert for my birthday.  That was great, but the concert was on a weeknight and I had football practice every day after school.  If I wanted to go to the concert, I would have to leave practice early.  And that meant that I’d have to ask Coach Hawkins.  Coach Hawkins was our football coach and football coaches don’t have much sympathy for players who want to leave practice early to go to a concert with their girlfriend. 

At the beginning of practice at 3:30 on the day of the show, I told Coach Hawkins about my dilemma.  Coach Hawkins agreed to let me leave at 5:00 on two conditions:  One, I had to gather the team and tell them why I was leaving practice.  And as soon as I told them I had to start running laps around the field.  I was not to stop until 5:00. 

I agreed to do it for one reason:  Nancy Pitts was hot.  Smoking hot. 

The hour and 15 minutes of running in full pads was easy.  Telling the entire football team that I was going to see the BeeGees was not.

And that’s my memory of 1979.

Once I had told my story, I was able to sit back, relax and listen.  I heard some colorful stories about my fellow board members.  The 1982 Van Halen groupie.  The Deadhead summer of 1974.  The 1989 first trip to Paris.  

Thanks for introducing me to the Penny Memory, Renee.  I think I’ll use it at our next new business meeting.