Thursday, December 01, 2011

Hayden, Nobler Men

A Portrait of Charles Hayden (my hero). Nobler Men was a title from a Time Magazine article written during the depression about founder Charles Hayden.

‘Josiah Willard Hayden's agreeable job is that of giving away $50,000,000. Josiah Hayden is head of the Charles Hayden Foundation, one of the richest in the U. S. It was founded by his bachelor brother, Wall Street Financier Charles Hayden, who, when he died two years ago, left his fortune to "rear a nobler race of men" (TIME, Jan. 25, 1937).

Many a U. S. citizen speculated how his vast bequest might be spent. Charles Hayden stipulated that it be used to promote the "wellbeing, uplifting and development of boys and young men." To Josiah Hayden (whose own needs were well cared for by a $2,000,000 trust fund from his brother), $50,000,000 meant a chance to wave a golden wand, play fairy godfather in a big way.

Banker Charles Hayden (TIME, Jan. 18) set aside the bulk of his $50,000,000 for tune for "the moral, mental and physical wellbeing, uplifting and development of boys and young men."

Son of a wealthy Boston shoe manufacturer, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Charles Hayden specialized in economics and mining engineering. Fore seeing the expansion of electrical power, he made up his mind to get rich in copper. Charles Hayden proposed to do so not by mining copper but by speculating in copper. Year after graduation he took a $3-a-week job as a "ticker boy" to learn the inside of a broker's office. At 21 he was ready to borrow $20,000 from his father, launch his own brokerage business with his officemate Galen L. Stone, whose Milk Street friends put up another $20,000. Hayden, Stone & Co.'s shrewd "market letter" and energetic ways soon brought it a large and profitable clientele.
Ambitious Charles Hayden made it his habit to get to work at 8:30 a.m., systematically budgeted every day's time. Master of every brokerage trick, he drove himself unsparingly through the corporate intricacies of rubber, nickel, public utilities, sugar and oil. He amazed associates by his instantaneous decisions, nettled callers by clipping their conversation short when he foresaw their missions. Partner Stone was silent from the start. Banker Hayden never cultivated an assistant. Until he was stricken last month, he ran his own labyrinthine business by himself, piled up 89 directorships, 58 of which he still held at the time of his death, ranked as a prime Wall Street Power.
Charles Hayden lived quietly at Manhattan's Savoy-Plaza hotel, never married. His comparatively modest interest in charity began when he became interested in the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York. He learned enough of recreational work to want to contribute to a few social service agencies, in 1926 gave $100,000 for the site of an uptown Manhattan boys' club.’ "The businessmen . . . will not have accomplished their full duty," once said reticent Bachelor Hayden, "until there is a Boys' Club in every town . . . in which [boys] may have their God-given right to play and work. . . ."
". . . The future of this nation, and of the world . . . depends in no small part upon the young men. If . . . they be fostered and encouraged in the manner of right and proper living . . . we shall rear a nobler race of men, who will make better and more enlightened citizens, to the ultimate benefit of mankind."

Mon Jan. 25 1987.

And it was this small gift from a man that captured the profit of Wall Street’s imagination through the roaring twenties and the great depression that enveloped how my childhood would be defined.
His brother Josiah, really did play fairy godfather, dispensing this fortune throughout his life within the stated mandate, and Josiah, happened to live in Lexington, working out of Boston he made sure his historically significant darling of a town was well endowed with a sparkling center of arts and athletics, for us the children, like his brother said, “to work and play.” And I did both, my father too and his father had been instrumental in bringing a Hayden center to our hometown of Lexington. As head as the Lex-Rec department in the early 50's, Ivan brokered a peace between the two brothers (Josiah + Charles), took a train to Manhatten and came back with a check for 1 million dollars, and the rest is history. And I would never learn this until much later in life, the gods planned it that way, wierd, I spent my whole life there.

My sister skated six hours a day at Hayden’s lower portion, the ice rink, she was legit and had many more gold medals from big competitions than I had basketball trophy’s from summer camps.
Junior High sucks

Among other low lights I was throw off the seventh grade basketball team for an incident that occurred while playing for the schools soccer team.
I had long held that soccer players were pussies and the only reason I dipped a toe to take time and score a gang of goals is because my father always thought it was my best sport for what I was birthed and repaired to play. He may have been right. Of course we’ll never know. I was so spiritually crushed that it’s a wonder I’m here today.

I was thrown off the soccer team and it sabotaged something I had waited my whole life for. My first try out for a traveling Lexington school basketball team. I remember running up to the list with the avalanche of kids immediately after it was posted. And there was nothing to be said. All's any kid in Lexington wanted to be was a varsity basketball player. I sank on shaken knees and let only my heart drop. I stood there silently, long after the last kids left I’d cry by myself in the hall. Only the sweeping janitor in front of the mini gym saw as I jawed up and walked home, it was the soccer.

No hoops, dam. I knew from Hayden like Mike did that we were already better than the 8th graders besides Terrence’s brother, Kevin.
I couldn’t believe they cut me from the team, a guilty scapegoat yes, but there were many others. Led by the 8th grade (seniors for Junior High), soccer players I was collectively thrown under the bus for my behavior on the away game prior. I'd mooned the center of Weston. I remember being late for soccer practice that fateful afternoon clearing up some “imperial entanglements.” The whole team sat in silence having done the easy thing and give up the kid unable to defend itself. My lateness allowed boldness in the face of mine not being there.

I had missed the summit and it was obvious. I knew the “who” right there, nightly Hayden instincts. I picked the type and the face said the rest. I was shocked and later saddened to learn the type was EA Sports, “rated E for everyone.” It verified the very worst and placed the bat signal on my biggest fear. Especially on that god dam soccer team, curtains And that hallowed feeling itched conspicuous that which I was most afraid of, being alone, missing hoops. It sparked the random emotional breakouts that kept me in therapy. One thing I could tell on that cold fall day were the usual suspects, fag white socials that hate me had got what they wanted. This would be a great day for them, career low for me and as soon as I was within ear shot,

“You get the hell out of here!” Snapping his fingers like he was running hurry up offense. “And your lucky I don’t call both your parents. Get the out of here! Nudity! You can’t be trusted! I knew I should've never carried you!” No one spoke up for me, but I could tell I was conveniently absent from the discussion that just took place. Even the kids in my grade I thought would never give me up, my good friends, caved, blame it on Carl it works every single time. The soccer kids were wealthy, hoops kids were not, I was infringing on their game, and my athletiscm and black toungue had not endeared me.

Anyway kids cower with such tangy pliability in Junior High that I shouldn’t have cared less. The only problem wasn’t that I got in more trouble at school, of course not. I was shattering records. The problem was my parents would find out and, hand grenade, world war three, thanks guys. It made me swell with anger over this town and I promised Jesus I would never be a pussy again. Of course it was so gangster that the coach slash science teacher slash timekeeper for the Celtics tried to front like I hadn’t the talent. It was an awful year and the true severity of what had transpired could be resolved by the fact that Coach Sullivan crossing the rarely stepped over Junior High to High school basketball line crossed over to me. He told me I could practice all year with the JV. He knew I was crushed and this singular event alone might derail me. I declined and Mike was appalled, I was too embarrassed.

Instead I chose to spend my time selling candy while putting together an awful year at school academically, socially I’m big
I obviously told my mother that seventh graders were not allowed to make the Junior High team. She barely bought it but it passed through the house and floated by the senate as my dad seemed satisfied. From his vantage any news that wasn’t bombshell passed reluctantly. Coolness and delinquency had a direct link in the seventh grade. In all of this yuck there was my sisters skating career and always for me there was the Hayden recreation center.

And if Junior High was a minefield, Hayden was heaven. Hayden was my kitchen table to JZ where “I honed my skills” (Blueprint)

And the players and characters I witnessed at Hayden, filled an enormous void in my young, carry out life. That void was life itself and what a powerful home Hayden would prove to be. The quintessential gym (C) rat I spent Mon - Fri five o’clock until closing 9:00 at Hayden playing basketball. On the weekends Magic and I would race to see who’d get there first, and by first, it meant first person out of anyone to be let in.

There we would eat, sleep, drink and play basketball until closing five o’clock which is usually six o’clock for the family, which as luck would have it, Gym directors accepted us as their own. Which meant we were the only Junior High kids allowed to hang out in, ”the office.” We had the blessing of the gyms upper management and everyone at the end of the day appreciated how valiantly we took our devotion to Lexington high school varsity basketball. We'd been varsity locks since the 3rd grade. And we wanted it. And we practiced the most. And you couldn’t help not respect it at a place like Hayden, in Lexington, during the 80's.

Magic was my arch rival, and it was our competing want that kept us coming back on a daily clip. We were the same grade, he was six months older and that alone (in my mind) made me a more coveted college basketball recruit in the 5th grade. Of course in the 5th grade during one of the civil conversations we engaged, there was no college. We were playing for the Celtics. Except me, I was going to be the next Isiah Thomas. It wasn’t until the 6th grade that we realized playing everyday not growing there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it to the NBA.
“We’ll just have to have a great college career, go to school for free. It’ll be a great experience." Magic, who was aging backwards explained, continued, “The Big East,”
“I’m going to Syracuse.” I’d reply, my favorite college team in the 7th grade, Jeff the Hayden gym director was a Syracuse fan from up state New York and I wanted to be like him.
“Georgetown.” Mike would say in one word. They were everything in that era. "Word Mizz" (I called Magic that because Sean called Lloyd "Lizz" and when I was in the 7th grade they were the best backcourt in the country). And every year leading up to high scjool are expectations were dampened to a degree once we entred high school, we just hoped to play legit college ball, somewhere, anywhere, just so long as it was NCAA.

Magic was half black, I had blonde hair although listening to us talk you might think this was the other way around. Magic was well kept, well spoken, well liked and lived down the street from me. In the end what Magic and I did together at Hayden from years eight to fifteen (1985-92) defined us as kids. Magic was good, I was better I was good Magic was better. We were close in everything same height and weight same heart same desire. And in the 7th grade the worst part about being cut from the basketball team was Magic copping the hype. Mike and I competed so much we competed in things entirely made up. And through it all Hayden watched. That funky bunch of a crew, Hayden 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, the Golden years Hayden, they all watched. And it was that audience and the backdrop of varsity stardom that pushed Magic and I in a way you had to respect. And our contrasts were part of our story. Magic was thought out, well received and regarded from many way outside of his age as a precocious kid, an up and comer. Mike was a gifted point guard, a good student that saw the whole floor. And he didn’t turn the ball over, and he did things with the rock other kids twice his age couldn’t do. When we were in 7th grade the Lexington’s boys varsity boasted perhaps the best backcourt in the entire country. Lizz and Shizz, Lloyd and Sean, Fudge and Mr. Matthews, two legit blue chip prospects we crazed adoration upon.

I was the opposite. I was an awful student. I was on medication. I saw only what I wanted to see. I was in juvenile court, almost kept back and not generally well received. Magic gave hope to the next generation that my behavior erased in a zero sum game. I had one arm and packed minimum skills and or acumen with the basketball. I was not the magician I was the nightmare, a defensive animal. I was quick and took shit out man-2-man chest full court D everyday all day. Mike barely played defensive. Magic passed the ball and I stole it. The metaphors of our life played out in a way that spotlighted our competition at Hayden and in that process so intertwined we were blessed with kid nicknames. Magic and the Dream.

I was the “dream” (an early coach Farias camp joke poking fun of the nightmare it was to have an monitor me at camp) and Magic, in grander fashion, was blessed by Lloyd himself 1 summer day in the 7th grade as Magic.

And this was according to the Big Guy, and Coach Farias was a guy that made kid nicknames stick. A powerful voice in our lives. Mike was level I was deranged. Mike was steady, I was quick and packed an envious three point touch. I only had rap knowledge. Magic spoke intelligently about classic rock. Magic spun the ball on his finger I dove for it. Magic spoke like an adult. I spoke like I was raised in a Louisianan orphanage.

And through it all we competed, grew and they watched back then the only similarity Magic and I had was we were the only kids that could stay at Hayden every school night til close at 9PM. The run was dangerous, and every night, the town was big, and the competition was intense. In Lexington even if you didn’t play varsity word got around that you had game and it boosted your name.
“It’s the gift that keeps giving.” Bernstein and Woodword describing Watergate thirty years later.

My father had actually grown up hanging out at Hayden. That was the fifties, Pleasantville. He was one of four children, the paperboy that saved his allowance. I loved the fifties because my father is white. My favorite thing to do in the 80’s was hang out with the nigh time characters at Hayden.

Anyway, Hayden for my dad was a place of riflery, bowling and of course pole vaulting. Pole Vault was his sport. My first job ever was setting up bowling pins manually for the bowlers. Mike worked side by side as we sweated in 1985 for 50 cents an hour. When I first started Barbara the bowling room manager started me at 35 cents. That was a pack of Rolo and or 2 video games under the pretense I could hustle an extra nickel. Cokes were 45 cents. Our boss Barbara publicly lauded me in the halls of Hayden as “the guy that never misses.” She'd tell anyone that wouod listen that in all the years at hayden she'd never seen me miss a shot while passing through the gym. I’d also exercise my endless right hand rehabilitation at Hayden. I was less than enthused about rehabilitation. After what I had just gone through I couldn’t believe there was more. They even switched my appointments from the hospital to Hayden. “Now if I give the guy who never misses fifty more cents this afternoon will you promise to go upstairs in fully participate in your hand exercises?” Barbara would say pinching the quarters with her fingers high my above my three foot head. She’d pat me on the back and say, “go get em.” She was to some considered extremely odd, but then again people said the same thing about me.
“OK, OK, I will, I will, but do you think I can I have a dollar instead Barbara?”
“She looked puzzled. I shined dimples, “for a dollar I’ll promise to do all of my exercises and not be difficult for Beth.” This was a game that I had mastered when I started. Fifteen years later I very randomly walked by her at Union Station in Washington DC, she in stride simply nudged her companion, “look it’s the guy that never misses.” I smiled warmly as fireworks exploded wildly in my head. I was walking with my “artsy” girl at the time who was stunned because I’d recently told her about my first job setting up candle pins and the fact that my first boss referred to me as the guy that never misses. She was skeptical having heard so many bizarre yet true stories from me over such a short period about my life she had no idea what to really believe.

Outside of Hayden I was home, I was in school I was with the therapist at the hospital being tested for stuff no one had even thought of yet. My pulse was my impulsivity, There’s no place like home I mean Hayden.

“Don’t let school get in the way of your education.” Mark Twain

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Grown up! And following in the footsteps of the great man Charles Hayden who gave us the blueprint, thank you Charles, you helped so many kids in NYC and Boston, faces you never saw, lives you affected greatly and never met. And that to me, is what life to a large degree should be about, 1.

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