Season 6 Narrations

(Ep 94 - "Homecoming")

There was a road that ran near the edge of my town. Out where the suburbs were still farms. I used to go there nights, that autumn of nineteen-seventy-two. I was sixteen. I had a girl. I had a car. I had a job. I was full of night...and life. I just wasn't ready to go home. That year, I travelled streets I'd never known before. I pushed against the limits of my suburban life. I had no idea exactly what lay ahead. All I knew was...I was running out of time. And I was gonna bust if something didn't happen...soon. In nineteen-seventy-two, the country was at war. With its armies...with its ideals...with itself. The dreams of the '60's were battling a new decade. And things were happening everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.
MR. DEEKS: Open your books to chapter six, section thirteen. The rise of post-agricultural Europe.
Eleventh-grade. The no-man's land of public education.

They say men are children. But, sometimes...children are men. Maybe that's where the confusion lies. All I knew was...that night...the world seemed suddenly very big. And I felt very small. So I did what I could.
(Kevin releases the Central High owl mascot he has stolen.)
Nineteen-seventy-two was a crazy time. Kids played football...drove cars. Went to school...celebrated life. While soldiers - heroes...their brothers, struggled to find their way home from war. And young boys watched, and grew their dreams.

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(Ep 95 - "Fishing")

Ever since there have been fathers and sons...there have been father-and-son traditions. Rituals that bond man to boy. And knit boy to man. In my family, there was one tradition that outranked all others in sheer gross ritual tonnage. The tri-annual Arnold three-day fishing trip. Every few years, Dad would round up the poles and boots and his old Army tent from the attic...and pack us off for a weekend at Berlinger Falls. Not that we had a choice in the matter. So, that fall of nineteen-seventy-two...we headed off for our first expedition since I was twelve. The funny thing is...of all the trips we ever's the one I remember most. Not because it was the best - or the worst...but was the last.

Berlinger Falls. Fresh air, trees...a suburban outdoorsman's Valhalla. Where men could kick back in the company of men - such as they were. It was a place where dads could be dads. And kids could be kids. Where fathers and sons could share things. Together. Three men in a tent.

(Wayne and Kevin have scuffled, and the tent burned down. Next morning, Jack is digging through the ashes of the tent.)
KEVIN: Need any help?
JACK: Nah...
I wasn't sure quite what to say. I wanted to make things right, but...I knew I couldn't.
KEVIN: Sorry about the tent.
JACK: It's OK...
But I knew he was lying. I knew Wayne and I had let him down. We'd gotten older. And the sad thing was nobody's fault.
JACK: Why'd we come on this stupid trip anyway? (Frowns.)
KEVIN: Well...(shrugs)...we planned it. (Smiles.) You got a day off, got us a day off, so...we came.'s only Saturday. Let's stay up here till tomorrow. (Smiles.)
JACK: Where are we gonna sleep?
Maybe the hardest part of growing up is having those you always counted on...look to you.
KEVIN: I don't know. (Smiles.) We'll think of somethin'.
JACK: Come on. We'll see what happens, OK?
After all...
KEVIN: OK. (Smiles.)
We'd come this far. No sense turning back, now. We fished the rest of that day. We didn't catch much. Dad said he'd like to move up here, and open a bait shop. I told him it was a great idea. I think he believed it. And in the end...I guess we finally figured out why we'd come here in the first place. We'd say goodbye.

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(Ep 96 - "Scenes From A Wedding")

It seems to me, a wedding means something different to everyone. To some, it's an occasion for simple pleasures. And for others, a wedding's implications are more profound. For's a time for comtemplation. For others, a time for regrets. A chance to measure just how far we've come in life...against the promise of those just starting out.

It was a testament to romance at its finest and most pure. It was a declaration of virtue. Simple, and gracious, and real. And after a day of infidelities...some proposed and planned, some more subtle...I felt for the first time...that someone believed in something a little different. In love. In commitment. In each other. It almost made me glad to be there. I guess you could say that weddings mean a lot of things to a lot of people. We might cry at the romance unfulfilled in our own lives. And shrink at the unseen compromises our lives have held for us. But weddings also bring out hope. And promise. And possibility. After all, as we choose our partners...some of us make our choices for life. And some of us dance with just one of many. And sometimes - for the lucky ones - we remember why we picked who we did. And after years of fighting over burnt toast...and bounced checks...we might, for a brief moment...look at each other as we once did - before kids, and mortgages and routine conspired against us. And others are content to postpone their choices...knowing somehow, that the future, like that Saturday afternoon, will tempt us with dances - both slow, and fast.

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(Ep 97 - "Sex and Economics")

Junior year was a time of...exploration. A time for expanding horizons, broadening perspectives, seeking answers to little-known questions. It was an opportunity to grapple with the great issues of our day, which as it happened, boiled down to only two. One was sex. Miss Farmer. Our social studies teacher. In one of the great cosmic ironies of our time...the board of education had hired her to mold and develop our formative young minds.

In a world where everyone was taking advantage of everybody and economics were facts of life. For all of us. I continued to see Miss Farmer every day, but, somehow, it wasn't the same after that. After all, in a way, she had done me a favor - taught me a lesson in "life". To wit, when it came to beautiful women and money, it would always end like this - some guy would get stuck on a ladder in November...and some guy would end up alone. All I know for sure is, it took me six weeks to finish painting that house. It cost me two-hundred-and-fourteen dollars of my own hard-earned money. And the next spring, Mr. Kaplan put up aluminum siding.

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(Ep 98 - "Politics As Usual")

Every four years, our country is gripped by a case of temporary insanity. We call it...the presidential election. It's democracy defined. A chance for politicians who know make promises they can't keep. And come's a chance for us to believe them.

I guess many hearts were broken across America that night. But only one I really cared about.
KEVIN: I'm sorry.
WINNIE: I guess...(frowns) must think I was pretty stupid, huh? (Nods.)
But somehow, it didn't seem important, anymore - who was right, who was wrong. All that really seemed to matter was...
KEVIN: You, uh...(shrugs)...want to go get a sandwich, or somethin'?
WINNIE: Thanks. (Smiles.)
After all, maybe in his own way, Mike was right. In politics, you live to fight another day. Sure, the 'sixties were gone, but sooner or later...there'd be other battles to fight. The thing is, that election forever changed the way my generation looked at politics. We discovered, no matter how painfully, that we could be part of the process. That we could believe. And even now, twenty years later, despite all the evidence to the contrary...
WINNIE: What a waste.
KEVIN: Nah...Wait'll next time. Then things'll be different.
I can remember that night. And still believe.

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(Ep 99 - "White Lies")

They say you can live a lifetime and never find love. So I guess I was lucky. Because true love crossed my path the first time I met the girl next door - Winnie Cooper. Winnie and I'd been together longer than any couple I knew. Still, history only goes so far. Kinda like Winnie. Unfortunately, the mathematics of the situation were open to interpretation. To me, they led forward, to that great unknown. But to Winnie, they led...back! See, the great thing about us was that we had this past together. The bad thing about us was that we had this past together. Not that I minded being part of Winnie's past. It's just, when it came to who I was...she seemed to regard me as a known quantity.

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, and I guess it's true. Because as I stood outside Winnie's house that night, I suddenly saw it all so clearly. I'd sold both of us short - by taking something most people never have, and throwing it away for something less. I'd been in such a rush to impress people who really didn't matter, I'd torn apart the only ones who did. Us.

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(Ep 100 - "Wayne and Bonnie")

My father worked at NORCOM over half his life. And eventually...he rose to the ranks of middle management. Where every day, was filled with crisis...challenges...and Rol-Aids. Yep...through the years my father had given a lot to NORCOM. And now...he had given them...Wayne. My brother had been employed in the mail-room for about six months. Don't ask me how. And if his work-ethic didn't exactly match Dad' least he was trying to find a niche for himself. Make new acquaintances. Bonnie Douglas. She was twenty-three, funny, smart, and, oh yeah - divorced. It was no wonder Wayne felt the way he did. Whatever Dad felt about all of this...he was keeping it to himself. Like all the Arnold men...he had a lot of things on his mind.

It was that simple. And it was that complex. Love can kill you. It can tear you apart. But if you're very can bring you back together. Sometimes love is unexpected...and unpredictable. And just have to go with your heart. And hope for the best.

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(Ep 101 - "Kevin Delivers")

For most kids I went to high school with, Tuesday and Friday nights meant homework, hanging out, dating - the usual agonies and ecstasies of teenage life. For me, those nights meant something else. My high school job. I was "Kevin Arnold - Chinese food delivery boy". Where you found harried waiters, agile cooks, Peking ducks, and of course...Mr. Chong. After four months on the job, we'd finally learned how to communicate.
MR: CHONG: ^(*&%%&$^(%(!!
He yelled...
KEVIN: Well, traffic was a little rough.
MR: CHONG: )&^&*_&*#$@%##!@#^!
KEVIN: Yessir. I'm sorry, sir.
MR: CHONG: #^*(&^*$&^#&^&*!
And I made up excuses.

Working for Mr. Chong certainly wasn't the best job I ever had. The hours were long...the money was poor, and employee-management relations left a lot to be desired. But in its way, each night held a promise - of riches. And adventure.

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(Ep 102 - "The Test")

One thing a kid learns growing up, is that a series of risks. It's a cause-and-effect relationship. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Still, with the proper guidance, we learn to deal with the risks. And pretty soon, we set out into the world...sure in our options, confident of our choices. Until, that is...eleventh-grade. The year of decisions. Around the middle of junior year...the risks increase. Almost overnight, the choices get harder. One guess why. The scholastic aptitude test. The living nightmare of American adolescents. Like some kind of biblical curse...the SAT's had descended on our class...reducing even the most-intelligent among us to a state of...flop-sweats. It was grim. After sixteen years of hard learning...our educational futures had suddenly been pinned down to four choices..."A", "B", "C"...and of course...
WOMAN: Pudding, or Jell-O?

That afternoon, Dad and I took the tour. We talked furniture. We talked life. We made plans. And the next morning, at 8:00 AM, seventy-eight students gathered in the McKinley cafeteria to take what was supposed to be the most important test of their lives. Everyone had a different way of coping that day. Some were more effective than others. But for all the risks and choices, I was one step ahead of them. After all, I knew that this was just one test in thousands I'd be taking in my life. None of them final, none of them irrevocable. And the way I saw it, maybe life was a risk. But this time, I was ready.

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(Ep 103 - "Let Nothing You Dismay")

December, nineteen-seventy-two, was a time of change for my family. A time of strange occurrences. Improbable events. And, a fews surprises. After a twenty-year sabbatical in the mother was graduating from State College. We were all pretty proud of her. As for my father...after a half a lifetime at NORCOM...he decided to invest in the future. Well, the future of furniture, anyway.

I guess some gifts are simple. They come from the heart...with a lifetime guarantee. And that afternoon...Christmas finally arrived. That Christmas Eve, I delivered egg rolls and pork lomein - for fifty cents more an hour. Then I turned right around and squandered the profits - on cashmere. Still, I think it was worth it. As for that big box, it turned out to be something much, much smaller.
KEVIN: The new Bread album. (Smiles.)
WINNIE: Do you like it?
KEVIN: Yeah, they're my favorite! (Smiles.)
I hated it. I loathed it. I despised it.
WINNIE: Merry Christmas, Kevin. (Smiles.)
KEVIN: Merry Christmas.
Then again, on the other hand...
(They kiss.)
That night we skipped the customary dinner at home. Seemed there was a more fitting place to gather. We stayed up late. We talked about old times, new times. We ate turkey and dressing...and egg rolls. After all, the way I saw it, that year, we had a lot to celebrate.

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(Ep 104 - "New Year")

Over the years, a family develops a kind of character. A sense of heritage. A feeling of roots. For my family, those roots extended all the way to the back of our garage. It was kind of our Plymouth Rock. The final week of nineteen-seventy-two. Where I lived, it was a time of change. Most particularly in the person new brother. Sure - maybe this looked like the same doofus I'd shared a room with for fifteen years...but in one way, he was different. Wayne was in love. And somehow...our garage was never gonna be the same again. Not that I begrudged the guy his good fortune. After all, he'd found the girl of his dreams. Bonnie Douglas. Twenty-three, divorced, and mother of one. But it wasn't what he'd done that was so was how he was doing it.

Nineteen seventy-two was a memory. Like it or not. The funny thing is...looking back now...what I remember most is how it ended.
WAYNE: So, gonna kiss her or not? Come on! You're only young once...
Hell - the guy was right. So maybe that New Year's eve, nineteen seventy-two...didn't work out exactly like any of us planned. There was heartbreak we didn't anticipate...and events we couldn't have imagined. Still, it wasn't all bad. There was a magician. So maybe there was a message in it all. The future was calling us. And no matter what...there was no turning back now.

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(Ep 105 - "Alice In Autoland")

Throughout time...there have been some pretty obnoxious couples. Couples who constantly bickered. Couples who had trouble communicating. But never, in the history of men and women...had there been a couple more horrifying, more terrifying, than...Alice Pedermeir...and Chuck Coleman. In the three months they'd been dating...they'd broken up twenty-seven times. A class record. Make that twenty-eight times. And in situations like these, there was one cardinal rule. Never, never, get in the middle of someone else's relationship. It was a tried-and-true theory. Leave well enough alone, and things would work out.

I never did get that car. I got my old one back from "Pistol Pete". But I guess I did learn a few things from this mess. When it comes to couples, mind your own business. When it comes to women, you'll never understand them. And, when it comes to cars...always bring a wrench.

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(Ep 106 - "Ladies and Gentlemen...The Rolling Stones")

Teen logic. At sixteen, it was a tool we used with abandon. And this logic came in all shapes and sizes. We used it to help us through life's tough moments. It helped explain our behavioral oddities. But never was out logic more useful, then when it lent creedence to a really hot rumor. It was a dull week in the winter of 'seventy-three. So the rumor had spread like wildfire.
CHUCK: I'm tellin' ya...Friday night, the Stones are gonna be at a place called "Joe's", out on Highway 9!
KEVIN: Right...(Nods.)
By junior year, I'd been down the old too many times.
KEVIN: There's no way...Paul? Tell 'em.
PAUL: It's a zillion-to-one. It's not gonna happen!
KEVIN: I rest my case. (Gestures.)
Maybe I was a little tough on the guy...but it was so clear to anyone with even a semblance of intelligence.
JEFF: Hey, you guys hear about the Stones?
Unfortunately...a semblance of intelligence was in short supply.

And that's when I realized...there's all kinds of logic in this world. And a lot of it doesn't make any sense. That night, moved by the forces of teen logic, I'd stolen my dad's car...had a run-in with the police...a fight with my friends...and an accident. All in was a great evening. Even if there were no Rolling Stones.

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(Ep 107 - "Unpacking")

By the middle of junior year, life at my school was becoming...routine. The teachers, the kids, the classes...they were all pretty much predictable. Most of them, anyway. Jeff Billings, the new kid in school. When it came to unpredictable - this guy had the lock. In the short time I'd known the kid, I'd learned this about him - he had brains, a sense of humor...He had...attitude. Yep, in a way, the guy had it all. Including a girlfriend I'd never met. Julie McDermott, the legendary goddess from another town.

So...we went home. That day, I thought about a lot of things, like hometowns, like family - the shortcomings, the flaws, the arguments. Still, in the world of inconsistency and doubt...maybe home is what you make it. Like I said, most suburbs were about the same. Sure, some may have been a little bigger, and some may be have been a little greener...there was only one real difference. Only one of them...was yours.

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(Ep 108 - "Hulk Arnold")

At some point in your teenage years, if you're lucky, you make a discovery. You find out you're actually good at something. It's that critical juncture, where talent becomes...expertise - kinda. It's your chance to star. Or...end up flat on your face. Around the middle of my junior year, I found out something about myself. For some strange reason - don't ask me how, don't ask me why - I was good at wrestling. Not to brag, or anything. Course, I didn't mind gloating a little. Face it. Some guys had it, some guys didn't. And some guys...were lazy. The way I saw it, having a weird natural ability was one thing, but getting serious about it was another.

No matter how many points this guy racked up...I wasn't gonna let him pin me. That night - maybe for the first time...I committed myself to something. I left the excuses, I dumped the alibi's - I went for broke. I was a wrestler. And I gave it everything I had. Sure, maybe the score may have been lop-sided...and maybe a kid named Gurney got the win. But for me - it was a victory.

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(Ep 109 - "Nose")

In high school, appearances are everything. The way you look. The way you wish you didn't look. Nobody is satisfied. Which is maybe why...throughout the halls and classrooms...we hear the one universal cry.
RICKY: What's wrong with me?
Ricky Holsenbach. When it came to inferiority complexes, he had them all.

And as Hayley set off hand-in-hand with her new question naturally came to mind.
RICKY: What's he got that I don't?
And of course, there was only one answer. He had her. That night was almost like a fairy tale. A night filled with magic...and love...and princesses. And pumpkins. Maybe it was fitting. In a land of insecurity, where curly-haired kids wanted straight hair, and heavy kids wanted to lose weight...and skinny ones wanted to gain it, and everybody wanted to be somebody else...the one true beauty...was the girl who simply knew herself. And was happy...with what she knew.

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(Ep 110 - "Eclipse")

On the afternoon of March 21, 1973, at exactly 2.15 PM, a rare astronomical event occurred - a total eclipse of the sun. As the sun, the moon and the earth began to move in did we. A field trip. It was a chance to bring education to the unwashed masses of the junior class. Like Harlan Abramson, McKinley's living monument to polyunsaturated fats. Or Mary Jo Genaro. Senior year, she became the first girl at McKinley to take her parole officer to the prom. Louis Lanahan. When mankind discovered fire, they had not quite counted on Louis. And so, in a cloud of smoke and a mighty Hi-ho, Silver!...we were on the way to the Nierman planetarium. Thirty-four students and one teacher on the road to higher education - such as it was. All in all it was the lead opportunity to exchange ideals outside the confines of the classroom. To expand the boundaries of higher education. To go where no man had gone before.

I guess you can say that the laws of nature aren't always predictable. Still, when it came to matters of cause and effect...I think we managed to learn a thing or two. Perhaps that day, despite all the chaos, there really were cosmic forces at work. Forces so powerful, so profound, they defied all our attempts of rational explanation. I mean, hey, it had taken only five-thousand years to understand the moon...sSo, maybe, we were making progress. Then again, when it came down to it, may be, we learned enough for one day.

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(Ep 112 - "The Little Women")

By the spring of nineteen-seventy-three the women's liberation movement was in full force. Across America, a revolution was in progress, shedding old stereotypes...building new roles. It was a time of raised-conscienciousness and high expectations...a fight for equality and freedom. Women everywhere were facing difficult and complex choices. Take my mother for example. She was a woman of her time. A woman of accomplishments. A woman who was appreciated. Yep, you might say in everything she did, Mom commanded our utmost respect. And whether it was pouring our coffee, buttering our toast, or simply washing our socks...we Arnold men supported her, encouraged her...right up until that day, when...
NORMA: I've decided to get a job.

The next hour saw one of the greatest bowling displays of that, or any other, season. Not by the Arnold women - by the Arnold men! We had it all, Dad and I - and we weren't afraid to use it. For the next thirty frames we took off the gloves. We showed no mercy. We slaughtered 'em. And when it was over...I think they were impressed. I know we were. That night, driving home, things seemed...right again. I guess the natural order had been restored. So, we could afford to be magnanimous. I mean, no sense being pigheaded. The way I saw it - the world was big enough for all of us. And besides, so what if women could influence government, take over big business, alter domestic policy, dominate education, make the world a better place. In one important respect, we had still a lot to teach them. Yep, when it came to being jerks, they still had a lot to learn.

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(Ep 113 - "Reunion")

In the spring of nineteen seventy-three, the Arnold family took to the skies. Armed with four coach tickets and enough luggage to sink a battleship...we were on our way to a weekend of high-adventure. That year had seen a lot of change. I was practically a senior - once I got through exams. Mom had joined the ranks of working women - whether we liked it or not. Dad's furniture business was thriving - although he wasn't at the moment. Still all in all, things were pretty much...smooth sailing. Not that we ventured into the friendly skies without a reason. We were on our way home. Well, Mom's home, anyway.
NORMA: Look, Jack! (Smiles.) Sylvia Miller's chairing the reunion committee. (Smiles.) I haven't seen her in twenty five years! (Smiles.)
You got it - my mother's high school reunion. Yeah, it was gonna be...some fun...After all, this was more than just a trip back in time. We were headed home to family. Mom's family. For better...or worse.

And I guess right about then...a few things started to fall into place. Maybe a lot of things. After all, maybe there are some things in life that just can't be changed - a child's hopes. A parent's dreams. And maybe, when it comes to families...that's all for the best. Like they say...growing up isn't easy. No matter how old you are. It's all a matter of time, and luck. And if you're very lucky...maybe love. All I knew was, that that old house...I felt part of something lasting. Family. For better...or worse.

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(Ep 114/115 - "Summer/Independence Day")

I guess things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn't with me. Still, like my dad used to say - traffic's traffic. You go where life takes you. I remember a time, a place, a particular 4th of July. The things I saw in that decade of war and change. I remember how it was, growing up. Among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how it leave.

Nineteen-seventy-three was time of restless energy. The first generation to grow up on "Sgt. Pepper" was heading out into the world. Searching for truth. Looking to find themselves. Having a blast. Me? That July, I was working in my dad's furniture factory - sanding the edges off about 500,000 pieces of wood a day. In what has to rate as the dumbest career move in history, I'd traded my job at Chong's Chinese for a future in sawdust. The worst part was, for some inexplicably reason, everything my father did...irritated the heck out of me. And vice-versa. Face it. Nothing was going right - my job, my future, my family...Not to mention the last night I'd spent with my girl.


Once upon a time, there was a girl I knew, who lived across the street. Brown hair, brown eyes. When she smiled, I smiled. When she cried, I cried. Every single thing that ever happened to me that mattered, in some way, had to do with her. That day Winnie and I promised each other that no matter what, that we'd always be together. It was a promise full of passion, and truth, and wisdom. It was the kind of promise that can only come from the hearts of the very young.

The next day Winnie and I came home. Back to where we'd started. It was the 4th of July in that little suburban town. Somehow though, things were different. Our past was here, but our future was somewhere else. And we both knew, sooner or later, we had to go. It was the last July I ever spent in that town. The next year, after graduation, I was on my way. So was Paul. He went to Harvard - of course. Studied law. He's still allergic to everything. As for my father, well...we patched things up. Hey, we were family. For better or worse. One for all and all for one. Karen's son was born that September. I gotta say, I think he looks like me - poor kid. Mom, she did well - business woman, board chairman, grandmother...cooker of mashed potatoes. Wayne stayed on in furniture. Wood seemed to suit him. In fact he took over the factory two years later, when Dad past away. Winnie left the next summer to study art history in Paris. Still we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other once a week for the next eight years. I was there to meet her, when she came home, with my wife and my first son, eight months old.

Like I said, things never turn out exactly the way you planned. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers - next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place...a town...a house like a lot of other houses...a yard like a lot of other yards...on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is...after all these years, I still look back...with wonder.

YOUNG BOY: Hey Dad? Wanna play catch?
I'll be right there.

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12/08/00 23:22