With fear in my heart …
I grew up in a little cottage on Groton Street in Providence, RI, behind 34-36 Dexter Street, my grandfather’s house.
For the fifth and sixth grades I attended The Messer Street School.
At the end of every school day during my fifth grade year I walked up Chapin Avenue to the corner of Parade Street, at which time I would go diagonally across Dexter Training Grounds to my home.
I became the target of four young boys from Hoyle Square, who were looking for someone to beat up. As they approached me I would take off like a scared rabbit, running to beat the band across the training grounds, getting to my house before they got to me.
This daily ritual went on for about two weeks when, one day, as I approached them one of them spoke aloud to me, saying, “Hey, kid, you run pretty good. We don’t want to hurt you. We want to race you.”
Reluctantly, I agreed, and the five of us would line up and run diagonally across the training grounds.
I was beating them quite easily and could tell they were very unhappy about this. I then suggested that I give them head starts, which they agreed to. The slower ones got longer head starts then the faster ones, and I continued to outrace all of them.
I was astute enough to realize that this was not going to last very much longer so I began going home up Messer Street and down Oak Street, across the park to my house.
I never saw them again; must have tired them out.
I later learned that one of them was a youth named Lummer Jennings.
Lummer went on to Hope High School and had a tremendous career in high school track, becoming an All-Stater in the late 50’s.
He attended URI, ran for their track team and was an All-Yankee Conference runner during his career there.
Maybe I had a little something to do with him becoming the great runner he was.