Glory Daze

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Story of my past.

Submitted: November 30, 2014

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Submitted: November 30, 2014

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Glory Days

I would never forget the good years of my childhood. My home was like something derived from a military boot camp. Most kids enjoyed their youth, but I was a general in training. I was brought up in a household where there were many rules that were strictly enforced. My parents were strict on education, especially my father. My father was so strict on education that while other children received toys and games for birthdays and holidays, I would receive school supplies or a book.

My parents were poor. Picture two young black immigrants from Haiti, living in the Unites States in the mid-80s, trying to provide for three children. I have an older brother and an older sister, and being the youngest of three children had its benefits. I had the benefit of learning from my older siblings because my mother would make them teach me whatever they learned in school. There is five year difference between my sister and me, and a two year difference between my brother and me. While other children were learning to spell their names, I was doing multiplication. By the time I got to the fifth grade, my teacher would use me to help teach the other kids in my class to read, write, and do math. In fifth grade, I was put in what they called an “opportunity class.” My grades were exceptional, but I had an issue with authority figures, so I had to be separated from the regular students.

Since I excelled in school, I was quite popular. I was one of the cool kids, but I lived in a home that some might consider to be a shotgun house. There were so many cracks, holes, and leaks in the house that one would assume that someone took a shotgun and shot at random parts of the house for no reason. The roof leaked so much that we had to put a large piece of mattress foam on the floor to absorb the water when it fell because the buckets we had were too small to hold the water when it rained. If a school bus passed, while my brother and I were outside, we would run, hide, duck, and dodge to avoid letting the other children know we lived in that shack. I had a reputation to uphold.

My father bought some desks for my siblings and me to be able to study and do our homework. My desk would sit in the corner of the living room and the rules were written in stone. After I was home from school, there would be no television, no toys, no playing outside, no playing inside, no talking, only books. My father worked the graveyard shift as a cab driver, so he would come home and sleep all day until it was time to get up and go back to work again. We couldn’t make any noise because my father was always sleeping, so I would be either in my room reading magazines and comic books or sitting in my desk doing my homework. I had a collection of comic books, but I enjoyed looking at one magazine in particular, the “Eastbay.”

 The Eastbay was a magazine full of all the brand new shoes and clothes, including Nike, Jordan, Adidas, FILA, Reebok, and all the latest sportswear. In those days, it was my entertainment was to imagine all the things I wanted. After I have completed my homework and taken my bath, I would go sit in my desk in the corner and gaze through the Eastbay, looking at everything that I was determined to have. I used to say to myself all the time, “I can’t wait until I grow up; I am going to buy this, this, this, this, and ….” I would ask my mother for the brand new Nike Air Jordan but she would reply, “kite m' pou kont-ti gason” which means, “leave me alone little boy” in Haitian Creole. My parents were very poor and asking her for $180 pair of shoes was like a mosquito continuously buzzing around her ear. I'm sure it was very annoying.  “Ale fè devwa ou oubyen li lekti nan yon liv,” which means “go and do your homework or read a book,” which was her way of brushing me off. She knew I didn’t want to hear that.

Even though we lived in poor conditions at the time, I didn’t care. I was always fixated on getting the latest pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers with a matching pair of socks and T-shirt. I would ask my mom, “Mommy, can you get me these shoes?” I would show her the Eastbay magazine, pointing at the Air Jordan number 12, the newest edition. Nike released the first version which was all white and black with hand-stitched leather. During those days, people were getting severely beaten, and in some cases, even killed for those shoes. I had to have them and I wasn’t thinking about whether or not my mother had money to feed my siblings and me, or whether or not she and my father would be able to keep a roof over our heads. I didn’t stop to consider the sacrifices that would had have to be made in order for me to receive those $180 pair of sneakers. I wouldn’t dare ask my father, and my mother wouldn’t pay me any mind. I wouldn’t give up thought. I was very persistent. Every time Nike released a new color of the Air Jordan #12, I would torment my mother even more, and she would brush me off every time.

Something extraordinary happened. Nike released the black and white version of the Air Jordan #12. It featured gold plated steel lace loops, with an imprinted lizard skin design. It was a model that paved the way for innovative styles in shoe designs. I saw those shoes and became obsessed. There was nothing on planet earth that was going to stop me from getting those shoes on my feet. It was the year 1995, and it was my last year in elementary school. I was on my way to junior high and I had to make my mark when I got there. This time around, I would not let up on my mother. I begged her for those Air Jordan #12 until she gave in and we finally reached an agreement. She knew it was my last year in elementary school so she used my academics as bargaining chips. My elementary school would hold a graduation ceremony for the fifth grade class to celebrate the students’ transition into junior high. My mother told me, “If you bring me one trophy from your graduation, I will buy you those shoes.” To me, that wasn’t even a challenge but I told her, “I accept your challenge.”

I knew I was doing well because my teacher used me to help the other students in my class. My teacher, Mr. Woods, would assign me to the students that needed assistance because there were many students in my class and he couldn’t assist all of them. He had an assistant, but even her abilities were limited due to the overcrowded class rooms in public schools. Also, this was an “opportunity class,” and each student required special attention. That is where I came in. My days of going home and reading books instead of watching television were finally paying off. I didn’t really see myself as advanced, but I just thought that I understood the material being taught fairly well, and I was happy to assist my fellow classmates.

Weeks went by and I would get a bit more involved with my school. I joined the math club because at that time, I enjoyed doing math. I entered a Miami Youth Fair art contest and won first place for a drawing I submitted. Keep in mind, not only did I collect magazines, but I also collected comic books and comic cards. In my spare time, I would try to duplicate the cartoons that were drawn in the comics. I practiced so much at it that I became a good artist. I loved to draw and create my own comics. I got so good that my teacher and some administrators asked me to draw a picture of our school mascot, a bulldog, so that they can paint it in the main hallway of the elementary school. I didn’t think much of what was happening in my life, I simply made the best out of what was available to me and did the things I loved to do. All I had was my little desk, my comic books, my magazines, my comic cards, and my youthful imagination. I imagined the day when those black and white Air Jordan #12 would finally be on my feet.

 Months went by and I excelled in everything I did during the school year. I wasn’t even trying to work hard, I just thought I was doing what I was assigned to do. Apparently, my teachers thought otherwise. The end of the school year was approaching and it was time for me to get ready for my fifth grade graduation. My mom took me shopping for new dress clothes, new dress shoes, cologne, and other things. She asked me what I wanted to wear, I told her “all white.” I don’t know what got into me, but I told her I wanted white shoes, a white shirt, a white suit, white socks, and a white tie. Months went by, and I forgot about our little wager until it was graduation time. I said, “Mommy you remember you told me you would buy me the black and white Air Jordan if I got one trophy right?” My mom replied, “Give me my trophy and it is yours.”

I had to be at my graduation later on that day and my mother chose to do all the shopping at the last minute. The hour was approaching for me to walk across that stage and I wasn’t even ready yet.  We were still at the shopping center located miles away from my school and home. My mother didn’t have a car, so we either had to rely on public transportation or catch a cab. That day, my mother flagged down a taxi cab and told him, “I need you to get me to this location fast!” She gave him our home address and told him to step on the gas. By the time we got home, I was already running late for my graduation ceremony so I had to take a quick shower and quickly get dressed.

By the time we arrived to my graduation, the ceremony had already started. The first thing I noticed when I approached my classmates was that all of the other boys wore black pants, white shirt, and black ties. All the girls wore white dresses. Awkwardly, I was the only boy wearing an all-white suit but I didn’t expect that. I was just using the imagination my parents forced me to unlock. Some of the other kids looked at me like I was crazy but I didn’t care. I knew I was “fresh to death,” meaning sharply dressed.

The time came for my teacher to present the graduation certificates to his students. I stood there on the stage waiting for my name to be called and I was relaxed. I expected to get my certificate and get off the stage.  My teacher announced that he had some awards and trophies to give out to the students that excelled throughout the school year. The only thing that ran through my head was, “I hope he hurries up and gives them to whomever they belong to, so I could go to McDonalds after we leave here,” but I was shocked at what happened next.

Mr. Woods announced that he would be presenting an award to various students for various subjects of our academic studies including math, science, reading and writing, arts and craft, etc… He proceeded to present the awards. “For exceptional performance in Reading and Writing, Scheinderley Dupuy!” I was shocked when I heard my name being called, but I slowly walked across the stage as the audience applauded. I accepted my trophy and walked back to my position on the stage. Again, I stood there waiting for the next award to be presented. This time I was curious to see who was going to win the next award. I stood there and listened as Mr. Wood presented the next award. “For excellence in Mathematics, Scheinderley Dupuy!” I stood there shocked as I heard my name being called for the second time for another award. As I walked across the stage, I could hear the crowd applauding louder than they did when I got my first award. I just walked to Mr. Wood to accept my award as I did the first time, then I walked back to my position on the stage again. At this point, I was no longer shocked, but I was filled with happiness and joy. I stood there again, waiting for Mr. Wood to present the next award. “For Arts and Craft, Scheinderley Dupuy!” He yelled louder as the crowd stood to their feet letting out a roar of applauds. By this time, I was not only happy but I was ecstatic. This time, I slowly strolled across the stage waving to the crowd as they clapped louder, and fill the room with even more intensity.

I guess the all-white suite was appropriate after all. “I did it!” I thought to myself. “My mom asked me for one trophy and I gave her three. I better get my Air Jordan sneakers!” Indeed, the next day, my sneakers were sitting on my bed when I woke up. My mother bought the shoes before I even received the trophies because she had faith in me. I will not ever forget the day I learned that no matter the circumstances, if I want something bad enough, there shouldn’t be anything on planet earth with the ability to stop me from getting what I want.

Eli Dupuy 7/1/14


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