Saw a Facebook post today about kids’ ceasing to believe in the reality of Santa Clause.
My family moved to Circle Avenue in Paterson when I was 9-going-on-ten. The dominant male kid there was “Mondo” – MON-DO!!! He was spoiled by his mother, who would announce publicly every now and then that, “My kid is tough, and he will kick your kid’s aay-yess [‘ass’ pronounced with two syllables]!”
Mondo was tough, and he bossed, bullied, smacked around, and terrorized the other kids in his age group, including me. When I first met him, he wore a Sluggo cap to cover his bald head, which had been shaved because he had contracted ringworm at school. He warned his “friends” that he would kill them if they mentioned his baldness or his ringworm. He was fearsome.
Anyway, when he somehow found out (no doubt from me) that I still believed in Santa Clause, he mocked and shamed me mercilessly and exclaimed regularly on the street, “Hey, Georgie Porgie! THERE AIN’T NO SANTA CLAUSE!”
Under that onslaught, I gradually began to doubt, and eventually I began to admit (at least to myself) that probably (acknowledging only an inductive inference) Santa Clause did not exist.
I was ten when I finally gave up.
Over time, Mondo and I grew apart. He grew bigger and stronger, and I remained puny and weak. He became one of the “big guys,” while I continued to associate with more innocent boys, including Cub and Boy Scouts. It was a rough part of Paterson. The school was “Foursies” (the Dread). I and my friends were frequently on the losing end of encounters with tougher kids. Mondo actually became our protector, intervening on our behalf in the School 4 playground to drive off our oppressors with his usual ferocity.
He went to Paterson Tech for high school. Then I think he went into the Navy for 3 or 4 years. Then…? I do know that he eventually became a biker, rolling his “hog” down highways with his brothers. Last I knew (20 yrs ago), he was living in Haskell, NJ.