Needless to say, moving away from Niantic was very difficult. Not only were we going to a place I knew nothing about (even though it was only a few miles from Morristown where my grandparents lived), but it would be a new chapter without a father in the house. I also dreaded making new friends. Nobody would match the friends I had in Niantic. Randolph almost started as tragic as Niantic ended. As I mention in chapter 2 (Niantic Years), I came a couple of days earlier than my mom, sisters, and brother. I came with the moving truck which was driven by my fathers’ closest friend from Niantic Mr. Don Hadaway. Don was affected the most outside of the family by my fathers death as they were close friends. The other man in the cab was Mr. Johns and I was in the middle. The ride to Randolph was smooth. We got to our new house where we were met by my grandfather (Pop-Pop) and a good friend of my mother Ann Gantert and her son Doug. Ann grew up with my mom in Morristown and came to see us. As the men worked I remember helping some and hanging with Doug who was my age. As the men were about to leave and head back to Connecticut, Doug turned to me and asked if I wanted to stay with them for a few days and wait for my mom and siblings to arrive. I asked my grandfather and he said no he thought I should go back. Disappointed, I got in the truck and as we were about to back out – he held up his hand for the truck to stop. Apparently he saw the disappointment in my eyes and if you know my grandfather (more about him in later chapter) he hated to disappoint us. He changed his mind but told me I could stay only if I could contact my mom and ask her. Doug quickly pointed out the house next door had a “red hand” in the window which designated the home as a “helping hand” home. I knocked on the door and introduced myself and asked if I could call my mom in Connecticut which they allowed (remember no cell phones back then). Well, my Mom said yes and that answer prevented a possible tragedy. That night on the way back the truck got into a serious accident as it went under a low bridge that ripped the top of the truck nearly off. Both Mr. Hadaway and Johns got hurt but survived. I was told that if I was in the truck I may have gotten badly hurt or killed as the force of the accident probably would have thrown me through the windshield as we didn’t wear seatbelts in those days. I want to think my father was looking out for me from heaven and didn’t want my Mom to go through another tragedy so soon. It would not be the last time I escaped a tragedy as we will learn later in this chapter. Apparently, God was looking out for me and had plans for me in my later years as we will learn in the “Jesus Years” chapter.
Life in Randolph Begins
I don’t remember much about the beginning but I do know the adjustment was difficult. We lived in another development that had plenty of kids around my age, mostly boys again. The neighborhood was split between 3 groups of kids that I remember but at first, I mostly hung out with Doug in Mendham and his friends. Doug lived with his brother, a step-father that was abusive and a Mom that let them do whatever they wanted. Doug was a drummer and we would hang out listening to rock music and pretending to emulate rock bands. We even tried to start our own band called “Crystal Farm” but never did much with our rock and roll aspirations. I was lead singer so I guess that was probably why we never made it big. Doug introduced me to his friends which were made up of 2 girls which I ended up dating (whatever you can call dating at age of 13-14) – Cheryl Bell and a blonde girl whose name I can’t remember. Doug’s friends were a bit wild like him, free to do whatever they wanted, mostly rich kids whose parents let them run wild. I’m surprised I stayed out of trouble but besides your normal teen mischief no big stories to write about. Doug’s step-father was mean and was abusive to Doug, his brother, and Mom. They ended up moving out and at one time hide from his step-father at our house when he threatened to kill everyone. Our friendship ended soon after that when we were down the shore. My mom invited Doug and his Mom to join us. Doug brought a friend who I ended up getting into a fistfight with over a girl. My Mom kicked them all out and that was the last time I ever saw them.
New Friends and Adventure
My days of going to Mendham were over and I started hanging out with the kids in my neighborhood. At first, I hung out with a group of kids from one part of the neighborhood but after a couple of altercations with a couple of kids, I found new friends on the other side of the neighborhood who would remain my friends for the next few years: Greg & Gary Mezzacapo, Tim Oloia, Mark Vellosi, Terry and Ryan Straub were my main friends. Life began to resemble my Niantic days of playing sports, sleeping outside hanging out in each other’s homes. Greg was the best athlete and everyone wanted to be on his team all the time. Besides just playing sports among ourselves we would often challenge kids in the upper part of our neighborhood to football or baseball games which were always fun. Our sleep outs were always fun as we would walk around our neighborhood late at night and jump into neighborhood pools, usually with no clothes on. That all ended when a father who heard us came running out of the house. We all went running and I collided with Gary and he fell on the street naked and got caught, so our skinny dipping days were over. We often would sleep under the stars in backyards. Onetime it started to rain so one kid