July 15 – Do you remember the Amsterdam Firestone Store?

48216516-Firestone-Foreign-Owned-America-CNBCNo nominations for July 15 Amsterdam birthdays so instead, I did a search for a July 15 edition of the the old Amsterdam Evening Recorder and the first hit took me to a page from the July 15, 1971 edition. It included a large ad for the Amsterdam Firestone tire store that was at one time located at 16 Division Street, just east of the old YMCA building, which still stands. That brought back a memory from my own Amsterdam High School days that friends of my personal Facebook page found amusing so I thought you might as well.

In 1971, I was a junior at Lynch High and found myself completely unprepared for a “sociology” exam scheduled for later that morning. So I made a plan with one of my friends to knock on the door of that classroom just after the beginning bell rang and hand the teacher a note requesting that my mandatory presence be requested at that instant. In hind sight, what I should have also done was provide my friend with the specific  “reason” for my presence being requested elsewhere. My suggestions could have included; “His mother is in the hospital,” or “the principal (Mr. Palczak at the time) wants to see him immediately.”

The plan started off working perfectly. I went to the class, sat at my desk and the teacher, a guy named Bill Johnson began handing out the exam as the bell rang. Within seconds, my reliable pal bang-bang-bang’s on the door and when Mr. Johnson opens it, in comes my buddy”s hand grasping a piece of paper. Mr. Johnson takes it, my buddy scrams. Mr Johnson opens it and reads it out loud. “Mike Cinquanti, your tires are in at Firestone.”

Talk about a curve ball being thrown at you. I had not studied a single second for this exam and after scanning the first two or three questions of the test paper in front of me, I knew there was no way I was going to come close to even a C grade on it. So I did what I had to do. Before Mr. Johnson could grasp the utter non-importantance of the message he had just read, I grabbed my books, stood up and said “I gotta go!” and walked out of the classroom and ran down the stairs.

I was able to avoid Mr. Johnson for the rest of the day and over the next couple of nights I finally studied for the test so that the next time I walked into his class I was ready to take a make-up. But when I approached his desk to request that opportunity he was very agitated and said something like; “You can’t fool me. You just wanted to get out of taking the exam. Your tires weren’t in at Firestone!”

I couldn’t believe my ears or my luck. He was not questioning the idiotic request my now “unreliable” buddy had pulled out of the air. He was telling me that it would have been an OK reason to leave his room and miss the test if I in fact did get new tires. So I did the only thing I could. I insisted I had rushed down there and got the tires.” That’s when he asked me to prove it. So now, as my mind is racing, thinking of ways I can get my hands on a blank receipt from that Division Street business, Mr.Johnson surprises me again. He says, “After class I want you to show me the tires.” I did the only thing I could do at that point and said “OK I will!”

When the class ended he and I went out the back door and as we’re walking through the old Lynch School parking lot, I’m looking at the tires of each car we pass and as soon as I see one that looks new and has a Firestone logo on it, I stop and say here they are. Mr. Johnson, who luckily was the sort of guy who paid absolutely no attention to car parts saw the shininess of the tire and its deep tread and said “OK. You can make up the test.”

At the time, I didn’t even own a car!

(Note to readers: I am not proud of my youthful indiscretions and would not recommend any students in today’s generation attempt a similar stunt, especially since Amsterdam no longer has a Firestone store (:  )

(I wrote this post about an old friend on July 15th last year.)


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