The Paper at My Feet

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I remember sitting in kindergarten class at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in 1983.

Ms. Frazier had a pretty smile and was very helpful. But I could not sit still. I could not focus nor did anything I was reading interest me, except Ms. Frazier and my coloring book. I drew a lot, mostly doodles, a lot of drawings but I was never focused on my actual homework. Eventually it was decided to hold me back a grade.

So, I repeated kindergarten. My second time in kindergarten was a little different. The teacher this time was Mrs. Richards. Her son was also in the classroom, but so was Marissa Z., and I couldn’t get my mind off of her. She couldn’t get her mind off of me.

My cousin Dennis was in the 8th grade at the time and he had a girlfriend named Susan. Susan used to love to come over and pick me up in the playground and play with me. It drove Marissa crazy, and I remember loving it.

All through my years at OLPH, I remember never being able to focus on much other than drawing, writing, reading, art and girls.

But one thing for sure that I was always interested in was the morning paper arriving outside in front of the garage. On Sundays it was the Press-Telegram or the Los Angeles Times.

I graduated from OLPH in 1992 and went on to St. John Bosco, where much of the lack of interest in school continued. Eventually I found myself in the public school system at Downey High School.

My interests became different at Downey High mostly because there was a lot more to do. I loved my typewriting class, the wood-working class and the architecture class, and there were a lot of girls. But every Friday what I looked forward to the most was the Downey Eagle.

In 1993, the Downey Eagle started showing up at our door. The Downey Eagle was the newspaper that my dad and I enjoyed the most. It featured stories from the local community, high school sports and advertising.

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My brother and sister enjoyed the Los Angeles Times. My brother was really into sports and my sister into the entertainment section. But my dad and I really looked forward to the Eagle. It’s too bad that my grades couldn’t have been based on the articles of the Downey Eagle.

The Eagle continued to be published from 1993 until 2002. I graduated high school in 1996 and went on to miscellaneous adventures, but never really had a love for the papers that would arrive at our door.

The computer soon became the interest of the home, with random articles, dating sites, MySpace, and the occasional news pop-up or video games like Lemmings or DOOM.

Then one Friday morning in 2002, right before heading to my job, a shady-looking van turned the corner at Dolan Street and zoomed past my parents' house with the passenger window rolled down and a woman in the passenger seat. An arm slingshot out of the window and an object landed right at my feet. I picked it up and removed the rubber band and opened it up. My eyes opened with excitement.

It was the Downey Patriot!

My life once again was complete.

Michael Chirco is a Downey resident, community volunteer, and owner of the South Downey Facebook page.

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