Originally created 04/21/01

Even then, Baab would rather have been fishing



Editor's note: Bill Baab, longtime outdoor editor of The Augusta Chronicle, learned lessons in life both profound and fun during his days under the tutelage of the Marist brothers at Boys Catholic High School. Here are some of his memories:

I was graduated from Boys Catholic High School in the Class of 1953, one of four Protestants in a class of 24.

My fondest memories of my experiences as a student include participating in the school's Minstrels, held at Bell Auditorium next door to the school at Seventh and Telfair streets. The Minstrels were produced and directed by Brother Linus, who was more popularly known to his Marist colleagues as "Brother Tim."

I dressed up as "Wild Bill Hiccup" and (with the late Doug Harris) pantomimed the Spike Jones record popular at the time. Doug played "Gopher Annie, the cowgirl Bill adored."

Later during the show, I dressed as a woman with an old-fashioned bustle. I don't remember the name of the student who was beneath the bustle, but he was one of the smallest in the school. He stopped as I walked across the stage, then came to me as I beckoned and both of us walked off the stage.

I was among the school's tallest students at 6-foot-4 but didn't like basketball, much to the dismay of the coaches, including the late Denny Leonard. I was called "Snake" because of my fondness for collecting the reptiles. "Snake, why don't you come out for basketball?" coach Leonard asked. "I'd rather go fishing," I replied, and I feel the same way today.

I credit Brother Linus with helping bring me out of my shell. I was never outgoing before the Minstrels, but my sudden exposure resulted in culture shock. Both Doug and I heard later that some Las Vegas showman had seen our "act" and was going to offer us a contract, but nothing ever came of it.

Other memories include stints as an usher at Spike Jones and Boston Pops Orchestra concerts (Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler was a friend of Brother Linus) and the Ice Capades, all at Bell Auditorium from 1951 through '53.

Discipline was strict and "hands-on" at the school. Mouth off at a brother and the quick result was a hard slap across the face. After I witnessed a few of those applied to other faces, I became a good boy and was never touched.

One of my good friends back then, and one of the brightest students in my class, was Joe Pinnell. He used to bring explosive "torpedoes" to the school during the summer when our second floor classroom windows were open. (There was no air conditioning back then.) There was a brick walkway below the window next to Joe. When Brother wasn't looking, Joe would toss a torpedo out the window and after the chaos caused by the explosion had somewhat settled, Joe always wore an innocent look. As far as I know, he was never caught.