St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Wednesday, January 3, 1964, the last semester at St. Nick's. Everything
had a connotation of finality. Jim had played his last football game, this was the last
semester, and soon 160 guys would go separate ways on their journey though life. He
didn’t want it to end. The friends he had and the fun he had experienced was now
fleeting. When Jim began St. Nick's in September of 1960, he realized after the first
semester that the chubby boy didn’t continue with him on the voyage to manhood. There
was a Y in the road, and Jim saw the chubby boy for a while as they walked down the path
of life in parallel. Soon time creates distance, and distance prohibits vision to focus. The
object is there, but out of focus. Because it can't be seem, it therefore no longer exists.
Jim noticed familiar objects at school now starting to become out of focus. February
through May would be a blur, because the focus was on June 14,1964, Graduation day.
Jim’s friends were rushing to 6/14 while he wanted to stay in November of 63, and enjoy
the glory of the football championship forever. March would be the last baseball season.
There were only 16 baseball game left in Jim's final days at St. Nick's. The only reassuring
thought was that he would always have Lupe in his future. The student body was there,
but the mind knew that soon they would vanish. His mind was conditioning him for the
final day 6/14. Everything now had a different perspective, each day had value as a
memory, and each experience was categorized in a special file in his memory to be
recalled in the future. Nothing was taken for granted. No one was ignored. There were
only so many moments left to cherish. Soon the ride would end, and he would have to
walk away. He wanted to savor each day, each class, and each friend.
Augie approached Jim and said, "Hey, man, you looked like you were somewhere
else." He sat along side of Jim on the same bench that they sat at for the last three years,
and watched the of freshman dorks still wondering in a daze
"Hey, man, are you okay? asked Augie.
"Yeah, I'm okay. I just don't want it to end. I just want to be a Senior, play sports,
and enjoy the friendship of the guys. I don't want to leave St. Nick's."
"I know what you mean. I'm gonna' miss it too, but hey man, there's college, a
"Maybe for you, but my football days are over."
"You're a good right fielder, who knows. The ride may not be over yet."
"This was special, Augie. We can never go back to October 1960 when you
created the "Outlaws."
"Yeah, that was special, but I believe the best is yet to come."
Garcia, Jensen, and Teague joined Augie and Jim. "Did we really look this bad
as freshman? I saw a freshman with a belt and suspenders, high water pants, and
white socks." said Garcia.
“Did he have a bunch of pens in his pocket?" asked Jensen.
"Where do they find these guys. No wonder the foxes at St. Rose don't want to
be seen with these Plebes. I'm embarrassed to say they go here," said Augie.
“Hey, did ya' hear about Suarez? He was in a car accident and his right leg got
smashed up and they had to amputate it,” said Garcia.
"That's too bad," said Jim, remembering what his father went through.
The following Tuesday Jim visited Suarez. He was depressed because his girl
friend had left him since the accident. Jim tried to tell Suarez that she wasn’t worth it. "If
she really loved you she’d stay with you. My dad lost his leg and he's doing okay. They
have better artificial limbs with natural mobility, and you can continue your life. If you quit
now you’ll never know what you could have achieved. Accept the challenge and go on
with your life. Like the brothers always say, ’Life isn’t fair’.”
“That’s easy for you to say, standing on two legs.”
“Yeah, that’s right, man. When I was ten I went with my father to the Veterans
Hospital. My dad lost his left leg below the knee in the war. I saw a guy with no arms and
legs lying in a basket, smiling. He told me that he was glad to be alive. The guy in the
basket was learning how to paint with a brush in his mouth. God ---- it, Suarez,
accept what you have and be man enough to go on with your life. It’s better than lying
in a basket,” said Jim with emotion.
Suarez ‘s right calf had a phantom itch. The body plays cruel tricks with amputees.
The nerve endings believe the bottom part of the leg is there, and his hand wanted to
scratch an itch that felt real, but wasn’t there. Suarez looked at the missing part of his right
leg, and recalled playing baseball with the team. He looked at his block sweater with the
varsity baseball championship emblem. He held it and said, “At least I can say I was a
“You still are, man. Now you can be a champion again in a different sport: life. You
can do it. Remember, you’re an Outlaw. You’re still one of us,” said Jim with a smile of
They talked about last year’s championship. Jim asked, “When are you returning to
“Easter. About the time baseball season starts,” said Suarez with a smile.
“We’ll see ya then. If you need anything give me a call.”
“Yeah, man, later.”
“Later,” said Jim.
He left Suarez and walked to the bus stop. While waiting for the bus, he thought
about the man he had seen who spent his life cradled in a basket. He wondered why
some people had to suffer during life while others seemed to be the chosen children of
More next week...