Beat It

Rude snowman on Durand Eastman golf course
Rude snowman on Durand Eastman golf course

There were rumors about Brother Heathwood when I was going to school at Bishop Kearney. I had a friend who was in plays there and I remember him laughing about how Heathwood , the drama teacher, chased after the girls. There is nothing funny about sexual abuse so severe that it robbed a former student of the ability to conceive. I lasted two years at Kearney and find it telling that my favorite memory of the place was when Dave Vercolen stood up in class and punched the abusive Brother Levy right in the face. Heathwood’s order, the Irish Christian Brothers whose local members lived on the top floor of the high school, went bankrupt paying off victims who successfully sued. Yet the Catholic Church is still above water.

We were having dinner with my sister at Vic & Irv’s (aka Lakeside Hots) and I heard the the guy sitting next to us tell the waitress, “The only reason I come in here is to read the paper and listen to the music.” There is always a newspaper on the counter there, just like a Spanish place, and that day’s had a picture of a smiling John Laurence Heathwood along with an article about the abusive Sister Janice Nadeau (“Hawk”) from St. Margaret Mary where my cousin went.

Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” came on the sound system. We had just read the reviews of “Leaving Neverland,” which was being aired on HBO that night, and as much as I love that song I didn’t want to hear it.

1 Comment

One Reply to “Beat It”

  1. Interesting to read the above. I remember Brother Levy well. He was never one of my teachers, but he was my “guidance counselor.” We had “Guidance Counseling” at the beginning of our lunch period, maybe once a month. The first or second time we had it scheduled, we all made our way to his classroom, took seats, and Brother Levy started with our “counseling.” A minute or two later this unfortunate boy opens the door, sheepishly, and Levy motions for him to approach where he is leaning with his butt against the teacher’s desk in front. So the kid walks over, with obvious trepidation. We’re all watching, riveted and breathless. Levy asks what happened and the boy starts stuttering about how he went to the cafeteria and then noticed none of his classmates were there….. Brother Levy looks at him, listening, then reaches up with his left hand and slowly removes the boy’s glasses. Then he cocks his right arm back, opens his hand, and swings on the boy’s face with a chilling slap. He told the then red-faced boy to take a seat and he continued on with his offering of “guidance.” All part of a good Catholic education I guess.

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