• LEO RACICOT

         Have you ever had a memory from childhood that you thought of occasionally and didn't know if it were real or not?  You don't know if they came from a dream or if they really exist.   There are several in this mind of mine.  I had this memory of being in this fenced tunnel with wooden planks going through a walkway, behind a mill building with a famous street lady named 'The Cat lady'.  Everybody from where I came from knew the Cat lady and there were more stories about her, either real or imagined.  This was a recurring memory of mine until one day I finally couldn't take it any longer and I called my brother Patrick and told him about it.  Yes, he said, we were walking home from the Strand Theater after taking in a double feature and during our walk home we encountered the Cat Lady in the walkway.  I just remember being petrified of being in close quarters with such a woman, a woman who would walk with a grocery carriage full of dead cats, or so the story went....but Patrick validated that memory so I felt a little bit better about it....
         Another memory I had was a good one, one of a kind man, that, for years, I thought was a character from a television show that I watched as a child.  I knew this character as 'Leo Racicot'.  He wasn't just Leo, or Mr. Racicot...he was the full name Leo Racicot.  Occasionally he would creep into my mind as a man who was about 9 feet tall with very strong characteristics and size 18 shoes.  I always remembered Leo Racicot as a gentle character who was kind and was your typical, gentle PBS character during that time.  That memory I hadn't asked Patrick about because I was sure he was an actor in a television show, much like Mr. Rogers....he wasnt just Leo, he was Leo Racicot...full name and all.  Its a strong name, a catchy name and the memory had to be from about first or second grade.
         About five years ago I was at the Snack shack inside City Hall and stopped to get something to eat.  I couldn't believe it !!!  Leo Racicot walked by me!!  I think I yelled out LEO RACICOT !!!  He was actually a person, a living and breathing person, not just a false memory of a character long, long ago.  I couldn't believe that I actually ran into him and that he was in front of me.  I think he thought I had grown up to be a weirdo adult!!  It turns out that he had been a teacher at our elementary school and knew much of our family as he had taught them all at our elementary school. I asked him if he knew me and he did!!  Wow, it was Leo Racicot.....I knew him because he was my teacher, just not my homeroom teacher,  but he left a mark on me through all these years.  It was a positive memory of a nice man who was very kind.   He wasnt actually 9 feet tall and his foot size has shrunk to normal over the years......I dont even remember the name of my first grade teacher, i know she was a nun, but I wouldnt remember her if she walked by me at City Hall.
      I have got to know Leo Racicot a little better these days through interactions on social media and i'm glad about that....I like to look back and remember the good old days of my childhood.  I had a great childhood, a happy one and no doubt because of those around me, people like Leo Racicot!!!
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