Janey Way Memories: Bobaloo

When I grew up on Janey Way in the 1950s and ‘60s, 40 children called it home. They came in all sizes: short, tall, big and small. One boy in particular stands out in my memory. His name was John.

John had a nearly 100 percent hearing loss, but he managed to forge a place for himself in our gang. He taught himself to read lips early on, so he could speak words that he couldn’t even hear. But, the kids teased him a little though, because of the way he mispronounced some words.

He didn’t let it get him down. Instead, he developed a sense of humor. Remember the old saying, “Make them laugh with you, not at you.” John embraced that idea. He told jokes; he mimicked the other boys. And, sure enough, they began to laugh with him. They even gave him a nickname: Bobaloo. I don’t know where that came from. I think Desi Arnaz used to sing a Cuban song of that name. No matter, John became the Bobaloo of Janey Way.

John did well in grammar school in the David Lubin special needs class. His speech improved, and he demonstrated a real talent for the arts. However, in junior high school and high school he floundered, but he graduated on time.

After high school, the kids of Janey Way went in all different directions; some joined the military, and others went to college or got jobs.

John tried several different occupations. He worked first for our neighbor Rick, in a liquor supply distribution warehouse. After that, he worked with his cousin Ron doing landscaping. Eventually, he took a job with Relles Florist, first delivering flowers, and then doing floral design. He taught himself to make arrangements, funeral sprays and even wedding flowers. He had found his nitch.

John has worked at Relles Florist for more than 30 years. He has become my designated floral designer. When I order flowers for my wife, I always ask that he to do the work. That way, the arrangement is sure to be beautiful.

I think you can tell that John is more than just my friend. In fact, he is my younger brother. These days, John lives in our family home on Janey Way. He takes good care of our family home, and I help take care of him. They don’t call John bobaloo anymore, he is just Johnny. Now, bobaloo is just another inspirational Janey Way memory.


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