Danny and Me
By Steven Wolfe
I had a long friendship with Danny Wolfman dating back to P.S. 150. Whenever teachers seated us alphabetically, we sat very near each other. Danny had a naturally muscular body but none of the grace or acrobatic skill which makes an athlete. Still, he was powerful, and played all the ball games with us. He was also very bright.
In our last year at Bryant, we all took the test to qualify for a Regents’ Scholarship. Danny and I were seated in a class, he directly behind me. One day, a school administrator came in and told us that the Regents’ Scholarship winners had been announced and that there were three on the list in that very class. She would announce the winners in alphabetical order. As she slowly read out the names of the first two, I turned around and looked at Danny. We both knew that the final choice would be one of us. As it happened, it was me. As soon as my name was announced, he slumped forward onto me in a gesture which combined both congratulations for me and disappointment that he had not won.
Danny went on to the University of Rochester as I went to Cornell. I saw him only once after that as our paths in life diverged. Danny became the chief archaeologist of the State of Arkansas, a state which has always had dinosaur bones and other fossilized material of genuine archeological interest. It was an important position. Then Danny died at a very young age, perhaps he was only 50, but I never ascertained any details about this good friend of my childhood.
Writing this mini-biography reminded me of two other incidents in Danny’s life. When we were about 13 years old at different summer camps, Danny had an emergency appendectomy. In those days, the administration of anesthesia was a hit or miss proposition, and they may have used ether which was difficult to administer in exact amounts. When Danny had his surgery, they probably administered too much anesthesia so that he did not come out of it immediately and remained in questionable condition for several days. I recall being seriously concerned about him, but he managed to pull through with no long term ill effects. Later on, as an operating room technician in the Army, I was instructed in the use of ether, most importantly that it was only to be applied in an emergency because of the difficulty of controlling the amount administered, and its effect which could be and was fatal in some cases.
Less serious was a joint bicycle trip Danny and I took to LaGuardia Airport. It was a hot day and when we arrived, we decided to have a Coke at a small store in one of the airport buildings. I noticed some kids hanging around, but they looked harmless enough. Danny and I left our bikes unlocked because we knew we’d be gone for only several minutes. When we emerged, however, our bikes were gone. While Danny’s bike was old, mine was relatively new, and I was fearful about being bawled out when I got home. We decided to walk home, there being an unspoken agreement between us that this was to be a penance for our laziness and naivete. It was a long and arduous walk. Happily, our parents did not punish us. I’m not sure about Danny, but I was never the victim of any theft again, obsessively locking my next bike and every car I ever drove thereafter.