Brain Exercises and Mental Health


Mike Slickster – Eighth Grade Graduation

To maintain satisfactory brain health and memory, psychologists suggest that the intellect needs to be exercised regularly, as it is necessary for the body to remain functional throughout one’s whole life.

This is what’s professed in most every issue of my AARP bimonthly magazine and monthly bulletin.

If I remember correctly, this embroiled blogster gave in to becoming a member of the acclaimed old-farts association after being hounded by them to join since I turned fifty—maybe fifty-five—but regardless, they were relentless in their correspondences to me until receiving my membership fee.

This brings up another point. How did AARP know when I turned fifty?

Now they are unrelenting with their constant fund-raising letters, which seem to be sent biweekly, asking I donate again and again, even after having sent in my yearly contributions for their lobbying efforts and hungry seniors in need of help.

I once sent back to them in their return envelope, a suggestion that they stop sending these letters and wasting all this paper that resulted from cutting down trees, in support of such an unnecessary deluge of missives, begging for funds, that are thrown ultimately away in the recycling bin, all of which contributes to deforestation and global warming.

The savings in postage alone would be huge, considering AARP’s current membership totals over thirty-seven million. Assuming the price per letter sent out is 19¢ (the exact cost for postage was estimated and just for argumentation), the total for one mass-mailing would be $7,030,000. If two requests are sent out per month, their yearly savings would be $168,720,000.00 for not sending out any of them.

What does this have to do with my opening premise? The preceding was just a little exercise to prove I can still logically do simple arithmetic, a great regimen for brain health.

My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, making my brother and I change schools often. Being the new kid always wasn’t a great thing for me, but I survived. It all started when my parents decided to enroll me at a parochial school in Hackensack, N.J., for kindergarten, when we lived in River Edge.

Don’t know why they did that, but the school found out we weren’t parishioners there and forced us to transfer to a Catholic school back in River Edge, starting my hectic roller-coaster ride, scholastically speaking.

To further exercise my memory, here’s a listing of all my teachers from kindergarten through eighth grade, the school and the town in which it was located, with an example of notoriety on the educator’s part. I’ve left out my short stint in Hackensack for kindergarten, as I don’t remember the teacher’s name, and excluded my high-school instructors, for there were far too many of them to mention here in this weekly essay.

Kindergarten: St. Peter’s in River Edge – Mrs. Paine, and she was. My previously known happiness and freedom ended in her classroom. Her ruby-red lips in a grimace are etched indelibly in my recollection, especially for my insistence on breaking crayons and pulling Debra Annisak’s pigtails

First Grade: St. Peter’s in River Edge – Sister Helen; She was a likeable person. That summer after my hitch in her class, while my family was on vacation, we stopped at a motel to stay overnight somewhere in Canada. Upon our arrival, we met up with Sister Helen and another nun, who had apparently just checked in. They packed up and checked out as fast as our quick meeting, evidently. I guess they didn’t want us to see them in bikinis by the pool, not that I wanted to.

Second Grade: Lincoln School, Dumont, NJ – Miss Parker; My bachelor uncle pick me up from school one day and saw me talking with her. After finding out whom the young woman was and that she wasn’t married, Uncle Leon requested I ask for her phone number, saying he wanted to take her out on a date. I did, and she gave it to me.

A trusting soul, she was. They didn’t date for too long. I wondered why, but never asked. Luckily I didn’t receive an F for the year, I bet.

Third Grade: Lincoln School, Dumont, NJ – Mrs. Anthony; While waiting to cross the street after school, I met up with her at the traffic light, telling her a joke that my older brother told me the day before: Why did the midget get kicked out of the nudist camp? Because he got into everyone’s hair.

I didn’t understand what that meant, but thought it was funny. Apparently my teacher didn’t like it and smacked me across the face. They were allowed to do that back in the dark ages. She wrote a note for me to take home and get signed by my mother, describing I should have my mouth washed out with soap. Thank goodness my mom had a sense of humor. She laughed at the joke.

Fourth Grade: St. Joseph’s School, Oradell, NJ – Mrs. Kimbal; She was a big woman who picked up my tiny desk while I was in it and brought me down to stay for the remainder of the day in first grade, for talking during lunchtime, for which we ate in the classroom.

I had exclaimed in exasperation, “Not bologna and relish again?” The bread had become soaked with pickle juice; not very appetizing, and my mum had a habit of making them a lot.

Fifth Grade: Holy Trintiy School, Hackensack, NJ – Mrs. Moran; She was a kindly, old woman who tugged habitually on her bra straps. Don’t ask me why.

Sixth Grade: Holy Trinity School – Sister Margaret Fidelis (Sister Mary Elephant); She smelled like she didn’t bathe. Worse yet, usage of a ruler across one’s knuckles was her punishment of choice. An entire entry in this journal was dedicated to this extraordinary woman.

Seventh Grade: Holy Trinity School – Mrs. Fiore; The clip-clopping of her spiked heels as she walked along the granite floors of the school’s hallways alerted us to her arrival. She sounded like a horse, for which we nicknamed her “Mrs. Fury,” after the stallion on the old television program.

Eighth Grade: Holy Trinity School – Sister Maria Agnes; This lady was a great nun. I can’t really say anything unusual about her other than raising my eyebrows every time (which was often) she spoke of her stint in the Aleutian Islands with a bunch of U.S. Navy Seals, about whom I think she had fantasies. The woman had this dreamy look in her eyes while telling us her tales.

All right, enough of that. Maybe I’ll put together a synopsis of my high-school years in a future tirade.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support. Don’t forget to get out and vote on Tuesday, if you’re a citizen of the United States. Thanks goodness this election year will be over.

About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at
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