Sitting here in my home on the island of St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands with plenty of retirement time on my hands, my mind keeps wandering back to my early teaching days at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School here on St. Thomas. But, I especially can't help thinking about Tom, Dick, and Larry, those rambunctious three musketeers-students of my third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade classes. I think they called themselves ''The Crusaders'', or maybe even ''The Great Crusaders'', because they considered themselves imaginary crime-fighters. Pretending to be their Saturday matinee heroes, they wanted to be just like them in every way, but mainly they wanted to rid the world (at least their imaginary, pretend world) of evildoers.
I did not know much about their childhood escapades until years later after they were all grown and I had retired and moved into, by coincidence, the current neighborhood of their parents. After getting to know them and becoming good friends with them, we decided to meet biweekly for maubi and pick-up salt fish, or bush tea with patés, dumb bread, or Johnny cakes.
They seemed delighted to regale me with the childhood escapades, monkeyshines, devilment, and all-around boyhood pranks and games of each of the sons, with each parent trying to outdo the other. The pride in their voices and the gleam in their eyes said it all: Despite how wild or crazy their sons might have been, or the amount of trouble they might have gotten into, their parents, nevertheless, were genuinely proud of them.
The boys are now grown and successful men with families of their own, with the exception of Tom who chose to remain single while pursuing his career as a social worker in the United States Air Force. Single by choice, Tom, as a clinical social worker, gains satisfaction from helping the clients he serves, active-duty servicemen, servicewomen, and their families, along with an occasional retiree or civilian employee. And, as ''an officer and gentleman'', he also enjoys the privileges and benefits of traveling and being stationed at bases around the world, courtesy of his great and wonderful Uncle Sam.
Dick, on the other hand, started his career as a defense attorney here at home on St. Thomas. Carrying out his boyhood dream of fighting crime and criminals, he continues his legal career as the District Attorney of the Virgin Islands of the United States. He delights in supporting his wife and three sons.
Larry, or ''Puter'' as his childhood friends loved to call him, became a computer programmer, and resides in the Silicon Valley of California with his wife, son, and daughter. Besides creating commercially successful family-friendly, nonviolent video games, he works as a computer-generated image (CGI) animator of several successful family-rated animated films.
Although, during their youth they genuinely fulfilled the old adage, ''Boys will be boys'', I can honestly say that I've always been proud being their teacher. Aside from their days of detention for being tardy to Wednesday morning mass, I've never had any major problems with them, nor did I hear any of the other teachers complain about them or known them to be troublesome.
I had always promised myself that I would one day sit down and put my thoughts on paper in the form of a book. Now is that time. So, join me now in this novel of their escapades that I've compiled partially from memory and from my paraphernalia of letters, super-8 movies, scrapbooks, and word-of-mouth stories from their parents.
Tom, Dick, and Larry were best friends ever since they met in my third grade class. During their third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade years, they were not only the best of friends, but they were also the worst of enemies -- at least every other week during the school year, and at least once a week while hanging out around and about their neighborhood during their summer vacations. Those were the years!