Wednesday, August 5, 2015
DON’T MESS WITH THE JAKER
DON’T MESS WITH THE JAKER
When I run low on material, I steal from one of my seldom read books. This is one of my favorite stories from “I Used To Be Stupid.”
In September, 1963, I was a freshman at Lafayette College. I met Dave Jacobs while moving into my third floor room at Marques Hall. Dave was my roommate. I don’t know how they match up roommates in college. I suspect they chose in the order of which new students they expected would flunk out first. At least that is how it seemed with Jake and me. Was it just coincidence that the two freshmen with the lowest high school grade point averages and only SAT scores lower than 1025 in the entire class were chosen to room together?
I am not sure how I was accepted to Lafayette; I think I was recruited to play football. Lafayette did not really scout for football talent in those days, I suspect that if you made a local all-anything team and graduated, you had a chance to be recruited. As a 175 pound tackle I am sure I was never scouted. I think Dave may have been accepted under the same pretext.
Dave claimed to have been the starting QB on his Corning, New York high school team. He did throw a pretty good pass so his claim might have been true. At 5’ 8” and 140 pounds I doubt he was scouted anymore than was I. Dave never tried out for the freshman team.
Dave had a low hairline and a quizzical almost Neanderthal look with a strange I know something you don’t know smile on his face at all times. I have never been described as being worldly or sophisticated yet even to me Dave was a rube. I don’t think Dave ever left Corning, N.Y. until that first day in College. Still, Dave was a good guy with a good sense of humor and we got along very well.
Dave was by no means an imposing figure, yet that strange smile along with an intent stare made him somehow intimidating. Dave’s intimidating aura went from mystique to reality one fall Saturday night that first semester.
I was not present that historic night, but the story is well documented.
That night Dave went to the movies in downtown Easton, Pa. with dorm mates Pete Jones and John Morber. While exiting the theater, under the flashing marquis, a local high school tough and his “wing-man” bumped into Jake.
Lafayette College was high on a hill 1500 steps or more above the town of Easton. The locals who we called “townies” were as divided from the college kids who the townies referred to as “college assholes” as the college was from the town. There was an unwritten yet palpable dislike between the townies and the college assholes.
The townies that bumped into Jake were both six feet tall with thick necks and were sporting the leather letter jackets which signified their local gridiron prowess. Under the apparent influence of several beers the locals were looking to kick a little bit of college asshole butt.
“What’s your fucking problem?” the local inquired of Jake.
“Got no problem” Jake responded.
“I think you do”, came the retort.
“Only problem is you, and I don’t think that is really a problem” Jake answered with his combination Neanderthal look and knowing smirk.
“Come on Jake, let’s go” John and Pete insisted in unison.
“It’s OK” Jake answered confidently.
“Out of the way asshole” the large local insisted and at the same time he gave Dave a big push. Dave stepped back but maintained his balance.
“Give it your best shot” Jake responded.
The local followed this challenge with a round house right to Jake's left ear. Dave ducked the blow and followed it with two quick jabs to the townies chin. Stunned, the town tough rushed Dave with both arms wind milling rapidly and violently, intent to destroy Jake. Dave, “The Jaker” as he would become known, stepped back and landed two more quick jabs through the wind milling fists into the townie’s jaw. He then stepped quickly to his left and unleashed a short efficient right cross which met its’ mark and dropped the aggressor to his knee.
The wing-man stood in shock while his partner knelt glassy eyed in disbelief.
Dave stood his ground, eyed the other tough and calmly inquired, “Next?”
There was no next, "Come on Tank" the wing-man said as he helped his comrade to his feet, "Let's get out of here". In a matter of seconds the confrontation was over.
Jonesy and Morber were in awe of Dave’s pugilistic prowess and when they reached the dorm recounted the incident to anyone who would listen. For his part Jake said nothing.
In days, the fight became campus legend and Dave was given a wide berth and much respect from all. As his friend and roommate I was somehow a beneficiary of this respect. In the privacy of our room I asked Dave about his boxing ability, “So what’s up, were you in the Golden Gloves or something?”
“Nope” Dave went on to explain, “My friend’s Dad from back in Corning ran a small gym. He taught me a few things, and I spared a few rounds from time to time. Those tournament guys would kick my ass, but most guys who never learned to box at all make mistakes and are easy to handle regardless of their size.”
I never had cause to take Jake on, but I often wondered if push came to shove who would win. I outweighed Dave by 35 pounds, was much stronger and had wrestled in high school for two years. I think it would have been easy to dodge a punch, tackle him and force him to submit…Who am I kidding? If push had come to shove I would have backed down.
After that fight downtown, nobody messed with the Jaker!
The last I heard, Dave retired from banking and is living in Wyoming. I assume he is still undefeated.