I discovered D&D when I got exiled from P.S #14 in Jersey City, NJ to J.W.Wakeman #6. Wakeman had a Gifted and Talented program that a lot of folks in my hood made things happen to get me there. Then Norman, Dallas, Michelle and Anthony introduced me to AD&D. I was hooked. I had absorbed enough that school year playing over lunch and after school at homes or libraries that by that summer when school and access to this folks would be scarce. I made up some D&D rules and introduced them to the kids in my hood. Paul-by-Midnight, ‘White-boy’ Mike, Butch, Rolando ‘Calrissian’, and Renau. Paul was my bully. D&D kept him off my back. He played it straight, no bully shenanigans. Soon, we’d even be friends and he took a butt kicking on my behalf.
I got the AD&D DMG for my birthday. Dallas, Norman, and Anthony came out to the hood for my party. If you know the layout, then this is a BIG deal for North Bergen kids to come out to Jersey City for a birthday party circa 1980/81? Anthony, Sr brought them. He was a thin, deep Italian man. He liked that I took up for his son, I did for all the G&T kids. He also wasn’t afraid to come out to where I lived.
It wasn’t long before I was DM. I got scolded by Dallas for letting the paladin have his Holy Sword and warhorse, maybe… I let the paladin have those things because now I felt I could bring on the Ogre Magi, the Mind Flayer and of course a Dragon! We had some awesome adventures.
And I never stopped running games. I had a diverse group through high school. I added wargaming to my hoard during my military service. When I’m playing or running, at the core is me connecting with young Mad Jay over those long ago summers of adventure.