Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Good Day

Aside from the day my first wife died and the day of our housefire, I try to find something good in everyday. After some protracted looking around, we found Dale J. Weber. I don't know how many of you remember him. I did, and it was a real blast talking with him after 44 years. The thing I remember most about Dale, is that for me, he was the prototypical smart ass. If you looked in the dictionary for a definition of smart ass, Dale's photo would be there. Dale could never stop wisecracking and almost always had to have the last word and it drove the teachers crazy, especially those who had decided that discipline and control were going to be their hallmark. Needless to say, the phys. ed teachers hated Dale the most. It turns out that Dale spent most of his life relatively close by Wayne in the overhead door business. He's now living comfortably in a gated community in North Carolina. He has bamboozled some of his neighbors into thinking that he is a New Jersey goombah and is in witness protection. Still a smart ass, but true to himself. We talked until Amy, his wife of 42 years, started complaining that dinner was getting cold. I'll be passing his contact info along to the committee.

Dale is on Facebook, as it turns out. But there are about 50 Dale Webers on facebook. I've emailed him to friend me because there are fewer Milton Yuans out there.

Speaking of witness protection, some of our classmates are so hard to find that it may very well be that they are in witness protection. On the hunt for Sue Stumpf, Kris Smock and a few others for whom we have developed leads. 

So I find myself in Evansville, Indiana. My website business continued for a little while but eventually, people you do business with want to see you. Websites were starting to become commodities too. Everyone seemed to have a nephew or grandson who wanted to try their hand at building websites. No one seemed to want to pay real money to someone who actually knew what they were doing. I went back to school, at 56 years old to get my teaching credentials. Boy, the University of Southern Indiana scratched their heads when they saw  the Pass/Fail entries in my Yale transcripts, but they enrolled me and I went 4.0 and got my secondary school license after doing the whole student teacher thing at my wife's high school. I may have been a subversive in this "educate to take the test" environment. There is definitely no love of learning going on around here right now. I also found out that there is no demand for 56 year old teachers no matter how well they can teach the materials. Ironically, I modeled myself after Dorothy Tunis, and Al Piaget, and Maggie Erdman and Bob Ruffing and Charlie Tucker. They didn't teach so that you could pass a damn test. They taught because they wanted you to love literature and words as much as they did. The only job postings at the school board were written with someone in mind. I needed to do something for income. Savings wouldn't last forever. Someone suggested that I try private security. Sure, why not. I never tried to do anything that I didn't end up doing reasonably well. 6 years later, I'm a supervisor considering retirement while working on my wife's reunion committee and searching for Wayne Valley alumni and writing two blogs regularly.

I was talking with Weber about the old "if I had it to do over" and the "if I knew then what I know now" gigs and we both come to the conclusion that if we could have done anything different with our lives, we would have, or we would have been different people than we are now. The thing is, we're both pretty happy the way we turned out, and any regret is already water over the dam. I'm happy with my life here in Evansville. I always wanted to end up in the Midwest where things were a hair slower and things didn't seem quite as urgent as back East. and there is something about Evansville people that I have really come to appreciate. I just blogged this on the Reitz67 blog:

The point is that Evansville people seem to remain Evansville people even though they are living somewhere else. Everyone seems to know everyone else's parents, alive or gone, or brother or sister or niece or nephew or even more importantly, who got married to whom, and even more in most cases. To me, this is part of the magic of Evansville, part of the magic of the Westside in particular. For the travel weary, for me in particular, Evansville and the Westside have become my home. I know without being told, that not being born here, I'm not a genuine Westsider, just a pale imitation. But I'm trying, and I have come to appreciate those qualities that distinguish Westsiders and Evansville folks too. What other small city can raise a million bucks at the drop of a hat when a disaster strikes? or do it regularly for MS or Reilly Hospital or dozens of other equally worthy causes?

This town is special to me, and for those of you in the class who were born Westside people, you're special to me too. You need to see yourselves for who you are, for who you went to school with and get over all the rest of the nonsense that separates you from the special values you grew up with. I'm not admitting defeat in finding my lost classmates, but I'm saying that it is a lot more difficult to find them because I don't have the special connections that your classmates have with you.

And so in the end, I sit here at my laptop and look wistfully at the words I have put down and thinking about whether Dorrien Bayer Hughes is really in Newfoundland, NJ and wondering why she has a fax attached to the phone number I have found. In between my musings, we're still in the hunt, making phone calls that aren't returned (Which is bad) and sending out postcards that aren't returned (which is good). Still trying to connect with lost classmates; Still trying to find the motivator that will convince all to attend the 45. Just talked to Kris Skaflestad Pacilio in North Carolina. It just goes on and on. 

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