Friday, June 3, 2011

Deadly Summer and so the Story Goes

The hunt for classmates has slowed down a bit because on the Westside of Evansville, it's yard sale season. Yard sale, rummage sale, call it what you will in different parts of the country, it's still the same. Get rid of your junk so you won't have to haul it to the landfill or pay someone to take it away. We're doing this mostly for friends who have far more junk than we do, but we've got a better venue. Most of our junk got burned up in the fire last year, and we're doing our best not to sift through our friends' junk to accumulate more.

It's also getting hot as blazes here, after a real cool spell, the end of which was marked by some terrible storms that spawned tornadoes and severe weather and flooding across the Midwest. But that's how quickly things change and lives are devastated and people are suddenly gone. It's also another reason to get with the program and search out old friends and classmates. My search has found several who have passed away and recently too. The class committee is very careful about verification of such passing having gotten burned by angry families before. It's also hard to accept that our friends and classmates are gone except our memories of them. Here are some of whom I found who I believe to be gone: Bernice Alexander, Bruce Apter, Jim Avery, Al Butler, Mike Calderone, Eddie Cross, Eddie Mauriello, Catherine Nowak, Marylou Rudin. If you are any of these folks, let me know or if you know I'm wrong, let me know but all indications are such. It's especially hard to take because even though these passings happened over a long period of time, I've only found out in about a 3 week period. It's a big shock to find out like that.

It's undeniable. We've become our parents. We are at the point where health concerns and retirement are either upon us or at least within view. Others who knew us back then deserve to see what we have become. I know I want the reassurance that life has gone on, and has gone on well for the people I went to school with, and that's just another reason to go to the 45th, even though I'm 900 miles away. In my younger day, it would have meant "ROAD TRIP!!". Now it's more like a mission.

Back in 1975, we were moving into new digs in Detroit Michigan, just north of U of Detroit. Six Mile Rd and Livernois. 8 of us from the wilds of Nebraska, in the blighted industrial city. Looking back, it was crazy. We were producing political tracts, and I enrolled in a printing program at a local community college to formally learn the printing process. I ended up getting called into the dean's office and being asked to call a referred printer and getting a job because I had sucked the curriculum dry. I always seemed to walk in the back door, fully intending to do physical work and walking out the front door as a production planner and scheduler. (Shortly after, I began my tradition of starting a new job, getting in a raffle and winning. I won the Derby board that year on Seattle Slew.) Our political group's office was near Greektown in the downtown area  and so non working hours were filled with political discussion and Greek food. Before long, our little group merged with the Socialist Workers Party at a big conference in Oberlin, and they wanted a big chunk of my income. My wife was adamantly against the notion and when they asked us to move back east to New York, I reluctantly agreed. We lived in Queens, I commuted into the city to work north of Soho in the printers district. The commute was 3 hours a day. Changed jobs a couple times, and moved back to where it all started, almost. Ended up in Rutherford, NJ. My political activism days were over, my printing career was about to peak, and my commute was only 45 minutes. My parents were delighted that I was nearby. I went to the 20th. Worked in printing until the early '80s when printing became so computerized that it was only natural that I would migrate to that aspect of the business. By the time I got out, I was doing more computer work than printing. I and a couple of Taiwan guys my Dad introduced me to started a custom computer manufacturing outfit out of Fairfield. It did okay for a few years until PCs started becoming commodities and the margins eroded. I started working on programming and networking projects, let my partners buy me out and I gravitated to network integration and ended up doing web design. That was all going well until my wife tells me that her routine physical chest x-ray showed something. The world was about to unravel. It was 1997.

We didn't make the 30th reunion though we had planned for it. It was all something of a blur from that point on. It was a time of going from doctor to doctor. Somehow class reunions weren't high on the priority list. It's funny how life often gets in the way of our plans.

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