Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Generational Differences and another chapter

I was talking with Nancy Gaestel via emails about my dad. He was recruited out of college by American Cyanamid (that's how we ended up in Wayne, actually. I remember standing in the middle of the woods off Berdan Avenue and my dad said here's where my office is going to be. I said "Sure, Dad") He was right again, as it turned out.  Anyway, he worked for Cyanamid for his entire working life and retired from there, only to watch it get sold, dismantled and sold off piece by piece by American Home Products. He retired at just about the right time. He'd ask me every now and again, "How come you're always changing jobs? You've had so many." And I'd just reply, "Different times, Dad, different times." Thinking back, I'd either move for other reasons than jobs, or I've had a couple of companies with whom I was really happy go belly up. As I got older and more high maintenance because of my work credentials, I got downsized a couple of times. I also got remarried (not my choice) too and that had me on the move again. I don't know whether it was Fate or luck of he draw or sign of the times, but I try to find a logic to the progression of jobs I've held. I'd like to think that there's a cumulative body of knowledge that I've acquired along the way. Thinking back, I know my folks got a lot smarter as I got older. Funny how that seems to work.

That's what is making the search for lost classmates such a challenge. We all have moved around a lot. Well, a lot of us. I realize that there are a fair number of folks, like Bill Shepperd, who stayed in Wayne for most of their working lives, but there are probably just as many who are like me. Wayne to New Haven to Taipei Taiwan, back to New Haven and then to Lincoln Nebraska.

Yeah, I met my first wife while tending bar. She was working there too at the time. Bartending wasn't a totally absorbing occupation for me and my friends so we got involved in a college based underground newspaper. It was the early '70's folks. Gradually we ended up riding herd on a schism in the newspaper staff, and where there was only one good feelings hippy rag, now there was also a more politically directed one as well. The Lincoln Gazette split and now there was the Nebraska Biweekly Dispatch. We did that every two weeks for over two years. Writing, editing, selling advertising, laying it out, driving it to West Point Nebraska every two weeks. I flew it off the press (grabbed the papers off the press and bundled them up) and brought them back to Lincoln where we hawked them on the street, Free or Donation. Not something you wanted to quit your day job for, but it was engaging and certainly honed my writing and put an edge to my political outlook. These were the Nixon years, and left wing politicos, us included, were convinced that we were bound for a police state.  It also got me involved in the physical manufacture of the paper. Somehow out of all of this, I became more interested in printing than newspaper work. When we were invited to join with a politically like minded group in Detroit (where there was a great community college printing program) we jumped at the chance and got our operation headed for Detroit.

At the time, it never occurred to me that as I was traipsing all over the countryside, that I was making it pretty hard to find me. That's how I lost track of Paul Wagner and my other high school friends. Some other college acquaintances had visited Lincoln but for the most part, I was out of touch. I suppose I could have been tracked by contacting my parents, but now, 44 years later, many of our parents are gone and aren't around to ask anymore. We use obituary listings for surviving kind, you know the "survived by his Daughter Julie, of Elkhart Indiana" as clues to locate folks, but you get the picture. You get 3 or 400 people doing this and it's darn hard to keep track of folks who aren't thinking at all about getting kept track of.

That is why it is such a remarkable achievement after so long for our committee to know as much as it does about us, and why it behooves all of us to keep in contact with them. I told Nancy Gaestel that my search for Lost Classmates was like my penance for being so footloose and unconcerned in years past. I've got a lot of time under the bridge to make up for...........

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