Friday, July 22, 2011

Swimming Upstream, But Worth Every Stroke

In this time and place (I initially wrote Information Age, and edited it out as being too trite and cliched), finding classmates is much like swimming in floodwaters. There is so much information, but you continually encounter lots of junk in the water.

I suppose it is only natural that aside from finding the 200 (now 150), many of whom I knew only by sight or by name, that I would direct our efforts first toward people with whom I actually shared classes and activities; people with whom I spent quality and formative time. I talked at length with Ned (now known as Ed) Soleau, the guy who singlehandedly stopped me from ever riding motorcycles after a hair-raising ride with my instruments following a late all school production rehearsal from Valley Road to Maple Avenue off of Parish Drive. Just a few miles of immeasurable terror and visions of my certain doom. Hamburger on the highway, playing in the pit orchestra in the sky. The 1960's equivalent of one of those metal rollercoasters that loop the loop and corkscrew and make you clench every part of your body and all you want is for it to end. Yeah, something like that.

My wife tells me we will never get done if I don't stop talking for hours to the people I call to verify contact information. I can't help it. It's not reliving the glory days. I'm well past that, I'm afraid. It's reconnecting with people who were there when it all started. At the dawn of self awareness; of becoming who you were to become. Plus everyone knows where someone else is. That's what I tell her I'm doing......

Anyway, Ned, as I couldn't stop calling him, shared his opinion that those adolescent years were the most critical in his own development as a human being. He talked about how Maggie Erdman was the first adult that ever treated him like a responsible adult; had expectations of him to be a responsible adult, and how he strove to fulfill those expectations. I understood exactly what he was saying. Maggie Erdman single handedly convinced me that Yale was the place for me to go because she wanted me to challenge myself. I did so in large part because of her. Hey, what did we know about going to college back then? Now I grant you, that didn't turn out so well, but it wasn't her fault. I am still challenging myself, just to my own standards, not those of Yale, because I now know, because of her, that everyone should always be challenging themselves, to become a better person. It was her expectation that I too struggled to fulfill because of my respect for her. There were only two teachers that I ever visited after graduating. One was Al Piaget and Dot Tunis (I always think of them as one unit) and the other was Maggie Erdman. All 3 of them were better teachers than most that I met subsequently at Yale. Actually I also include Bob Ruffing and Charles Tucker in that number, so it's actually 5.

I have also discovered in talking with so many people, that everyone has something to offer, not just in information, which is the presumable reason for calling, but also in helping me to remember things about our time in Wayne Valley. I'm having a hard enough time remembering what I am supposed to be doing in the room I'm in without retracing my steps and starting over again, much less the things I am being reminded about in these wonderful conversations. Little details that slipped out of my head to make room for something else.

So if I find or contact Anthony Wayne 7-3 people or 8-4 people first, so be it. I haven't spoken directly with them but by email and facebook yet but was delighted to locate Kris Smock (Ogwaro) and couldn't understand why she was not located since she went to reunions before and Linda found her on Facebook. Same thing for Karen Karle Kenderdine (although I had to find out her married name from Chris Labowski, who's still a pediatrician in Cincinnati). But that's how the search process works. You sift through the flotsam and jetsam in the stream, saving this bit and that bit and sometimes the pieces suddenly fall together and voila, another classmate found and reconnected to the class.

I'm putting together another list of people we've found or contacted with verified contact info to send to the Reunion committee. I know their mailing has probably already gone out, but I just couldn't get it done in time. It's a rather difficult process, figuring out what they already know, what may have changed since the last time the info was checked, is it part of the 30th list, the 40th list, the lost 200 list, the found on Facebook list and cross checking. I'm also hopelessly behind in calling the phone numbers we've found because that is still the 100% reliable verification of identity. Hearing that "Yes, it's me!" is the best, but of course the inevitable half hour gab session that always seems to ensue kills progress. Do you know where so and so is and so on. What ever happened to..... and before you know it, it's too late in the evening to call anyone else. I tell Linda, "Hey, I'm reconnecting here". She mumbles "Reconnect on your own time, we've got people to find here". Her search skills are amazing. Don't ever borrow money from her and try to skip town. She'll hunt you down like a dog, as they say here in Indiana.

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