Saturday, June 18, 2005

Here it is - The SWCS Trojan newspaper

PITTSBURGH, Penn. - Somewhere in Cheryl Towers' crates boxes and assorted storage devices, she came across this issue of The Trojan, which features Class of '66 member Chris Henderson on the cover with Lyon Evans, Class of '65, I believe. Chris was going to be taking over as managing editor, Lyon was going to be the editor in chief.

I remember Lyon writing some pretty pithy (pithy, pi-thy, I said) editorials about different things, pithy enough that he got in some trouble and there were some rumblings about censorship.

The power of the press, even in 1964.

Chris was the editor in chief the year I worked on the paper (senior year) and had the whole system down pat. I read somewhere - maybe on the discussion list - that someone believes Chris is a judge, in Maryland.

Judge Henderson! That would be fun to track down so we could tell his local judicial council about his high school misdeeds. Hmmm... did he have any?

Maybe we should take discussion of misdeeds to the discussion list on Yahoo?

Nah. If you have any information about Justice Henderson's whereabouts - or some information about his wild life of youthful indiscretions - pass them along to me.

After all, I'm a journalist! I can keep a secret.

If I want to.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A long way from the Trojan newspaper

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Last evening I spent a couple of Merlot-filled hours at John's Grill, a saloon that figures prominently in the Dashiell Hammett book The Maltese Falcon, which was made into a great movie with Humphrey Bogart. It was after a long day of reporting and writing that included a rubber-chicken lunch listening to an assistant U.S. attorney general regaling a roomful of CPAs about how her tax division was kicking butt in finding tax cheats.

Her language was sufficiently provocative that I was able to write a story in the one-hour I had to get it to my Washington D.C. editors at BNA, Inc. I haven't had to move that fast in years. In about an hour, I get to do a repeat when the head of the entire IRS will be speaking to the same group. I'm told he's really great for a few soundbites and the CPAs are sharpening their pencils to nail him with some good questions, which I won't understand probably.

But as I was reading over some of the postings on the SWCS Yahoo discussion list, I was reminded of humble journalistic beginnings, in which I thought having to write 200 words about a football game for the Trojan was a massive undertaking. A sports story for Chrissakes! Who won, who lost, who scored and did it rain?

The Eavesdroppers, co-authored with John Rupp, was a lot more fun, but it was pretty intimidating to write, too. Even if we had a whole month to put a column together.

It's a long way from that classroom with Calvin Hanson reading out of an ancient journalism text to me sitting on the 13th floor of a hotel in a state that has had four significant earthquakes in the last few days.

13th floor? Earthquakes?

Calvin Hanson might appreciate the humor. It's hard to say because he laughed exactly once in our Trojan class our entire senior year. He never laughed at what we wrote in Eavesdroppers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Miss Alexander's class - Second Grade

LAKEWOOD, N.Y. - The scary thing about this photo was recognizing Doug Pillsbury in the front row, second from the left and simultaneously seeing him in the SWCS 1966 yearbook, wedged neatly between Jon Ostrander and Susan Post.

Note that I said Susan Post. When we were in high school, I remember she was Sue though her nickname under her photo says her nickname was Post. Go figure.

I remember her two old brothers, Bill and Bob. Bill, the eldest was a nice guy, graduated about 1963. Bob was not-so-nice (at least to some members of the Class of '66, myself included). He graduated in 65, I think. I didn't get him a graduation present.

But Doug Pillsbury! Pills! I don't remember him attending the two reunions we had, but I do remember him from gym class, probably his least favorite time of the school day, but it was required.

Doug Pillsbury just wasn't particularly interested in any of the silly games we played, especially the crueler ones like dodge ball. He took part, getting chosen near last for most teams and in one historic softball game on those lower fields, got beaned by a fly ball when he wasn't looking.

Today, he likely the president of a corporation somewhere or Larry Ellison's secret partner in Oracle.

But in second grade, there he sits next to Sally Smith, I believe. There's a lot of recognizable folks in this picture, Craig Young and Jack Nobbs in the back row, left, I'm pretty sure.

This photo comes to us courtesy of CeeJay who is going through some boxes of photos and promises more.

Does anyone have any more photos from our reunions? Or how about any photos from high school, junior high, or elementary school? I have a box of photos in my storage room that I haven't opened in years that might get dragged out this weekend.

And I'm going to go back through my emails to make sure I haven't missed posting any sent to me. If you sent me a photo and I didn't post it, scream! (electronically, that is) to remind me.

I have the memory of twig, a slender twig at that.

Which is a good segue to today's song:

I Remember You
sung by Frank Ifield

I remember you
You're the one that made my dreams come true
Just a few kisses ago

I remember you
You're the one who said I love you too
Yes I do
Didn't you know

I remember too, a distant bell
And stars that fell, like the rain
Out of the blue

When my life is through
And the angels ask me to recall
The thril of them all
Then I will tell them I remember
Tell them I remember
Tell them I remember you

I remember too, a distant bell
And stars that fell, like the rain
Out of the blue

When my life is through
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of them all
Then I will tell them I remember
Tell them I remember
Tell them I remember you

Words by Johnny Mercer, Music by Victor Schertzinger

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

She almost got me through chemistry

ELEVENTH GRADE, SWCS - It wasn't that I couldn't learn chemistry, it was just that, well, I had this thing about carrying textbooks home.

I mean, why carry the damn things when I never opened them? I was usually so beat from wrestling in the winter, and track in the spring, that the idea of opening a book at my house was out of the question. (In the fall, I was just too lazy to carry books, also. Just ask Sue Guertin Chandler...)

Hence, I failed both Math 11 and Chemistry junior year.

But this posting isn't to detail my shortcomings. Even cyberspace isn't ready for that litany. But I put Carol Wright in today's spotlight because she came soooo close to getting me through chemistry. We sat in the back of Henry Weiss's class (if ever there was a role model for a mad scientist, it was Hank). And sometime in the spring, Carol started giving me some coaching, which I gladly accepted because I was headed to summer school like an Erie Lackawanna freight out of control.

The only thing I remember clearly was her laughing at my answers, but always, always being very patient. My scores improved in the tests in class and for a brief and shining moment (I'm allowed one cornball cliche per blog. Check the rules, please.), for one brief and shining moment I thought I would be able to pass the regents exam.

I missed it by one point.

Mille fois merde!

I saw Carol at the 20th reunion, made a few atomic jokes and moved back to the bar when I spent way too much time that night. But one night several years later I had a frightening nightmare that she was in some kind of trouble. I wrote her a letter to the address that was listed with our reunion materials but never heard back from her. The letter might have been frankly a little bit, well, weird, I suppose. (I know, you can't imagine that.)

Her chemistry coaching paid off for me. I took the class in summer school at Chautaqua, sitting next to a young lady named Nancy Patchen (another story). I breezed through the class and got at 85 on the regents test - without ever taking the textbook home on the back of my Yamaha.

So today's song? Whaddya think? Come on!

It's "Oh Carol," of course.

Oh Carol
by Neil Sedaka

Oh! Carol!
I am but a fool
darling i love you
though you treat me cruel
You hurt me
and you make me cry
but if you leave me
I will surely die

Darling, there will never be another
'cause i love you so
don't ever leave me
say you'll never go

I will always treat you as my sweet heart
no matter what you do
oh! Soriya
i'm so in love with you

Darling, there will never be another
'cause i love you so
don't ever leave me
say you'll never go

I will always treat you as my sweet heart
no matter what you do
oh! Carol!
I'm so in love with you

Monday, June 13, 2005

In the front row, drummer Dick Popowski

LAKEWOOD, N.Y. - The photos keep coming out and it's great.

Today's is courtesy of CeeJay, who, after the posting about bad hair days, wanted to reveal a different do than what she had in her graduation picture which I posted.

It's quite stylish (in the back row).

There's some of the usual suspects in this photo, which I will post on the Yahoo site and also mail directly to anyone who wants the gazillion megapixel version.

But what ever happened to Dick Popowski?

The last time I saw him, I was about 19 and slamming a few lime coolers at the Hideaway on Fairmount Avenue. He came in, all flaps up and full of wisecracks (as usual), and told me arguably the dirtiest joke I have ever heard. Ever.

Forget it. I'm not telling it here. My daughter looks at this site sometimes for Godsakes.

But I never heard another word about him, and he obviously didn't graduate with us, or if he did, he sure missed the SWCS yearbook.

Maybe we should start a list of those folks who were with us and them went off to other schools or who-knows where. We already have heard from Jackie Hamm (who is on the mailing list) and I think there might be a couple of others also getting our emails, to whom I apologize for not remembering right now.

But here's a partial list of the disappeared, and one tidbit about where someone is:

Dick Popowski
David Hamilton
Douglas Brandow
Ted Capella
Nancy Anderson
Jim Barton
Ed Potter
Dan Ryan
Jim Anderson
and ???

The mystery guest whose whereabouts I know (though I lost his email and contact information in the Great Computer Crash of April 2005) is Gary Shenkle.

Shenkle was with us until about the end of freshman year when he moved to Wallingford, Conn. We wrote back and forth exactly twice. And then poof, like teenagers with the attention span of a twig, we stopped writing.

Two years ago, through, I received an email from Gary who is working as an attorney in Washington state after giving up a dental practice.

Yup, Gary Shenkle and here's the kicker. For awhile, he was in a dental practice with Jim Burk, Class of '64 SWCS, and arguably the toughest guy in school. If Burk wasn't the toughest guy, he fooled a lot of us.

Gary hasn't told me why he left that practice, but if I ever get my old emails off the old computer, I'll put him on our list and see if I can get him to tell us a Jim Burk tale. Burk's 59 by now, he can't be that scary.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

The one guy who Moose worried about

SWCS, Second Floor - I never really got to know Harold T. "Doss" Johnson when we were students in high school.

He taught special education, though exactly how special the students were is missing from our yearbook - at least in my thumbing through the pages.

I did get to know "Doss" after graduation, when I went to work at Lakewood Beach as a lifeguard. My cousin Gordy had worked for Doss and recommended me for the job, no doubt because my mother coerced him. (Gordy "Mr. Puls," taught junior high math for a few years at SWCS as we were getting ready to graduate and it was embarassing to run into Gordo in the hall).

It wasn't until I started the job that I realized that Doss was Pam Johnson's dad! (Pam Johnson from Lakewood.) She showed up at the beach one day and luckily I didn't start bitching about Doss right away.

If you came to the beach at all those first few years after we graduated, you would see the Doss-mobile - a metallic blue Corvair convertible with a small puddle of oil underneath it. It made trips up the hill to the American Legion several times a day so Doss could go 'check the mail.' He was the second guy I worked for who was a compulsive mail-checker. The other one was Dick Merleau (sp?) who owned Maple Bay Marina and had the nickname Martini Charley.

But Doss ran the beach with a stern hand and gave us lifeguards more authority than we probably should have had. I was a pretty skinny specimen to be a lifeguard that first year - though I did my share of pulling out people who couldn't swim. But the other part of lifeguarding - being able to order people to do things (or not do things) was better handled by guys like Dan Harp who intimidated people by sheer bulk.

When I had my first serious run-in with someone from (Gasp!) Jamestown, a fellow who outweighed me by at least 30 pounds and was probably three or four inches taller, Doss came out as I was about to get my head handed to me and said, "You forgot your wrench, Fitz." Then he handed me a shiny 14-inch Crescent wrench, one of several we used to put up the derrick and slide every spring.

His next words:

"If this guy takes a swing at you, hit him in the head with it."

Holy crap!

I didn't have to even raise the wrench, because a moment later - seeing that I was probably going to be required to demonstrate my forehand - Doss ordered my antagonist to haul his ass out of Lakewood Beach and never come back. For a few seconds, while this guy from Jamestown gave Doss the hard stare, I was afraid Doss was going to order me to whack him like a scene from Gladiator.

The guy left - mad and embarassed - and broke the radio antenna on the Doss-mobile on his way up the hill.

Although that was a tense moment in my lifeguard history, a year or so later I did something that really made my life flash before my eyes in a very different way.

Mr. Anderson, Mr. Gunnard Anderson from SWCS, a science teacher who many of us had in 7th or 8th grade, came to work for the Lakewood Recreation Department and would wander into the beach house from time to time to bullshit with Doss or flirt with the female lifeguards, the cashier and the gazillion other cute things wandering around in bathing suits. (It was a beach, remember?)

And Doss, of course, always called Mr. Anderson, Mr. Gunnard Anderson by the familiar sobriquet "Gunny."

Oh no!

Oh yes!

One day, it just came out of my mouth, a short sentence that a few years before would've made a life sentence at Guantanamo seem like a good alternative:

"Hey Gunny, how the hell ya doin' today?"

My fellow lifeguards dove for cover as if I had just told a gang of Hell's Angels that their motorcycles were shit and their women ugly.

But Mr. Anderson, Mr. Gunnard Anderson, Gunny Anderson just looked at me with shock and said, "Well, just fine, Mike. Just fine. How the hell are you doing?"

Breathe, breathe, breathe...

Lakewood Beach touched a lot of the Class of '66 in a lot of different ways and I'm sad to report that the slide and derrick that I built each spring (and tore down each fall) was taken out of service at least 20 years ago - no doubt the victim of a village nervous about liability.

Not a week went by that we didn't end up patching up kids who got hurt on the slide, and several times we got to borrow the Doss-mobile to drive kids to the WCA Hospital to get a few stiches.

We knew one thing when we drove to WCA: one drop of blood on the Doss-mobile seats and our passenger wouldn't be the only one who would need stitches.

Even if Gunny was your buddy.

Take a look at Marcia Carlson Hein's blog

SOMEWHERE IN BRITAIN - Marcia Carlson has put up a blog today that should prompt a few memories for everybody.

Me? I read it and decided that while I would love to sit here and reminisce about nearly 40 years ago, my kayak calls me - just like my boat used to call me in the early 1960s. The kayak is a little slower, but hell, so am I.

Work around the house in Lakewood? Ha! We would all go waterskiing and be as far away from our parents as possible.

Check out Marcia's blog at:
  • Marcia's blog