Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Shelia and Roger,

We’re down to the wire this year, as you can see by the date. There was just too much to do before we left Middleton for the rest of the year. For the first time since the boys have been in school, Christmas break lasts for two weeks, and we decided that was plenty of time to make the trips to both Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and Warren, Pennsylvania. We have two more days in TR with the Richard family. The boys are excited because tonight is when we open our gifts. Andy is hoping to get a Playstation video game system, a wish granted, and Eddie will settle for anything Star Wars related. Another wish granted. As for me, I just want peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Yeah, right! Just like in Washington D.C.!

Speaking of politics, JoAnna is temporarily living the life of a stay-at-home Mom, an out-of-character role for her. She resigned her position as chair of the State Democratic Senate caucus after 3 years of enough stress that would last most people an entire career. She goes out on a high note, though, having won back the senate in this last election. She deserves a breather, as far as I’m concerned, and, financially, her decision won’t have an impact for awhile. She feels, and I agree with her, can afford to be choosy as to what she does next.

As for me, I finished my term as WLA president so now I can put a sharper focus on my Middleton responsibilities. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here almost 13 years. Of course, that pales against your longevity at OPL, Shelia.

We make the trip to Pennsylvania on Saturday, a 12-hour drive. I strained my back on Tuesday – don’t ask me how; probably lifting one too many Brandy Old-fashioneds –but I’m feeling almost back to normal right now so I should be able to put in my full time behind the wheel.

Maybe when I don’t feel so rushed for time, I can provide you with some more detailed coverage of what’s been going on with JoAnna and me and the boys. To quote a movie title, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but you’ d probably like to know the how and why!

Night Scene, Lakeview Paper Company, Neenah, Wis. (Postcard Series)

From the Paper Makers Journal, May-June 1921.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sky Line of Downtown Nashville, Tennessee (Postcard Series)


Photo credit:  Wikipedia

On This Date in 1998

Dear Barb,

This note will probably arrive in Warren the same time we do. We’ll be pulling into my parents’ driveway sometime during the early evening of the 26th. Our present location is Two Rivers, Wisconsin, where we are enjoying the company of most of the Richard family. Only Larry, who will be retiring in February after 20 years of service in the Navy, wasn’t able to make the trip.

This vacation is unusual in that we aren’t staying in our usual locations. In the past we’ve always stayed with Larry and Alice but this time we’ve checked into the Cindy Richard bed and breakfast in Manitowoc, just a few miles down the highway along Lake Michigan. In Warren, we’ll stay at Larry and Kim’s cabin on Valentine Run.

Earlier this year, I decided to subscribe to the Times Observer. I’ve been able to read about the ongoing library controversy, news which makes me so thankful that Middleton is so supportive of its library. I’m tempted to write a letter to the editor encouraging voters to dump their county commissioners. Those guys are a sequel to a movie: Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest. I always scan the obituaries. At least two dozen of my high school classmates have lost a parent this year. A number of my paper route customers have also passed on. The letters to the editor always seem to be printed in full. Occasionally I see a familiar face in a photograph: Mike Curren, Lynn Nobles, Andy Yurick.

I missed my high school reunion this year due to Andy’s very busy baseball schedule (both league and tournament play), but Rick Dies sent me an unsolicited copy of the booklet that the planning committee published. I’m surprised at how many people still living in the Warren. How come I never run into anyone ? Maybe I do but I don’t recognize them!

I received a birthday card from Mardi but her brief note gave me no idea of what is going on in her life. I take it she’s still with Rocky? I hope we can all get together next week and catch up on the details of our lives.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Gary and Kathy,

We weren’t able to synchronize our summer travel schedule with the reunion. Andy’s baseball schedule determined our itinerary, and the last weekend in July was reserved for a baseball tournament. I was able to enjoy a vicarious experience when Rick Dies unexpectedly sent me a copy of the booklet that the planning committee together. He mentioned that the turnout was below expectations but on a par with other class WAHS class reunions that have taken place recently. 

This note is coming to you from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, at the home of Alice and Larry Richard, JoAnna’s folks. We’ll be here through the 25th and then travel to Warren where we’ll spend a week. This is the first year since Andy has been in school that the Christmas break is scheduled for a full two weeks, so we are taking full advantage of it.

On Saturday, JoAnna and I were able to take a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan in weather more appropriate to Easter. Our walk today, though, will require full winter gear as the wind chill is below zero. 

The boys are excited because they’ll be able to celebrate Christmas twice this year. Eddie celebrated his 8th birthday on Saturday so this is a particularly lucrative time of year for him.

I’m still at the Middleton Public Library – in my 13th year now, by far the longest stretch I’ve been in any one job. I have plenty to keep me busy, both within and outside the walls of the library. This year I served as president of the Wisconsin Library Association. JoAnna is currently between jobs, by choice. The boys have quickly adjusted to a stay-at-home mom, previously a foreign concept to them.

Our boys are growing up so fast. Doesn’t everybody’s? Was it you or Bob and Mary Thompson who mentioned last year that you’ve entered the empty nest phase of your life? Maybe both of you have. We still have the teen years to endure.

On This Date in 1998

Dear Connie,

I passed the gavel to my successor on December 10th with a clear conscience and a clean record. No censure. No impeachment. No reporters hounding me about extramarital activities. I lead such a dull life.

In all seriousness, my year as president of the Wisconsin Library Association can be described with a warm bundle of positive adjectives: rewarding, productive, gratifying, enlightening. Even though we have entered a no-growth period in membership numbers, we were still able to expand the scope of our organizational activities and services. I’d like to think that this was the result of my eagerness to tap the right people to chair the various board committees. I’ve always felt that my ability to delegate responsibilities has been one of my greatest strengths.

Refresh my memory, but was it this year that I stumbled across Alma Jacobs obituary? She offered me my first job when I was fresh out of library school. No interview. Just, “Hello, how’d you like to be the librarian at the Montana State Prison?” I always thought that an M.L.S. would give me increased mobility, but going behind bars, actually having to be zapped through four different grill gates, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. But nobody else was knockin’ on my door in the mid-70s. Having lived in Great Falls for almost five years, from the fall of 1952 until the summer of 1957, I may have just wanted an opportunity to explore my past, which I did on the third or fourth weekend after my arrival in Deer Lodge. That walk through the old neighborhood was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I saw the world I remembered as a seven year old through the eyes of someone in his mid-20s. What a jarring juxtaposition. What seemed like a destination out of my childhood orbit was just a short walk away.

So what am I doing here? you must be wondering. I’m attempting to write a series of notes to special friends without repeating myself. As a result, for the past few days, I’ve been doing a major archaeological into my brain cells. What fun!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Chris,

Whether you like it or not, I keep coming back at-cha, year after year, one unsolicited Christmas greeting after another. You are one of a trio of people from the UB era of my life that I’m still in touch with, the others being Tony Szczygiel, the Colden Kid, and Michael Kanter, our Cambridge Massachusetts health food entrepreneur. Everyone else has fallen off the face of my earth. Remember Ralph Pearson? Jane Moy? Al Marmulstein? Eric Barr? There’s a lot of other faces I remember but too many names I can’t recall. Every once in awhile, I fantasize about an Allenhurst 1968-1970 block party reunion. But would I actually attend? This year I skipped by 30th high school reunion. The reason: Andy, our older son, was playing in a baseball tournament that weekend. Couldn’t get away. As it turned out, Andy and his teammates provided much better entertainment with their gutsy third place finish.

Are you eating your Flutie Flakes for breakfast every morning? Who’da thought that Mr. Hail Mary could bring back the Bills from the dead. Tomorrow I’m going to be rooting for them to pound the Jets deep into the ground. The Packers haven’t given us a whole lot to cheer about this year. The Wisconsin consensus is that Brett Favre was hungover during the first three quarters of the game against Tampa Bay. Our favorite colors right now are not green and gold. We’re now the ladies and gents in red. Go Badgers! My Rose Bowl prediction: Wisconsin 24, UCLA 7. It seems like the Pac 10 hasn’t been focusing on defense this season.

I heard this song tonight that instantly transported me back to our freshman year in college. JoAnna and I were on our way to a party, and she had tuned the radio to an oldies station, one that plays tunes primarily from the years 1964-1968. It was an instrumental, “Soulful Strut” by the Youngholt Unlimited. All these memories having to do with 482 and Norton and Diefendorf and Hayes Hall cascaded over my brain. It was a moment that was difficult to share with my wife since she was in kindergarten at the time. As one of my best friends blurted out minutes after meeting JoAnna, “Gee, Nellie, you really did rob the cradle!”

Obviously, this is not your typical Christmas letter. It’s an original. It’s spontaneous. Some might even say it’s an upchuck kind of experience. What it says is that I still think about you and our circle of friends and acquaintances after all these years. A reunion would really be an interesting experience.

The Venerable Charles W. Stone

From Warren centennial : an account of the celebration at Warren, Pennsylvania July 2d, 3d, and 4th in commemoration of the first century after the laying out of the town of Warren.     Charles W. Stone was member of the Assembly in 1868-69, State Senator in 1877 and 1878, Lieutenant-Governor 1878 to 1880, Secretary of the Commonwealth 1887 to November 1890, when he resigned to take his seat in Congress, having been elected to fill the vacancy caused by the death of L. F. Watson. He has been re-elected continuously since, and is Chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures.

And this is where he lived, on the corner of West Fifth Avenue and Liberty Street in Warren, PA.

Photo credit:  Retiring Guy

Construction was completed in 1905.

Friday, December 27, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Mardi,

Thanks for remembering my birthday, as you always do.  You make me feel like such a derelict.   Your birthday’s in March, right?  The 5th?  Am I close?  Anyway, next year I expect a big card for a very big event.  Can I say “50”?  Probably not without some  pained effort.

The boys and I made two trips to Warren this year, but no one outside of my family knew about it since I curiously and intentionally didn’t tell anyone else beforehand or contact anyone after our arrival.  Our visit in March was relatively short.  Four days, I think.   Most of my daylight hours were spent walking back and forth between my parents’ house and Beaty Field or the house and Jefferson schoolyard.  I was in constant demand to play basketball or catch.   On the way back to Wisconsin, we stopped in Chicago for two days, stayed at an expensive Lake Shore Drive hotel, and took in the sights.  Mostly museums, plus a trip to the top of the Hancock building, which absolutely fascinated the boys.  JoAnna stayed home as she was coordinating a special senate election and temporarily had no life outside of work.

In early August, a week after our high school reunion, we spent seven days in Warren, staying at Larry and Kim’s cabin on Valentine Run.  What an idyllic setting.  I just tuned out the world and focused on family and the 700-page book I was reading.  The boys and I did spend two day at Kinzua Beach, remembering to bring footwear the second day.    If I had called you, we could have traveled to Renee’s bat mitzvah together.  When JoAnna decided she couldn’t make the trip – gearing up for the general elections this time – I still considered making the trip to Lorain.  Once I settled into Warren, though, I told myself, I’m not driving anywhere until it’s time to return to Wisconsin.  Driving is not the joy it used to be.  And the boys aren’t to blame.  They are actually very good travelers.  Anyway, give me a big kick in the seat of the pants for missing this opportunity.  I have yet to apologize to Renee because I still feel like such an idiot, just like I did in 1970 when I missed her wedding.

I think part of my attitude of Warren aloofness has to do with our family situation.  Parkinson’s Disease keeps eating away at Dad’s physical and mental well-being.  The decline over the past couple years has been especially painful to observe, even from a distance of 700 miles.  Dad has great difficulty getting around on his own.  In fact, earlier this year the kitchen nook was transformed into a sleeping area for him.  He can’t negotiate stairs anymore.  During the day, he spends most of his time in a motorized upholstered chair, one that provides mechanical assistance in sitting down and getting up.  He’s almost always in a dozing position.  He gets easily confused; his mind, during moments of what now for him passes as lucidness, focuses on past events.  Last year during our December visit, he shuffled across the kitchen floor, stopped abruptly, and said, “I have to preach tomorrow at First Lutheran.”  Or he’ll talk about Mom in the third person and refer to some event that took place early in their marriage as if it were yesterday.  I’ve been meaning to read more about the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s, mostly to get a better understanding of how it affects the mind, especially in the later stages of the disease, which I suppose is where my dad must be by now.  It was 1990 when the first, very subtle , changes in his physical bearing became noticeable.  What really bugs me though is how little support Mom gets from the rest of her children.  I wanted to take her and the boys out to lunch, but Barb couldn’t be bothered to stay home and keep an eye on Dad.  There’s no way he can be left alone now.

Hey, great Christmas letter, huh?  Really upbeat.

Sorry about this self-indulgent rambling.

We’ll be in Warren from December 26th (the evening) through New Year’s Eve.  In fact, you and your mom are already aware of our upcoming visit.  (Yolanda probably, said, “If he’s not going to call me, I’ll call that runt myself!”  Again, the cabin will be our base of operations.  I will call this time, and when we get together, you can administer the appropriate punishment.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Dox,

What a surprise to hear from you last year. Adding you to our Christmas card list was a shot in the dark. Sorry I waited an entire year to respond.

I just enclosed a note in a card to Dave and Lynn, who now own lakefront property just north of Oshkosh. And that’s about all I know about their lives. We’ve been out of touch for a long time now. The last time I got together with them was at least 8 years ago. We still send them a card every year at Christmas even though they seem to have scratched us off their list. Most of my Oshkosh connections seem to have shorted out after nearly 13 years of inattention. The people I’ve stayed in touch with are all current or former Oshkosh Public Library employees. JoAnna and I have developed an active sports life as spectators, thanks primarily to Andy who now moves from one season to the next without a break. And only in 5th grade. Eddie takes a more cavalier attitude toward sports, preferring to create these fantastically detailed drawings with colored pencils and engage in creative play with his growing collection of Star Wars toys.

In general, things are going very well here.

War Memorial Building and State Capitol, Nashville, Tennessee (Postcard Series)

War Memorial Building time line

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dear Dave and Lynn

Well, Dave, we both a major event staring us in the face, a couple of birthday boys who will be reaching the half-century mark. We’ll be glad to help you celebrate. Sometimes I wonder where the time went. I come across a baby picture of Andy and think to myself, wasn’t that just yesterday. Why has he grown past his mom’s shoulders now? Then I think back to what I was doing before I moved to Wisconsin and realize I have lived a very full 49 years.

As you might suspect, we have become comfortably settled in Middleton. I still have plenty of new challenges to keep me busy (and focused) at the library. We’re happy with the house we’ve lived in for the past 11½ years and have no desire to move into more upscale digs, which seems to be the general pattern here. We’ll stick with our starter house, especially after all the work I’ve put into the yard.

JoAnna’s actually between jobs right now. A few weeks ago, she resigned as director of the State Senate Democratic Caucus, and plans to be a stay-at-home Mom for awhile, not the choice that most people would have put their money on. She’s has plenty of options, mostly in the area of lobbying, but she would like to stay involved in party politics. With our secure financial situation right now, she has the luxury of being choosy. At least until spring! Then I might get a little nervous. 

On a whim, I sent a card and letter to Dox last Christmas and actually got a response. He’s still in Ironwood, apparently living the Dox kinda lifestyle that we’re all so familiar with: working in restaurants (“I’ve also worked in at least half the restaurants in the area,” he reports.) and playing ball. He enclosed a 1992 clipping from the local paper: a photo of the softball team he played on for much of his UP career. He plays in an Oldtimers League (35 and older – hey, that’s young!). Here’s a quote underneath the headline, “Booby Hatch cops tourney.”

“Trailing 4-2 into the bottom of the eighth inning, George Boline smacked a drive over the leftfielder’s head for an inside-the-park homer. After one out Doug Doxsey stroked a drive in the right center gap for another in-the-park homer, tying the game.

It just goes to show there are some constants in life.

Sports has become an increasingly prominent aspects of my life. As a spectator. Andy, now 11 and in the fifth grade, observes the full cycle now. Basketball-soccer-baseball-football-basketball. Eddie is in a more manageable rotation: soccer and baseball, but then he’s only in 2nd grade.

Yes, life is different now. No darts. No softball. No bicycling, even. But it’s still as rewarding as it ever was.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Eric and Sally,

We do actually spend some time at home. The two times you called you reached our voice mail, and I meant to call back promptly if for nothing else than just to chat.

We dispensed with the one-size-fits-all letter format this year. Instead, as if I’m living a life of leisure, I assigned myself the duty of enclosing a personal note in each card without trying to repeat myself too often. That didn’t work with the relatives, on both sides of the family. My longhand notes informed them that we’ll be in Two Rivers for the first week of Christmas break and Warren during the second week and not much more. As I moved toward the heart of our Christmas card list, to the names of special friends, I decided to sit in front of the computer and just share whatever’s on my mind.

I talked with Paul Stearns last night. He’s living in the Eagle River area, working for the Commissioner of Public Lands. He’s developed a long-distance relationship with Sarah, who lives in Milwaukee. They were supposed to get married this year but postponed the ceremony since they couldn’t work out the details of a practical living arrangement. \

I spent an evening with LeRoy and Patsy Stahle this summer. I scheduled the June meeting of the Wisconsin Library Association board of directors, of which I was president this year, at the Oshkosh Public Library. They are both doing great, enjoying retirement, keeping busy. LeRoy looked like a Native American he was so dark from playing golf every day. What a life! (Only 15 years until my retirement. And, no, I’m not counting.)

As for the Schnozz, I haven’t heard from Pat and Vicki in over a year. When I read in some library publication that he had accepted the directorship of the Pikes Peak Library System in Colorado Springs last November (1997), I gave him a call and we chatted for a half hour or so. Up to that point, he had been doing a lot of consulting as well as guiding a successful building project to completion. I think they have two kids now. Actually, you may know more about them than I do. 

After five years of hanging upside down in the garage, the bicycles that JoAnna and I use were finally taken down off their storage hooks. Naturally, they both needed major tune-ups before being roadworthy. So how many rides did JoAnna and I take together this summer? Zero. Andy and I took a couple of short rides, but otherwise, the bikes leaned on their kickstands until last weekend when I returned them to their hooks. And when I think back on all the bicycling I used to do. Eric, I still consider our bike trip through parts of Wisconsin and Michigan to be one of the highlights of the 1980s. I hope that it won’t turn out to be the one and only two-wheeled excursion of my life. 

I’ll save more of the family stuff for a phone call. Stayed tuned.

"The Chapel", Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help and St. Francis Preparatory Novitiate, New Franken, Wisconsin. Route 1 (Postcard Series)

Then (postcard view)

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Hope

Now (Caritas en Veritate)

My Only Visit to the Busy Bee Restaurant in Warren PA 16365

The yellow arrow points to the only remaining ceiling tile from the many years when the restaurant wasn't a smoke-free environment.

Photo credit:  Retiring Guy

Although the Nelson family moved to Warren in August 1957, it wasn't until September 2013 when I made my first visit to The Busy Bee.  Back in the day, it wasn't the type of establishment where a  minister took his family.  In this regard, it was very much like the now-defunct New Yorker, with its martini glass neon sign illuminating the facade.

Monday, December 23, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Tina,

So did you head east to Warren, midsummer, for our 30th high school reunion? At the beginning of the year it was on a list of events I wanted to incorporate into my 1998 schedule. I was actually looking forward to it, somewhat of a surprise considering my rather lukewarm experiences at our 5th and 20th editions. I even imagined conversations with certain classmates: Gail Benson, Bill McGuckin, Melissa Vought. Don’t ask me why those names floated into my head.

Andy’s baseball schedule clarified our summer plans. He had a tournament scheduled for the last weekend of July, which, of course, coincided with our reunion. As it turned out, the boys and I were in Warren the following weekend, JoAnna’s ultimately successful efforts in reclaiming the state senate for the Democrats the reason for her staying home. (She’s the director of the state senate Democratic caucus.)

Once I realized I wouldn’t be attending the reunion, I wanted to get my hands on the booklet the planning committee prepares. I procrastinated for weeks, telling myself to write Rick Dies a letter. I had heard from my sister-in-law that attendance was below expectations. There’s gotta be some extra copies in someone’s closet, I figured. Guess what I received from Rick Dies one day in the mail in late August? Yes, the coveted booklet. I studied it carefully, eager to know who has grandchildren, who’s living the deluxe lifestyle, who doesn’t seem to have changed a bit since 1968. What really bowled me over – and this observation will give you an indication of just how carefully I reviewed the contents – is how many of our classmates still live in the Warren area. It’s easily more than 50%. I have to admit that I have come to appreciate Warren a lot more than I did in high school – its history, its architecture, its foothills setting – but I can’t imagine myself ever living there. During the 20 years I’ve lived in Wisconsin, I’ve become a tried-and-true Midwesterner, even though my Packer allegiance is still pretty weak.

What a strange Christmas letter, you must be thinking. Admittedly, it’s very self-indulgent, but it is inspired by you, Tina. I think it would be fun to talk on the phone some evening and catch up on each other’s life. Mine has been very good. JoAnna and I have a wonderful relationship and, as you can see from the enclosed photograph, we have two handsome boys who add so much to our lives. I hate to end this letter on a downbeat note, but I find that Mike (Foster) regularly walks through my thoughts. The last time I talked to him was in 1975, when he confessed to me that he way gay, a fact that I had been aware of, in an unspoken way, since the summer after high school.

I still miss him after all these years. In spite of all his idiosyncrasies and his high-maintenance personality, he was a wonderful friend.

I send along my sincere best wishes for the new year.

(Lost New York) Hotel Astor, Times Square, New York "The Crossroads of the World" (Postcard Series)

The Hotel Astsor opened in 1904 and closed in 1967. Construction of its replacement on the site, originally known as the W. T. Grant Building (headquarters of the now-defunct retailer), started in 1968. The gleaming building is now known as One Astor Place.

Photo credit:  Wikipedia (OptimumPx)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Frieda Dahler Mansfield (1922-2013) Warren High School Class of 1941

Warren Times Observer obituary

Warren High School Dragon yearbook (1941)

Best year:  1896 at #141.
Ranking the year Frieda Dahler was born:  #274.

A big hit when the class of '41 graduated.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Jim and Arden,

JoAnna and I decided we weren’t going to send a “form” letter this year, but I quickly tired of jotting down the same note, with slight variations every once in awhile, on the inside of every card. So now I really have my work cut out for me just a week before Christmas. I plan to write a personalized note to the special people on our mailing list. The library “business” is going well. I just finished my year as president of the Wisconsin Library Association. It was a productive and rewarding year with no crises or controversies.. I still have another year to serve on the WLA board before I finish my commitment. On the local front, the library received in 10% budget increase for 1999, thanks to a very supportive city council who collectively felt it was time to add another librarian to the staff, provide a substantial increase to the book budget, and allow us to offer Sunday hours.

JoAnna is taking the month of December off. She resigned her position as director of the state Democratic caucus and is currently considering a number of new job possibilities. Much of her free time this year, what little she’s had, has been devoted to research on her family tree, whose roots extend back to the year 1646 in Nova Scotia (Acadia).

As you can see from the enclosed picture, the boys are growing up all too quickly. Andy’s just starting to get into music, and, unlike my parents when I was 11years old, I actually enjoy much of the music he likes. In small doses, of course. Eddie is our artist, who work was featured on the September page of the school district calendar this year.

I may have mentioned this last year, but I really enjoy using Merriam-Webster’s website. It’s amazing what an important resource the Internet has become for libraries in just the last few years. It certainly hasn’t had a negative impact on library use overall. Our circulation may be flat this year, but the number of visits is up significantly. And now, a lot of reference questions start out, I tried looking for _____ on the Internet, but I couldn’t find anything.

Friday, December 20, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Mary and Bob,

It was my intention, if not a resolution, to attend our 30th high school reunion this year. Baseball interfered. It seems like the summer before 5th grade is when sports for kids take a big step up nowadays. Andy played on two teams this year, one in a recreational league and another for which he had to try out. The second team involved not league play but tournaments and, of course, one of them was scheduled on the last weekend of July.

I heard through the grapevine, i.e., Larry and Kim, that attendance at the reunion was below expectations. Rick Dies sent me a copy of the booklet around the time I was thinking of writing him to ask if there might be any extra copies lying around. I had an enjoyable time browsing through it and reminiscing about our classmates, some of whom had drifted out of my consciousness to the point that I could barely remember what they looked like. (Unfortunately, my yearbooks disappeared years ago.) I was surprised at what a large percentage of our classmates still live in the Warren area. How come I never run into anyone at the mall or on Liberty Street or at the Dairy Queen when I’m there?

I started to subscribe to the Warren Times Observer this year so I’ve been able to read about all the problems the library is encountering. Makes me thankful that Middleton is so supportive of its library. We actually received a 10% increase in the budget for 1999, which means more staff and Sunday hours.

We’ll be in Warren from December 26th through the 31st. Visits home are bittersweet now that Dad is debilitated by Parkinson’s Disease. His mobility is limited to the first floor of the house, and Mom serves as his nurse and caretaker. Sometimes I wonder why my brothers and sister can’t do a little more, but – hey – this is Christmas. No time for family feuds.

We need to be on the road New Year’s Day since Andy’s basketball season begins at 9 a.m. on the 2nd. Two games each weekend through the end of February. We hope to be able to tune in the Rose Bowl game on the radio. (Go Badgers!) Best wishes to you and your families!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weborg Point Camping Grounds, Peninsula State Park, Wis. (Postcard Series)

Peninsula State Park

On This Date in 1998

Dear Tom and Mim,

We were so pleased that you could make it to our Bastille Day party in July. It’s an annual event, so you might want to keep an open space on your calendar for July 10th and 17th. We haven’t picked a date yet, but I would lean toward the 17th since it gives people a breather from the Fourth of July holiday.

Speaking of which, from the note enclosed in Don and Carolyn’s Christmas cards, it appears there’s a Nelson family reunion in the works. No details were provided. It sounds like a great idea, and I hope we’ll be able to help to get it off the ground. Friends of ours, who live just a couple blocks from Warner Park in Madison, always host a party on the day of the Rhythm and Booms fireworks display. We eat, play bocce ball, play cards, eat some more, watch the spectacular show from their front yard – and then spend two hours in traffic. But we don’t have to do that every year.

The four of us will be spending the second week of Christmas break in Warren. In order to make things easier on Mom, we’ll stay at Larry and Kim’s cabin – their retirement home actually. It’s located about 5 miles north of Warren in a beautifully secluded setting. Earlier this year, the kitchen nook was transformed into a bedroom for Dad. He became too unsteady trying to go up and down the stairs. Especially during the past two years, Parkinson’s has taken a particularly heavy toll on his physical and mental well-being. I’m so thankful that Mom still has her health and good spirits. You’ve never guess it to look at her, but she turned 78 in October. \

Let’s target the end of March as a deadline for when we get together and go out to dinner. We talked about this with Carolyn and Jim this summer, and I hate to have us let this opportunity slip by. It’s so easy, though, for us to get focused on what’s going on in our immediate lives.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The House of the Seven Gables (Postcard Series)

I like the view below better, taken by Retiring Guy on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, when the temperature was closing in on 100 degrees.

The House of the Seven Gables

On This Date in 1998

Dear Marian,

The new year promises some exciting developments for the Middleton Public Library. For the first time in my 12½ years as director, the city council gave us everything we asked for in our annual budget proposal. More money for library materials. Increased staffing. We’ve already advertised, via South Central and Wisconsin library listservs, openings for a Young Adult Services Librarian (3/4 time) and a Library Assistant II (25 hours per week). We plan to initiate Sunday hours on March 7. The library will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. during the school year. Both Monona and Sun Prairie will also start offering Sunday hours next year. Sun Prairie, by the way, is moving into a new library in April.

There are now 30 members of LINK, South Central’s automation consortium. Columbus will be joining in 1999. We generally have about 40 people at our business meetings, which means that most libraries can no longer host these gatherings. South Central and WLA offices are now located in a business park across the Interstate from East Towne, where they share a large meeting room space. Most of our meetings are held there.

Although Sheila has been retired for a year and a half, we still see her on a regular basis. She enjoys spending time with her granddaughter and taking her to the library.

Joel DeVore retired in August. As much as I liked Joel personally, I always felt he was much too lowkey as a city administrator. So did the city’s personnel committee. They had a particular type of individual in mind when they looked for a replacement. And they found him. Mike Davis, who started in November, had previously been the city administrator at Evansville, WI. In the (not quite) two months he’s been on board, I’ve attended more city department head meetings than during the previous ten years. All of a sudden, there is direct communication among and between departments. It’s a refreshing change.

Hope life is treating you well. Best wishes from all your library colleagues here!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Dear Michael, Elizabeth & family,

Our trip to New England keeps getting pushed farther into the future. This year our only family vacation is taking place the last two weeks of the year. That gives you an indication of how hectic things have been. We are spending a week in Two Rivers (WI) with JoAnna’s family and a week in Warren, Pennsylvania, where my parents (and 2 brothers and sister) still live.

I just finished my year as president of the Wisconsin Library Association. I’m in my 13th year as director of the Middleton Public Library and plenty of challenges still abound. My latest project is developing a plan to expand library services into 10,000 square feet of unfinished space on the lower level.

JoAnna just resigned her position as director of the State Senate Democratic caucus after a very busy 3 years in that position, including two special elections, toward the end of which I began to feel like a single dad. She’s giving up the stress and long hours of this job for the stress and long hours of something yet to be determined. She has plenty of options to consider.

The boys keep busy with the usual array of kids’ activities. Andy already has a year-round sports schedule. No overlap yet. Eddie continues to amaze us with his artistic abilities. He’s always drawing.

After nearly 30 years, the connection to the UB era of my life has been reduced to a few names I send a piece of mail to on an annual basis. There’s the two of you, Tony & Andrea, and Chris Lauer. I still look back on those years fondly, but, at the same time, am very happy to be where I am now!

Best wishes. Hope we can connect face-to-face sometime in the not-too-distant future, at least while we’re still ambulatory.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Robert Hammerbeck (1926-2013) Warren High School Class of 1945

Warren Times Observer obituary

Warren High School Dragon yearbook

The Popularity of Robert as a Baby Name: 1880-2012.  The #1 most popular boy's name in 1926.

Other Roberts in the class of 1945.  (98 boys in the class)
  • Robert "Bob" Betts
  • Robert "Chris" Christensen
  • Robert "Herk" Frederick
  • Robert "Bob" Johnson
  • Robert"Bob"  Knapp
  • Robert "Bob" Lundberg
  • Robert "Irish" Scalise
  • Robert "Bob" Swick
  • Robert "Snork" Uhr
  • Robert "Hotch" Wilder

The #1 song in June of 1945.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oldest Wind Mill on Cape Cod, Mass. (Postcard Series)

On This Date in 1998

Another beautiful day. The temperature must be in the mid-50s right now, but I haven’t been outside except to walk to Walgreen’s to pick up some pictures. I completed my outdoor chores yesterday. I could rearrange the perimeter area of the garage, which we use for storage and clean out some of the junk in the shed to make room for the trunk I bought almost 20 years ago. That will free up some space in the back hallway for a bookcase. We also plan to attach a few shelves to the wall, one with hooks to hang the boys’ backpacks and other stuff.

JoAnna is having some friends over this afternoon for a baking party, so I went grocery shopping this morning so she’d have enough of all the basics: flour, white sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, pecans. I also stopped at Barnes & Noble hoping to accomplish some Christmas shopping. I found a book on Cajun cookery for JoAnna. I’ll have to look elsewhere for the other two people still left on my list. JoAnna wanted me to buy a couple replacement kitchen chairs at Shopko, but what they have in stock doesn’t match what we currently have. Plus, I saw a corner seating unit with table, both made of pine, that would look very nice in our kitchen. I thought it was a pretty good buy for $300, but I haven’t made the purchase yet. Had to run it by the wife first. She gave the idea a thumbs up.

Right now Eddie is watching a Muppet version of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. JoAnna is getting things set up in the kitchen and watching the Packers play their usual brand of mediocre football, and Andy is wondering why it is taking Rex and his family so long to return home from buying a Christmas tree. The pictures I picked up at Walgreen’s earlier today are reprints of two shots of the boys that we will enclose with our Christmas cards. (One per customer. I just couldn’t decide which one was better.) I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to compose a Christmas letter. I may just decide to wrote short personal notes in each card. That project will get underway as soon as I sign off here. 

And I guess it’s time to do so now. 

This will likely be your last letter from us this year, as next week at this time we’ll be in Two Rivers, enjoying the start of a two-week family vacation. See you on the 26th! We’re looking forward to our visit.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Today the weather was more suitable to a day in October and, consequently, I found myself doing chores that were similarly more suitable to a day in October. Like washing the windows. When I tackled this chore earlier in the fall, I kept bypassing the window in the utility room (by the dryer). That finally got cleaned today, as well as the picture window, on which the morning sunlight revealed a hazy film; the front storm door window, full of fingerprints from you probably know who; the exterior glass of the windows by the dining area and kitchen, which always dirty up the fastest since they face the driveway; the windows on the side doors; and the sliding glass door in the family room, another prime location for fingerprints. I practically worked my way around the house this morning. After lunch, I pruned some of the shrubs at the front entrance and next to the patio. While I was outside, the only additional clothing I wore was a sweatshirt, even though the temperature probably didn’t exceed 50 degrees. What helped is that the sky remained clear all day. 

JoAnna spent five hours at the State Historical Society library researching her family history, a project she’s been working on for a couple years now. Today she found her great-grandparents marriage certificate and the U.S. census with information about her great-great-grandparents. We’ll have to make sure we bring along a copy of JoAnna’ s family tree on our visit. It’s a ten-page document entitled “Descendents of Marie Bourg”, who was born in 1646 in Port Royal, Acadia (Nova Scotia). To allow her to organize the information she gathers, JoAnna uses a software program called Family Tree Maker. Do you know if any of the Nelsons or Luthgrens have done any extensive genealogical research? Andy spent much of the day at Rex Johnson’s house. Rex has a Playstation video system, which Andy seems to be pretty convinced that he’s getting for Christmas. All the gifts we bought so far are wrapped and arranged in front of the fireplace. I wonder if Andy and Eddie have done some peeking? How shocking!! Kids consumed with curiosity over what they are getting for Christmas!! Eddie spent the morning sacked out on the couch in the family room watching TV. He was in a total stay-at-home frame of mind. I encouraged him to play outside for awhile, put on his rollerblades, DO SOMETHING other than act like a vegetable. To no avail. During the afternoon, he watched The Return of the Jedi, the last of the Star Wars trilogy, simultaneously making up his own storyline with his growing Star Wars toy collection. We had a traveling supper on Saturday, i.e., Dad went to three different restaurants to fill everyone’s order. Andy wanted two tacos from Pasqual’s, Eddie his usual chicken McNuggets Happy Meal, and Mom felt like Chinese, which was fine with me. For the second Saturday in a row, the boys stayed home alone. JoAnna and I went to a surprise farewell party for a woman who worked with JoAnna and is moving to Corpus Christi, Texas, next week. We were gone for four hours and returned to a house not too much the worse for wear.

Newberry Library, Chicago (Postcard Series)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

On This Date in 1998

With JoAnna away from home through Wednesday evening, the first half of this week, starting with Sunday evening, was another experience in single parenthood. Sunday is bath night, and sometimes that can result in a struggle trying to get the boys focused on getting ready for bed after a weekend of staying up later than usual and doing pretty much whatever they want (within the bounds that Mom and Dad set, of course!). Minutes before bedtime, I usually ask the question, “Did you brush your teeth?” at least three times. Sometimes I even demand an inspection. A puff of their breath in my face. That wasn’t necessary Sunday night. 

Monday was a fairly typical day. I got the boys off to school without a hitch. Andy rode his bike, as he is still able to do at this point in December with no snow on the ground. The temperature was in the 20s, but I made sure he had his winter jacket, hat and gloves on. Eddie opted for a ride. It felt odd dropping him off in the van. JoAnna had driven the car to Two Rivers. 

Eddie had a cub scout pack meeting Monday night from 6:30 to 7:45. I let Andy watch about three quarters of the Packer game. Not a pretty sight. It looks as though Green Bay will stumble into the playoffs and then probably trip on their faces in their first game. Even with all the injuries, I can’t believe that Brett Favre allows himself to get so rattled during games. Can he look any worse than he did this past Monday? If so, the Packers may not even make the playoffs. Actually, a Bears upset on Sunday would not surprise me. 

I noticed a report in one of the local papers about the energy demand in Wisconsin Monday evening. It set a record for the winter season. A utility spokesperson attributed it to all the TVs tuned to Monday Night Football (what about the accompanying heavy use of microwaves to make popcorn and het up Cheez Whiz for nachos?) as well as the abundance of icicle lights this year. To put it colloquially, those babies suck a lot of energy. Speaking of Christmas decorations, we haven’t done much of anything yet this year. We do have a wreath on the front of the house and our stocking are “hung by the chimney with car” but otherwise, no tree, no lights around the fireplace mantel, no crèche. Since we plan to be gone for the last two weeks of the year, putting up a tree was never a consideration, although JoAnna did causally suggest that we buy an artificial free. I’m not exactly Mr. Deck the Halls, so any further signs of the season at our house will be the result of JoAnna’s efforts. 

Back to our review of the week. 

Andy has band practice at Kromrey Middle School on Tuesday morning, which requires an earlier than usual departure from the house. Usually, JoAnna drops him off on her way to work. This time I had to provide the taxi service while Eddie remained mummified in a blanket on his bed. Kromrey is less than a mile from the house. Can you imagine the outburst if I had told Andy he needed to walk there? 

Andy interrupted my workday in the middle of the afternoon, right after he got out of school, and asked that I drive him to Zany Brainy, a toy store in Madison, part of a new chain that seems to be giving Toys R Us a run for its market share. “You promised me yesterday that I could get a yo-yo today,” he reminded me. And I admit that I did speak those words. I gave him $15 for babysitting Saturday night, and he was eager to spend part of his earnings on what appears to be a revived fad among gradeschoolers. For whatever reason, I don’t know. Is there some TV show that has made yo-yos all the rage? You can’t even check out a book on yo-yos in the library. Every title has waiting list. I tried to weasel out of this commitment because my workday, which is usually pretty flexible on a Tuesday afternoon, needed my primary attention, but I figured a half-hour absence from the library was better than hearing Andy whine for the rest of the day.

At first, I thought I was going to have to juggle taxi service and a work commitment that evening. A Winter Sing, a 1990s-era substitute for the no longer fashionable 1960s-era Christmas celebration, was scheduled at Elm Lawn School. The band was on the program, scheduled to play a few songs, so Andy had to be at the gym by 6:45, fifteen minutes after the start of my library board meeting. He managed to hitch a ride with Meaghan. I was ready to worry about supervision if Eddie wanted to attend the Winter Sing, too, but fortunately, he expressed no interest. His mind was focused on something much more important to him. He reminded me, when I picked him up at school, that I had promised to buy him a Star Wars toys at the local Walgreen’s. (I must look like an easy mark to my sons. I wonder if they plot these scams together.) Now I truly don’t remember this conversation. But then I thought, “This will be a good way to bribe some good behavior out of Eddie.” He was literally buzzing with excitement as we entered the store. He ran straight to the toy section while I wondered how many people he was going to knock over as he barreled his way to the back of this favorite aisle. The store was jammed with people. Eddie made a remark a couple years ago, the exact circumstances I can no longer remember, that is as meaningful today as it was then. “Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about Star Wars.” \

If I hadn’t bought him the toy beforehand, I probably would have done so after the board meeting, which lasted until a few minutes past 8:00. Eddie was an angel. He didn’t look for me once, which would have meant interrupting the meeting, and the staff wasn’t even aware of his existence after they saw him walk through my office toward the children’s area. He either quietly paged through books or played games on the computer we have set up for kids. Andy didn’t get home until nearly 9:00, by which time I had helped Eddie with his reading, about 4-5 pages of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. 

As JoAnna was planning to return home before the end of the day, I considered Wednesday pretty much of a normal day from the start. The only evening commitment I had was to pick up Andy, Drew, and Riley at basketball practice at 7:30. I thought JoAnna would be home from a Dane County Airport Commission meeting by that time. I kept waiting for the floodlight to illuminate the driveway, announcing her arrival, but the darkness persisted. Eddie sometimes complains about having to leave the house when he is settled in for the evening, but with the No-TV-on-school-nights rule in effect, he was ready to think about staying home in quiet house at night. The car was in the driveway when we returned home. The boys and I were very happy to have Mom back home. 

Thursday evening Eddie’s scout troop had scheduled a family night at Fast Forward, a roller-skating rink. We all went along, but I stayed on the sidelines, as did the majority of parents it seemed. I have no problem with ice skating, probably because I did so much of it on the flooded tennis courts at Beaty Field when I was a kid. Even when we took the boys ice skating for the first time a couple years ago, I strapped on a pair of skates and hit the ice (almost) as if there was nothing more than a snap of the fingers between 1962 and 1986. Roller skating is a different story. (I’ve yet to wear a pair of rollerblades.) I feel as though I’m standing on the top of a 10-foot stepladder with wheels, about the lose control. The last time I went roller skating, two or three years ago, I practically dragged my right hand along the wall for support. I just couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm. I should get pair of rollerblades so I could join the boys on their neighborhood jaunts and to build up my confidence on little wheels. I’ll have a long way to go to catch up to Eddie. You should see him motor around the rink. He hardly took a break from the greased-lightning ovals he made around the perimeter, then the interior section of the floor. He was all over the place and looked very confident, always able to avoid what looked to be a sure bump here or push there. Maybe I should look for a roller hockey league for him to play in. He looks like a natural. I’ve always considered Andy as being much more athletic than Eddie, but rollerblading is one sport where Eddie is at least his brother’s equal.

Monday, December 9, 2013

St. Andre's Church and Rectory, Biddeford, Maine (Postcard Series)

The last mass.  (Portland Press-Herald, 1/1/2011)

A victim of church consolidation.  The pews were filled for the last Mass at St. Andre, a massive brick church on Bacon Street built 100 years ago to serve the city's burgeoning French-Canadian population. It's striking neoclassical interior, with rounded arches, domed ceilings and heavenly murals, was decked for the holidays with a manger scene, poinsettias, evergreen garlands and white lights. 

Old church could be youth hub. (Sun-Chronicle, 7/25/2013)

Site includes rectory, convent, and 3-bay garage. The century-old St. Andre Catholic Church, on the corner of Sullivan and Bacon streets in downtown Biddeford, has sat empty for almost three years. Now, there’s a plan afoot to purchase the church, and the other buildings on the property, and convert them into spaces for local nonprofit youth service organizations.

Biddeford is located 15 miles southeast of Portland on I-95.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

On This Date in 1998

Here it is a couple days into the workweek and I haven’t finished this letter. This will probably be a quick wrap-up. 

We literally feasted on Saturday night at the Vandoroses. Eileen prepared quite a meal. The appetizers included avocado cream cheese/scallion dip with corn chips, tsatziki cucumber/yoghurt dip with sourdough bread, Tunisian vegetable phyllo pastries, and greens & gruyere phyllo pastries. These were followed with an African peanut chicken soup, unusual but very tasty. The salad course was a Greek salata with feta cheese. We were served two main courses: a vegetarian lasagna and lamb and artichoke avgolemono with rice. We allowed some time to pass before eating dessert, which was a pumpkin cream cheese torte. We didn’t get home until 11:45. The boys had fallen asleep in our bedroom, the only room of the house that was dark. Otherwise, they had turned on every single light. 

For JoAnna’s birthday, we cooked out, even though the warm weather had left us. In fact, while the steaks were on the grill, the serving plate was collecting a layer of snow. Baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and a tossed salad completed the meal. We had carrot cake and ice cream for dessert. JoAnna thanks you for the jewelry; she really likes it. And she’s very pleased with the athletic club membership I gave her. She left for Two Rivers around 5:30 and will be back home tomorrow evening.

Well, I want to get this letter in the mail before the end of the day. We send you our love.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Silver Lake Court, 3 1/2 Miles West of Angola, Ind. On U.S. 20 (Postcard Series)

Vintage Roadside

On This Date in 1998

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and JoAnna just returned home from a workshop in Milwaukee. That means she was gone all day, of course. Andy was at a friend’s house from 9:30 until 2:00, so Eddie and I kept Boxer company. 

What did I do today? Not much. A couple loads of laundry. A quick trip to the post office to mail some bills. I started to read a book that I quickly lost interest in, When the Bough Breaks by James Patterson, an author of best-selling mysteries. I had a bad feeling about this book from the start. A 300-page novel with more than 100 chapters? The author must suffer from attention deficit disorder, I figured. Actually, as I quickly discovered, the author can’t write. It was a chore reading the first 20 pages. Disgustedly, I tossed it aside and watched the UCLA-Miami football game for awhile. 

Earlier in the week, I had promised Andy I’d take him to see The Waterboy, a comedy starring Adam Sandler, Hollywood’s current box-office draw. We went to the 3 o’clock showing this afternoon. I’d call it a perfect movie for 11 year olds, a variation of the 3 Stooges kind of humor. Eddie enjoyed it, too. As for Dad, it wasn’t nearly as bad as any of the Mighty Ducks movies. I actually found it mildly amusing. 

Andy plays his first basketball game at 9 a.m. on January 2nd. That means we’ll have to leave Warren on New Year’s Day and miss watching the Rose Bowl. That was JoAnna’s first reaction when I showed her the schedule. His team plays two games every weekend for eight weeks, usually on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Then they play in a tournament in early March. It’ll be more than twice the number of games he played last year. 

Yesterday was JoAnna’s last day in her current job. It’s hard to get a sense of whether she’s relieved about this part of her career being over or concerned over what she does next. Bill Broydrick, for whom JoAnna used to work as a lobbyist, called her yesterday, so there’s a chance she could go back to her previous job. 

Our warm spell is into its second week. JoAnna went golfing on Wednesday, and I just heard the weatherman on one of the local TV stations say that he was out on the link today. (JoAnna’s surfing right now, unable to find anything good on TV.) One day this week Wisconsin had the warmest temperature ever for December. Looks like we’re going to see a return to normal sometime tomorrow, as a cold front is predicted to move in. 

We all went to a Christmas party last night at Ron and Julie’s,friends of our who live on the east side of Madison. JoAnna and Eddie left the house at 6:30, not wanting to wait around for Andy’s basketball practice to end. It was my turn to pick up the boys. Even though their practice was over at 7:30, we didn’t leave the school until 8:00 since half the team stayed around to play a game of “Lightning”. Andy and I didn’t arrive at the party until 9:00. Outside of a 10-month-old, Andy and Eddie were the only kids in attendance, but they watched videos in one of the upstairs bedrooms. We left at 10:30, at Andy’s insistence. Neither JoAnna nor I minded since it wasn’t much of a party. Just people standing around talking and drinking and eating. 

Tonight JoAnna and I are attending a dinner party hosted by the previous president of the library board and her husband. Andy will earn $9 as our “built-in” babysitter, $3 an hour. 

The city council passed the budget Tuesday night with the library requests intact. As a result, we’ll be able to add Sunday hours to the schedule beginning March 7. The library will be open from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m . during the school year, i.e., from the Sunday after Labor Day to the Sunday before Memorial Day weekend. We’ll be hiring a ¾-time Young Adult Services Librarian, the first new professional position during my tenure as library director, and a ½-time Library Assistant II, as well as more page hours. Overall, the library budget will increase by 10%, to about $750,000. 

Andy wasn’t too happy with his mom and dad earlier this week. He wanted to be able to play with his friend Tim after school in Wednesday, but we both told him that he had to come home directly. JoAnna called me at work around 4 o’clock to tell me that Andy hadn’t returned home yet. (She got home early after playing 18 holes of golf.) Although JoAnna didn’t ask me to do anything, I left the library to conduct a search. I didn’t see Andy’s bike at Tim’s house, but I did spot it near the playground equipment at Elm Lawn School. Andy was close to defying me when I told him he had to go home. Tim betrayed a confidence. “Andy said he doesn’t care if he gets grounded,” a remark Andy denied making. JoAnna was very upset with Andy, but I told her his behavior wasn’t at all unusual. In fact, he and Tim were talking on the phone a couple times Tuesday evening, and it was then when Andy first asked me if he could go to Tim’s house after school. He didn’t like my negative response and ended up doing something about it the next day. I could see myself, as an 11 year old in the same situation, doing the exact same thing. And the start of the teenage experience is still two years away!