Saturday, January 25, 2014

On This Date in 1999 (January 25)

We got your letter today and were surprised to get another one so soon. Or maybe that’s just an indication of how quickly this month is passing. Today was so hectic that I almost forgot to order flowers from Ekey’s for your anniversary. I called around 3:30, our time, and after the woman who took my order asked me when I wanted them delivered, I could almost hear her breath a sigh of relief when I said “Tomorrow is fine.” I hope you are still enjoying them by the time you receive this serial letter. I’ll probably finish page one this evening, and then add little tidbits throughout the week, if I stick to my plan.

I saw the obituary for Glenn Greene. His son, Craig, was in my class, but he’s not someone that I knew that well. He never went out for sports in junior high, and in high school, I never remember seeing him at any of the dances or sports events. In my six years at Beaty and WAHS, we were never in the same class. Of course, back then, most of the courses were tracked, i.e., A for the achievers, B for the indifferent, C for the slow learners, although, for the purposes of this letter, I’m making up the terminology as we go along. Craig probably fit into the B category. I didn’t realize he was Bob O’Connor’s cousin, but I vaguely remember Bob and Craig hanging out with the same group of guys I think John Erickson, from church, was also part of that group.

The obituary mentioned that Mr. Greene was a member of the Conewango Club, but not the Conewango Valley Country Club. When I was growing up, I thought they were one and the same. Not having an inside track about Warren society, I don’t know if being a member of one and not the other has any significance. From the looks of their estate-like property – the long, winding driveway; the dense vegetation that obscured a view of the large house set back palatially from the street – I always figured the Greene’s were well-off. Craig, however, never exuded a rich kid’s aura of privilege, like a Matt Voigt or Robbie Loranger, for example. Despite the family business, Craig always struck me as a workingclass kid – unassuming, affected – at heart. Maybe a lot of it had to do with the decidedly unglamorous business his family owned.

Another classmate of mine lost a parent. Dorothea Hahn’s obituary appeared in the paper the same day at Mr. Greene’s. Walking through my memory banks, I’m trying to remember if Gloria Hahn was in the same group of classes as me in 7th grade: 1st and 5th period History and Geography, 2nd and 6th period English, 4th period Science, and 7th period Math. I clearly remember that we were both in Miss Bernhard’s 7th-period 8th grade history class. Gloria was a tall, plain, unexpectedly assertive girl who always got good grades, her name regularly appearing on the merit honor roll, but was somewhat lacking in the social graces. I don’t think she ever dated in high school and didn’t participate in many extracurricular and social school functions. It’s funny now when I think about how we used to stereotype kids that we didn’t know that well in high school, that weren’t part of our amorphous, sometimes shifting circle of friends. If we had sat around and catalogued our uninformed opinions, Gloria would have been selected for the old maids’ club. According to the 30th class reunion booklet, though, Gloria now has 3 children and 3 step-grandchildren. She probably got married right out of college, thereby confounding some of her classmates’ drab expectations for her future.

I met Gloria’s sister, Nan, when I worked at the Warren Public Library for a couple months in early 1976, just before moving to Springfield. She must have been a page, probably still in high school at the time. I can remember thinking to myself at the time, How can two sisters be so different. Nan was cute, outgoing, and very poised. “If only I were a few years younger” might have been another thought that crossed my mind. Let’s see, JoAnna had just turned 13 around this time.

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