“Okay, class. Open your books and choose a song. I would like to hear you sing.”
After giving us a few minutes, Elizabeth Few strolls around the classroom and calls on us in alphabetical order.
Arriving at the F’s, she nods at you.
“Mike? Your turn.”
Holding the book in front of you, you start to sing:
“I went to the animal fair. The birds and the beasts were there….”
Suddenly, hearing your deep, gravelly voice, all of us explode in a chorus of giggles. But, hearing your own croaky voice, you laugh loudest of all. As I watch you laugh at yourself, it dawns on me.
Dear Diary, I’m in love.
Yanking off a sheet of paper from my spiral notebook, I scribble a note — about my budding desire — and stick it in my purse.
Music class over, we line up, single-file, to return to home-room, Wanda Nail’s class. On the way to my seat, I slip the note on top of the books stacked in your desk.
“Okay, class,” Mrs. Nail says. “Turn to Chapter Five in your social-studies books…..”
As I pull out my book, I watch you discover the note. After reading it, you flash me a goofy grin. Pop go the killer dimples.
From that point on, the lesson — about the pyramids of Egypt — is lost on me. Ms. Nail’s voice, kicked up to 78 rpm in my ears, sounds like Porky Pig. I have only one thing on my mind: you.
Thirty minutes later, the lesson ends. Time for afternoon recess.
Time to make my move.
Eastern Hills High School
1963 and 1964
How time whizzes by! Junior high was nothing but a blur!
Even though we travel in different circles, now, you’re quick-on-the-draw with that winning grin when we pass in the hallway.
It seems you’re everywhere — football, track, relay. Sophomore Class President, Junior Favorite Finalist. Look up the word phenomenal and there’s your picture.
Here I am, back in California for the first time since 1974. I feel so incredibly blessed to be here for you.
Thanks to the thoughtfulness of your co-worker, Leslie Tuel, who has opened her guest cottage to me while I’m here, I get to visit with you and Kathy before the big event, a hoedown in your honor at her home, on Sunday: In an hour, we make up for lost time, talking about our days at Meadowbrook Elementary and Junior High and Eastern Hills. Before we leave, that night, you sign my annuals.
February 2009-May 2011
Every weekend, I look forward to your Saturday-morning cheer in the same way I once looked forward to the cartoons or the Gateway Theater matinees with my friend, Tonya Woolbright. Your tales about Adam and Nicole, Michele, Evan and Emily, and your dogs are warm my heart and make me glad I’m alive.
June 5, 2011
Four days ago was your Homecoming Day. I can imagine you — holding a gleaming, gold trophy — reward for a job well done.
As I wrap up this blog celebrating your life, I re-read the note you scrawled in my 1964 Clan: “See you at the Gateway Theater on Friday night.”
Save me a seat at the front.