Sunday, January 13, 2013
A Stinkin' Lincoln Moment or Two
I could not see the face clearly in the hallway lighting. Shadows were distorting its clarity.
So after hearing, "Hi Marianne," followed by "Don Hadley," I was relieved.
As he walked closer, I recognized the face, a face that has changed little since we first knew each other 59 years ago as first graders at Lincoln Elementary School.
Hard to believe, but, at 65, Don has aged very well, indeed. Maybe a hint of gray hair under that baseball cap and those glasses that he did not wear in grade school.
Other than that, he appears to be putzing along through life quite well.
We had a nice visit and, later, his brother Scott showed up. Hadn't seen him in years, so we did some catching up and then went on our way.
I always love chance meetings with my first-grade classmates. A rather good bunch, I must say.
When I think about that time SO long ago, stunning moments in my personal timeline come to mind.
Of course, the most powerful memory of that year has to be the jet crashing into the pole yard just two blocks away, just as I, as row monitor, was bent over at a bookcase putting away a pile of workbooks for the day.
That moment when our school windows shattered is transfixed forever, as is the image of sitting on our school bus after the event, stuck in a traffic jam of cars making their way down Boyer in front of the school. Nervous parents and townspeople were driving to the scene.
TV images of frantic parents arriving at the the Connecticut school massacre in December reminded me of that sight so long ago.
Another personal event, which has come into my own conversation lately---the third grader who knocked me down on the playground and the resulting bloody knee.
I still have the scar to show for it. These days I'm wondering who the heck that kid was and why he shoved me. Though the scar remains a vivid reminder, the rest is all a blur.
I also think of faces from our first grade picture, faces whom I haven't seen in a million years, it seems----Ronnie Swanson, Patricia Rash, Doyle Erickson.
One wonders whatever happened to those folks and where their life stories have taken them.
A few faces no longer appear out of nowhere to say, "Hi, Marianne." Karen Fredstrom, Mike Willer and Smokey Chubb, for example, have sadly passed on.
Smokey, better known to us as "Arthur, " was a teacher favorite all through our grade school years. He always got to run the projector for Mrs. Ekholm.
Getting to run the projector signified a great status symbol in grade school.
Later, for me as a teacher, getting to run projectors or any kind of obstinate tech equipment in front of a class of students often signified frustration cuz I was never very good in "audio-visual" aids class at college.
Maybe if I'd gotten to run the film projector at Lincoln School it would have been different. Maybe Smokey got to run the projector because those grade-school teachers felt exactly like I did during my career.
Speaking of audio-visuals, I also wonder if kids still have any opportunities to make rabbit silhouettes with their fingers. Hope that hasn't become a lost art in the past 60 or so years.
Anyway, when Don said hello and introduced himself in that shadowy hallway yesterday, I felt a little more at home than usual.
That's how it is, it seems, with any appearance of faces who built life's foundations together.
We all move on and separate ourselves by miles, time and experiences.
Whenever we meet again, though, the memories of airplane crashes, skinned knees and group pictures of our awkward or perfectly groomed selves on the steps of the school, remind us of an everlasting and comforting common bond.
Yes, it was good to see Don Hadley yesterday, just as it's good to see all my first-grade Stinkin' Lincoln classmates.
Happy Sunday. GO SEAHAWKS!