Looking Way Back
I moved away from East Haven, CT, immediately upon graduating from college, and although I returned sometimes to stay with my parents, I spent little time within the confines of my hometown. As a result, I have had very little contact with childhood friends. The only exception was my friend (and the best man at my wedding), Russ, who we kept touch with … and occasionally visited for a number of years after we moved on to California. And as things go, life and career and parenting got busier … and I lost touch with Russ, too. The point is that my wife, Muri, is the person in my life with whom I have the longest common history and that only goes back to my junior year at UConn. When my Dad passed away a few years ago, several neighborhood friends showed up at his memorial service with tales of our antics in the woods behind our house and our basement, but for the most part, there’s not much to trigger East Haven nostalgia.
Enter Facebook. Now, I’ve heard stories of people who find dozens of old friends on Mark Zuckerberg’s gift to the world, but I’m not one of them. I suspect that a reasonable percentage of people in their late sixties are not sufficiently computer savvy to be FB fans and I know that others say things like, Why would I want computer friends when I have real ones? and Why would I give up my privacy to be friends with a bunch of people I hardly know? Good questions indeed and perhaps the reasons most of my FB friends are from here in California. Gradually, though, a few East Haven faces have popped up. My next door neighbor, Charley (probably Charles by now), who was at my Dad’s funeral friended me, and then another former neighborhood kid, Jimmy (probably James or Jim) turned up. Then, Russ (now Jim) joined Facebook and I friended him. Having friended Russ, another mutual friend (FB loves those) from high school turned up. I didn’t know Susan was Sue until I got past her change of last name by asking her who she was. Sue was in most of my classes in high school. In chatting back and forth, she mentioned a story that one of our favorite teachers, Miss Rocco, told in her Latin class. Yes, I took four years of Latin. Why? Someone said that taking Latin helped with vocabulary on your college boards. It did. Anyway, Miss Rocco told us that every time an owl hooted in a tree in her backyard, someone in her family died. As a lover of birds of prey … and owls in particular … I’d always found that story particularly haunting. And here was someone I hadn’t communicated with for fifty-two years, relating the same story.
Is there a point to all this nostalgia? Well, yes. Some of you may know that I have been building a legacy blog (appropriately named A Dads’ Legacy) for my children … and especially my grandchildren … to record a (hopefully enjoyable) story of my life. If you are interested in taking a look, it’s here. I started A Dad’s Legacy because by the time I talked to my Dad about his early life, he had forgotten much of what I wanted to know. I’ve been stalled at the story of my high school years but this morning, in the corner of the page of my journal, I scribbled HIGH SCHOOL. That means it’s time to document that important period in my life. I usually find new insights in telling the story of my life in print, often a new appreciation of how lucky I was or of how some difficulty shaped who I am now. I’ll probably post what I write here, as well as on my legacy blog. I hope some of my readers will find it interesting. I know I will.