2008.02.20 Not much has changed

Written by David Green.


We traveled to East Lansing Saturday to visit some old friends. We, of course, is just Colleen and me, which still seems a little strange.

It was especially odd for this trip because Jim and Nancy have four children and those kids have had some good times with our three.

But that was so many years ago. We haven’t gotten together for a visit since the oldest of the kids were in elementary school. Milwaukee just hasn’t been on our meager travel agenda for a long time, and as is the case with most of the world, Morenci is rarely a vacation destination.

We met Saturday at Michigan State University, where we all went to college, but we can’t really be described as college friends. Colleen was still in high school when Jim, Nancy and I were at MSU. And besides, the three of us rarely saw one another at college. We were only summer friends.

Nancy’s father, a pastor, had connections to the Methodist summer colony of Bay View, on the north edge of Petoskey. I think the family owned one of those great old cottages in Bay View.

Nancy worked her college summers at an old hotel there, the Terrace Inn. I served as the dishwasher and general goof-off at the Terrace Inn for two college summers.

Jim was in Bay View, too. He and Nancy were high school sweethearts from Marquette and even got to spend their summers together. Jim had a summer job with the post office and it seems as though he did some work at the hotel on occasion. Maybe he filled in sometimes for old Earl, the night watchman.

There are a lot of questions to ask about those years to fill in the historical record, but we didn’t review this portion of our past. Colleen wasn’t part of it anyway. We pretty much stuck with the past 15 or so years since we last got together.

Jobs, what the kids are up to, how we failed our kids, ideas for the future, etc.—nearly six hours straight of catching up.

Jim and Nancy were on campus to visit their daughter and deliver her boyfriend for a weekend visit. The kids did the obligatory visiting with the old folks, but I could tell that was going to get old really fast.

They’d probably heard enough from the  graduates of 35 years ago saying things like, “But wasn’t there a building over there that’s no longer standing?” and “Did you ever have any classes in that hall over there?” and “Have you had a chance to view the world’s largest hair ball ever taken from the stomach of a cow?”

So the youngsters ditched us and we sat down to talk for the remaining five hours. It was rapid and non-stop, with constant derailments into related topics. Sometimes we came back to the original conversation; more likely it was left hanging as we rushed on to something else. There was a lot of ground to cover.

Jim and Nancy had a better understanding of what our kids have been doing—their lives are somewhat public via this newspaper—but we needed to hear a lot of stories about their clan.

They have four remarkable kids who haven’t always had smooth sailing in their young lives. John was of the most interest to me because we have some similar experiences.

He bicycled down to New Orleans and bummed around for a while. Currently he’s in Syria or Egypt or somewhere. Jim and Nancy haven’t heard from him in a few days and they’re a little concerned.

Jon was traveling around Europe, but then Jim made the remark one day that he and Nancy had never made it to Morocco back when they traveled Europe. The next time they heard from Jon—or maybe heard about him from another sibling—he was in Casablanca or somewhere. He rented a bicycle and rode out into the desert for a day, and now he’s off on another adventure—somewhere.

It made me think back to my traveling days and how seldom I updated my parents about my whereabouts.

Our conversation Saturday ranged from the mundane to Jim’s mention that he still questions the existence of God despite his active membership in a church. We were far from finished, but all too soon we ran out of time.

Aside from gray hair, everything seemed the same. The 15-year absence didn’t really mean a thing, and that was all very comforting.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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