2008.02.20 Not much has changed

Written by David Green.

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.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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