2018.03.28 Guest Column: Jim Whitehouse


“You missed a good reunion.  Again,” I say to my old high school classmate Earl Buckmaster. 

“I live for today and tomorrow. I don’t get you guys who live in the past,” he says, sniffing derisively. “Besides, my best friend didn’t go either.” 

“Good grief!” I say. “There were 82 of us in our graduating class. I hope you had more than one friend. We had a terrific group of kids.” 

“I don’t remember any of em,” says Earl. 

“That’s cuz you never go to any reunions,” I say. 

“Like I said—I don’t live in the past.” 

Because I go to every reunion and stay in touch with a bunch of the old gang in my hometown, I’ve reflected on Earl’s point of view since we had that conversation three years ago. Do I live in the past? 

I have grandchildren. Having kids and grandkids by definition points the arrow of time towards the future, with rest areas along the path to let one reflect on “today.” 

Every day brings a new adventure, a new bit of learning, a new bit of excitement. 

Take yesterday, for example. It was about 25° outside when Dr. Ciderman, Dr. Routemeister and I took off on our bicycles early in the morning. Tree trunks were still plastered with the wet snow and ice that had fallen a few days earlier, and the fields were white with snow. Five deer crossed the road ahead of us.  A bit later, we saw herds of 10 and 20 deer.  A pair of sandhill cranes flew overhead, and later, three more of the big birds gobbled at us from the edge of a flooded field. A hawk soared above us. We spotted three robins and a red-bellied woodpecker. 

Our friends Dr. and Mrs. Cyclotron and L.P. Fattire met us for breakfast at our turn-around point.  We covered 4.2 million different topics during our conversation over coffee, laughed a lot, and then hit the road again for the ride home, covering 26 miles on a gorgeous sunny day. 

I read a good book. I talked with my family in Florida on the telephone. I went to bed, dreamed good dreams, and woke up this morning smiling. While I shaved and showered, I listened to The Temptations singing “My Girl” on the radio. I thought about hearing that wonderful group singing that song the year it hit the charts, not 300 yards from where I live today, and hearing them again in New York City a couple of years later. And again about 15 years ago when they came back to Albion College to perform again.

Last weekend, I took a road trip with a great old college friend, Toad. We were headed north across the bridge and on into Canada to see the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline but had to turn around when we found the Mighty Mack closed due to ice falling off the cables and towers. It didn’t matter. We wandered down along the Lake Michigan shoreline talking about books and life and everything else. We had lunch with my childhood pal Johnel in Petoskey, and the three of us wandered around a bookstore together. 

Living in the past? No. 

Living is like a pyramid. Wider at the bottom and pointed at the top. How can you look up if you don’t have something to stand on?