That’s quite a mouthful and it’s difficult to contemplate how that many years have gone by since we walked the halls of Turnpike High School and made the rounds of those many counties surrounding Sullivan in pursuit of having fun. In some ways it seems a lot longer and in other ways much shorter a time frame. How can it possibly be that fifty years have gone by already?
I can hardly believe Mary Anne Fedorchak and I went to the Prom together those many years ago. God bless her and may she rest in peace forever. I remember so vividly how three girls from three towns had me so completely wrapped up as if I was strapped in a straight jacket fifty years ago but they did and how I ever came through those times in one piece I’ll never know but I managed. There was Beverly from Sonestown, and Maxine from Lopez, and that wonderful little brunette from out and away toward Muncy. She stood there in a form fitting sweater and I couldn’t take my eyes off her that first time I saw her. She was beautiful and I was awe struck. Upon our first meeting to my surprise, she walked over to me, wrapped her arms around my waist and looked into my eyes and said in a husky voice, “You’re cute.” She kissed me full on the lips and pressed herself against me firmly and stuck her tongue into my mouth and held me there for a long moment. Nobody ever stuck there tongue in my mouth before. Then she broke away and I thought I might fall over and she said to me,
“My name is Cadillac, what’s yours?”
I stared into those eyes and finally managed to stammer, “I don’t know, I forgot.”
Those are the memories that never get old but age with grace and will live with me forever or, at least will live inside my mind until I die. The girl from Sonestown still lives there, the girl in the sweater is only a memory and I don’t know where she wound up. The girl from Lopez moved to Ohio and I never saw her again. That was a girl and a love that took me forty years to finally stop thinking about her every day. I did finally, but even now I still think about her once in awhile.
We lived in a place and a time that was pretty special compared to now. There were no drugs, seldom did any of us ever hear about anyone getting an abortion, and most of the time crime was pretty mundane. Most of you will remember going to Manny’s, roller skating, square dancing, catching a movie at the Dushore theatre, and some of us were hanging out near the town Memorial in Dushore harassing the town cop the citizens of Dushore hired to tame us. In the summer we were at Shad’s Dam or Loyalsock Creek swimming.
I remember Jerry Doyle’s sway back horse that died leaning against a tree in the Doyle’s pasture. I remember going to the ledges and camping out. Smoking corn silk cigarettes, drinking hard cider, and proudly showing anyone who wanted to see if I had one my little treasure that left the perfectly round impression where I had hidden it in my wallet. I carried it around for years because “I had one, and I was cool.” It also disintegrated from non-use eventually.
Miss Rouse was truly a gift for those of us who had her for Home Room. I often think about her and I remember the day I was reading from a book we all had to read from that had stories about Silas Marner in it and the Headless Horseman, and other classics, and on that day I was reading out loud about a young woman who was from Brazil and I said “Brassiere.” It was an honest mistake but the class cracked up. I also remember one day looking out the window of our homeroom and saw a 1953 Ford going by on its way up Sugar Hill and I said,
“There’s the car I wish I had.”
Maxine jumped up to see but it was gone from sight by then and I said,
and she thought I meant it was a fast car and she laughed at me. I also remember the great mural of the US on the wall of our Homeroom done by another class a few years before ours.
I remember the Air Force boys from the missile site down the road past Lopez and some of the girls from our homeroom that went out with them. Those boys were some pretty serious competition as I recall.
Who could ever forget Mister Thall? Did I really throw a whole pack of Alka Seltzers in the fish tank that he had his pollywogs in? Did they really all dissolve?
Do any of you remember the old cars we had that were referred to as Al Capone cars? Most of them were from the thirties and a few from the forties. They were huge, roomy and at fifteen cents for a gallon of gas, we went for miles in them. Once in awhile someone like Jerry Doyle got to use their dad’s ’56 Plymouth and we rode around in style.
Doyle and I went to the top of Sonestown Mountain one night for a test. The idea was to push the car from a dead stop to get it rolling down the mountain and then hop in and ride it all the way down to the bottom without hitting the brakes. So, we stopped, got out and started pushing the car. When I thought it was going fast enough I jumped in, I looked over and Doyle wasn’t in the car and the door was still open. Remember the full steel taps on our shoes back then? Doyle slipped and down he went and I was heading down the mountain in the passenger seat alone. Suddenly there was Doyle. He got to his feet after he fell and caught up to the car. What a ride! The things kids did back then.
Not so many years after High School was a thing of the past I remember sitting at a table in a café in Cannes France studying a new camera I had just bought. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and a fireball and I found myself in the middle of the street about a hundred feet from the café and there was a ten thousand pound printing press laying in the street about three feet from me and glass everywhere. The French Foreign Legion blew the newspaper office up because of some article they printed about General DeGaul. I realized I wasn’t in Mildred anymore and that life for me had changed and it was going to be a permanent change.
I also remember you all. Each and every one of you my classmates and I found myself missing you many times in my life. We worked on so many things together, and we interacted on an equal amount of ventures and when we went our separate ways, it was the end of one time and the beginning of another. Never-the-less I missed you all when High School was over and to this day. Some of my friends are no longer with us and that is sad. Steve Zosh and Danny Borick come to mind.
I remember so well how life was waiting for me and that I needed to get going and I had this urgency about getting it started as soon as I could. For me the Navy provided the impetus to get things jump started and it has never stopped fifty years later. Today, I am retired and I have been for nearly fifteen years, however, I write articles, I finished a book, and I have toyed with another one for several years but have not finished it. I enjoy Cognac warmed between my palms, Hennessey’s, and I take my dogs for walks and playtime on one of the beaches here in Costa Rica. I was abundantly fortunate to have found a wonderful little ballerina that I married thirty eight years ago, and we are still marking time as our grains of sand fall through the funnel of our life glasses. Where it ends, no one knows.
I wish each one of you long healthy life, enough wealth to get you by and abundant happiness to make a long life enjoyable and worthy of your pursuit. Our fiftieth anniversary at Turnpike is coming up and I’m afraid I won’t be there however, I would have liked to but I am there in spirit and in mind. To all of you I say hello and a reluctant goodbye.
Maybe I’ll stop by and visit in another fifty years.
Naranjo de Rosario
Costa Rica, Central America