The Summer of 1963
All of the contents at the house on 11644 Colmar Street had been loaded to the moving van and we watched it disappear down the street and to the left and out of sight. Then my Mom, Dad, two younger sisters, the cat and I said our good-byes to the farewell gathering climbed into the ’58 Ford Country Squire station wagon and followed the same path the van had just taken and out of the neighborhood I had known since the fourth grade. I chose the rear facing seat in the back and watched my little league team, boy scout troop and neighbors fade from sight.
We spent the night in a Best Western motel in West Memphis, Arkansas and the next morning I crossed the Mississippi River into Tennessee for the very first time. Davy Crockett was my hero who I had come to know in Texas after we moved there from Washington DC and now, I imagined, I was coming home to Tennessee.
The next thing I knew we were turning right on to Lynwood and left into the driveway seven houses up the street that had been the home of the Skinner’s since the late 20’s and was to be my home. How to describe those initial sights, sound and smells is part of a book I am writing and God willing will finish. This one is titled West End, A Novel Until then, the landscape seemed vast and nothing was flat like in Dallas. The trees were more than could be counted and reached higher than any tree I had ever seen. Sounds in those first few moments were extra-ordinary. The breeze in the tree leaves, squirrels on the trunk bark, lawn mowers in the distant, dogs barking, blue jays and other birds, but the blue jays. If I had a sense of smell before that day, I don’t remember or maybe it was just the bombardment of so many. The yard seemed like a park and every portion of it smelled differently. The house from the rooms on the first floor to the bedrooms upstairs to the basement with its sump pump. Though unaware I smelled a living history that was three and a half times my awakened senses.
After the tour of our empty new home (the movers were to arrive later that day) and around the noon hour we were sitting in the somewhat dark and cool of Ireland’s restaurant across from the Vanderbilt campus and eating steak and biscuits. I really can’t remember what happened after that until the summer had established its routine.
I was a swimmer, tennis player, baseball player and boy scout when not being the obligatory child and student. Three of these had been removed and that summer I played tennis.
There was a great debate that summer about where I would go to school. Private or public? MBA or Hillsboro? I was never privy to or involved in those discussion and the decision process. The echoes were nevertheless there and the story would emerge over time (a very long time).
The day after Labor Day, as was the custom of that time, it was back to school. That morning a yellow school bus screeched to a halt in front of the driveway on Lynwood. The birds went silent or my ears shutdown. I stepped into a world familiar to all the inhabitants except me.
Fall of 1963 to Graduation 1965
This is where I get to pay great homage and thanks to my classmates of Hillsboro High School ’65. Not during those two years or at any time since can I recall not being welcomed and sometimes loved into the community. Your graciousness was magnificent! and the reason I am sharing this note of reflection, remembrance and appreciation with Sara to share with you.
Here I can only promise that I will make subsequent posts to Life Love God in celebration of those days (my ’65 Yearbook at hand) and many of the kindnesses you shared.
Two years after I met and became friends with some of you my parents and I made a return trip from whence we came (just the three of us) from Nashville west across the Mississippi River through Arkansas and on the Dallas; then on to Austin. That first day in Austin is mostly a blur except for that moment when all the affairs had been taken care of and it was time to say good-bye.
On the one side of that good-bye were my parents and roommates for the past seventeen years from Wilmington DE (1947-1950) to Washington DC (1950-1956) to Dallas TX (1956-1963) to Nashville TN (1963-1965); and now to my roommates at the Orange and White dorm in Austin TX with four suite-mates from Houston and two hundred other primarily Texans (none of whom I had ever met). Many years later Mom told me that Dad had cried when they drove off. I had never seen him cry – nor until his passing in 2005 would I.
1965 to 2015
The Cliffs Notes of the time since then is mostly captured on my LinkedIn Profile and other social media and business networks.
Workplace Hidden Opportunities, a business book in progress, is my present and compelling expression that has me in the throes of a 24/7 work/sleep cycle that I have never experienced until now.
God willing, I will have swum through murky waters into blue oceans of clarity before the next reunion occurs and I will be able to be present in the comradeship.
In the meantime, this weekend of July24/25, I send my most heartfelt appreciation for you all and have no doubts that the love of your long-lived relationships and adventures will make you younger by the moment.
Perhaps it was April in the springtime of our junior year 1967. Inez Floyd, our English teacher’s room was facing the front yard on to Hillsboro Road and the windows were open. She was teaching us about the romantic poets (I think) and you could feel her breath shorten and her cadence rise as she left the poetry and became overtaken it seemed in some esoteric trance. She began to express the wonders of nature and went on and on until, for me the breaking moment, when she described the wonder of a spider weaving its web at night and the bringing it back into its belly before daybreak. It defied for me all the observation of my ripe years of observation. On the rare occasions like this when the story recurs I continue to look for the validation of the Inez trance story (which today has been absent). It was for me a defining moment when pontification about the reality of things became suspect. Sitting there that day, I was truly out of town! Oh, it seemed her classroom smelled of lilac.