Brother Edwin's Quotient
Saturday, June 04, 2011
|Brother Thomas Fry, Alex W-H & Brother Edwin Reggio - Photo by Mike O'Connell|
On Sunday afternoon last week, the reunion at St. Ed’w was over and I was feeling a tad of that melancholy I feel when something that I have looked forward a lot is finally over and done with. I attempted to set up an evening at the Texas eatery The County Line but there were no takers. The County Line is a place that Brother Edwin really likes and in past years we have made it a little of a tradition to indulge and enjoy Brother Edwin in close quarters. My friend Mike O’Connell, class of 1967 was keen on the idea so I suggested an alternative plan. I point blank asked Brother Edwin if Mike and I could dine with him Sunday evening at Brother Vincent Pieau Residence. He immediately said yes. I went to St Joseph Hall where Brother Edwin was waiting and Mike showed up in his snazzy black BMW convertible. We drove to the Residence where Brother Edwin invited Brother Thomas Frey
to sit with us at dinner.
After our simple meal (photo taken by Mike) Brother Edwin (he knows what I like) suggested the both of us have a frozen Snickers bar. As we left Mike said, “This was the high point of the reunion weekend for me.” I agreed and I can only explain why. It is called the Brother Edwin Quotient.
Back in 1958 at St. Ed’s we were young and our teachers were old men. At least that is what I thought. In 2008 I contacted Brother Edwin Reggio C.S.C. via email (after all those years had passed) and I asked him how he was. His answer was precise and direct. He almost seemed insulted, “I feel just fine. I am not much older than you are.” That’s when it hit me that at age 16 our religion teacher was a young man of 26!
That 2008 I traveled with my wife Rosemary and granddaughter Rebecca (9 at the time) to Yucatán. When my wife noticed that our plane stopped in Houston she suggested we visit Austin and Brother Edwin.
I could have never imagined back in 1958 that some day my granddaughter would meet and have a chat with Brother Edwin.
On our way to eat at the County Line (in a large Lincoln driven by Howard Houston, class of 1961, and his wife Lynne) Rebecca asked Brother Edwin, “How can it be that you and my grandfather can be friends?”
|Rebeca Stewart & Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C.|
Brother Edwin explained to her that when I had been 16 and he 26 the quotient was 0.6. If we jumped to 36 for me and 46 for him the quotient was 0.78 and then at 2008 that quotient was 0.86. I really did not have a clue what Brother Edwin was saying but my Rebecca seemed to understand and she smiled. She had grasped that as Brother Edwin and I became older (and that quotient approached 1) our age difference was smaller and smaller and that explained that we now had lots in common and we could be friends!
I understood later what Brother Edwin had stated so matter a factly to Rebecca and how paradoxically the man with the easy smile but the very private demeanour could now be described by her as, “He is so cute!” I concur with my granddaughter on that. And smart, too.
Dave Schodts - The Friendly Hood
Friday, June 03, 2011
|Dave Schodts, Class of 1962|
Sixth Street in Austin, Texas is famous around the world today.
During my four year stay at St. Edward’s High School between 1958 and 1961 6th Street was a different street. It was a place one tried to avoid. Times were less politically correct so we were warned to stay away as we might “get rolled by a spick”
. We did venture though, some of us for cheap haircuts at the Barber College which was on 6th Street. Also on that street was a bookstore that specialized in pocket books. I tried to find books that had sex parts in them. I was much too embarrassed to pick out the serious ones so I limited myself to buying The Viking
by Edison Marshall and the medical novels of Frank G. Slaughter which contained interesting scenes in the backrooms of hospitals.
Our boarders were classified into the white anglos (never called that) and the Latinos. The Latinos were boys from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In neither classification were boys like me that looked like the Anglos but spoke Spanish, the Hungarians (some who spoke Spanish) and the Mexican/Americans who lived mostly in Texas. The Latino movement was in its infancy and there were intimations of things to come when Texans of Latino extraction started being elected in such places as Carrizo Springs and Crystal City. But few of these Mexican/Americans would acknowledge that they spoke Spanish.
In St. Ed’s some of these Mexican/Americans tried to Anglicize their name. If your last name was Reyes you might change the name (or at least its pronunciation) to Reys.
In my Freshman year I remember wearing khaki pants with razor sharp creases. These pants came back from the laundry with so much starch you had to pass your fist through them before you put in your legs. I matched the look of these pants with extra long pointed shoes from Thom McAn shoes. I guess I was trying to pass as a pachuco
. But my hair was blondish and my duck cut didn’t pass muster.
By my Sophomore year my tastes had changed and I would save up money to buy cordovan Bostonian loafers at Hart Schaffner Marx and expensive slacks at Reynolds Penland. Both stores were on Congress Avenue not far from the Stephen F. Austin on the corner with 5th Street.
My career as a hood was very short-lived. In my junior year I met my first real hood. Or, it seemed to me, that Dave Schodts was one. He was handsome with dark slicked back hair. He had a perfect duck cut. I suspected he carried a switch blade. I avoided eye contact with him. He joined the school band to play drums. He was cool because he played drums. I wasn’t. My alto saxophone was too small to have the glamour of a tenor saxophone.
I saw Dave Schodts for the first time since 1961, when I graduated (he stayed on as he was from the class of 1962), in the 2009 reunion. I would have never recognized him as he was now a full blown tobacco chewing cowboy with a huge white moustache. He didn’t look the hood and with his Texan accent I found him charming and not so intimidating. I had never suspected back in his drumming days that he spoke perfect Spanish.
This time around, last week I was able to chat with him at length. It seems we both had a fondness for Reynolds Penland except Schodts preferred his slacks in layers of five or six at the same time and ditto with shirts and ties. He liked to walk out of the store with all of them on.
Schodts was no angel but there is one story I can tell here that will not compromise anybody. It seems that he and his buddy Ronnie Luster, class of 1961 (both were in our track team and they could run like the wind) went to town with a couple of other of my classmates. The latter pair had a fondness for transporting cars that weren’t theirs to such places as Buda, Texas and then driving back to Austin with cars from Buda. The four wanted to buy wine and found themselves without funds. One of them had an idea. There was a wishing/well/fountain inside the grounds of the State Capitol. The idea was to steal the coins. The two car transfer experts hid behind the bushes while Ronnie Luster and Dave Schodts stripped down to their skivvies. They went into the pond. Dave Schodts had his head under the water, grabbing the coins and passing them on to Ronnie Luster. He came up for air and suddenly heard police sirens. He noticed some men running in their direction. They knew immediately that they were going to be caught so they ran as fast as they could (in skivvies). They got as far as the metal spikes fence. Knowing they could not linger (both Luster and Schodts were hurdle runners, too) they jumped the fence. Neither had shoes. On the other side (the north side of the Capitol) it was empty field. They stepped on broken bottles. They ran, anyway. When they knew they had escaped they were joined by their two buddies (who had their clothes) and went to a gas station to find toilet paper to patch up their bleeding feet.
The problem now was going back to St. Ed’s and explaining to the extremely tough Brother Rene why they were bleeding. They arrived at St. Ed’s (with no money and no wine) and Luster and Schodts told Brother Rene that they had gotten into an argument as to which of the two was the faster. They had raced and and cut themselves in the bargain. The cuts were so bad and so deep that both Luster and Schodts spent three days in the hospital.
I asked Schodts if his crooked nose was the result of one of his many fights. To my astonishment this was not so. It happened when he was cranking up some heavy machinery. I asked Schodts if he carried a knife. With a smile on his face (I told him not to smile for the photo here) he said he only had brass knuckles.
A Telescope, A Spent .45 Caliber Cartridge & The Red Door At St. Ed's
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Doles Plosazay is a name I would never recognize. But if you told me that her name is María de los Dolores Tow Humphrey I would tell you she is my sexy first cousin who like me was born in Buenos Aires.
That Dolores, as most of us who know her call her, happens to live in Austin is a something I could hardly believe when her brother and my first cousin Robin Humphrey told me a couple of months ago.
In a hazy in my mind mid 80s I remember going to Austin, from Houston, with Stephen Burdick (St. Ed’s High School class of 1961) in his girlfriend’s brand new BMW with an early on board computer. Dolores insists I stayed at the Stephen Austin Hotel on Congress Avenue at 5th Street. I had forgotten but Burdick in last week’s all classes reunion confirmed it. Somehow I had met Dolores for coffee and a few years after she disappeared moving to San Antonio and North Carolina.
Dolores has been part of my life in small segments of time that for reasons that I cannot explain happened in times of my life that I could not possibly forget.
Her mother often criticized her beautiful daughter (she may be a few months older or younger than I but when directly asked Dolores will answer, “That information is locked in the vaults.”) for not being smart and would say so in most unkind ways. I disagreed as intelligence comes in many forms. Dolores’ perspicacity was one that in former times of unpolitical correctness would have been called a practical and womanly intelligence. Dolores’ intelligence was one that could not be separated from her passionate heart – a passionate and intensely feeling heart. If anything that passionate heart made her a woman which in spite of the fact we compared to Marilyn Monroe because of her shapely body, was more like Elizabeth Taylor in her tendency to tackle multiple marriages. I asked Dolores how many times she had been married and her answer was all about that locked vault. I do know that her last husband was the love of her life and when he died she was left empty for a long time.
When I arrived I Austin on Thursday afternoon I called Dolores as soon as I found a phone. She was difficult telling me that she hated driving except in straight lines and if I could find my way to Lamar Street I could meet her for coffee. I explained that I would have to take a bus from St. Ed’s and that it was very easy to find me as St. Ed’s was right on South Congress Avenue. She told me that this was most impossible and that she would get lost.
The next morning when I called her Dolores told me that she had no car and I would have to take the bus. Later on she told me that her car had been repaired and that she would try to drive to St. Ed’s. And she did. She arrived in a red Mercedes called Scarlett (after Vivien Leigh!).
|Dolores in Scarlet|
We had hamburgers at Ragsdale Center. We drank glasses and glasses of iced tea (she unsweetened). We connected. Her Spanish is flawless. We talked of her former boyfriends of which I had somehow met a few. I mentioned Brito the tall and handsome but somewhat scary man who had visited her when she was staying with us in Mexico City for a few weeks sometime in the early 60s. I told her that our Abuelita did not like him at all and she tried her best to make him leave quickly every time he came over. Dolores simply told me, “Let me show you this.” From her purse she removed a very little clear plastic box. Inside was a spent .45 caliber cartridge.
|Dolores on the roof, Avenida Insurgentes Sur|
This was her story: "Do you remember the Hotel María Isabel on Paseo de la Reforma by the statue of El Angel? The hotel was built especially to be finished for a forthcoming visit by President Kennedy. Brito came over and threw the cartridge at me. He said, ‘This proves my love for you. The man who has this bullet in his gut had looked at you and that is not permitted.’ "
It seems that Brito had shot the man in point blank range in the lobby of the hotel.
In happier and somewhat less complicated times, perhaps around 1960, Dolores and I had gone to the roof of my grandmother’s and mother’s apartment on Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur in Mexico City with my telescope.
I had built the reflecting type telescope, it had a four inch mirror, from Edmund Scientific parts back in my sophomore year at St. Ed’s. With it I had looked at the moon, the planets and the stars from the large windows of the West Dormitory. I was so proud of my telescope that I had asked Richard Todd, a handsome boy who looked like Ricky Nelson to pin stripe it.
My grandmother approved of our astronomical interests but was not aware that our interests were baser. Next door to our apartment there was a fairly nice house that sold patio furniture in its front garden (Dolores with a smile told me in the cafeteria, “I never noticed that they sold any of it.”). The house was a clandestine house of ill repute. As soon as we were on the roof we swung the telescope down and peered into the windows where we would spy seedy looking old and fat men being entertained by scantily clad women. We never say any action as the curtains were invariably drawn. But we had our hopes. It was during the day that I snapped the Ektachrome of Dolores with my Pentacon-F with its F-2.8 Zeiss Tessar lens.
|Richard Todd, 1958/59|
Some time later in the middle of the night there was a loud banging at our door. My grandmother went downstairs and when she opened it she found a drunken man who was delighted to see her and called her madam. He wanted to come in. I think it was then that Abuelita caught on why it was the house next door never sold any lawn furniture.
I find it so amazing that the beautiful red door at the front of Old Main, a door I first entered 54 years ago with my mother, is a door where I photographed my wife Rosemary, my granddaughter Rebecca, Dolores and lastly an iPhone self portrait.
|Alex the telescope man, 1958/59|
The Gentle Ex Boxer From Laredo & The Man From Hebbronville
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
|Fernando García HS Class of 61 & William Averitt HS Class of 62|
These two gentlemen, Fernando García and William Averitt had not seen each other since García had graduated from St. Edward’s High School in 1961. William Averitt had one more year to go. The reason both are in this picture which I took last Sunday is because of a fatal accident.
On April 27, 2010 William Averitt’s brother James died in an automobile accident somewhere in Texas.
In August 2010 my granddaughter Rebecca and I visited Mike East (Class of 1962) in his Santa Fe Ranch a few miles from the oddly named Falfurrias. While there Mike East drove us to that town on our way to Sarita, Texas and I pointed out to Rebecca the town with the funny name.
Mike East and I in some of our late afternoon chats in his living room where I had Doctor Pepper while he would drink his beer and his Tequila El Patrón Silver Label; would reminisce of our days at St. Ed’s. The conversation would eventually steer in the direction of “Do you remember this guy?” I had a bit of a trouble because it was a sort of rule that one’s class would pretty well ignore those students that were underclassmen. Since I was from the class of 1961 and Mike East from 1962 many of the names he threw out at me were familiar only in name. But he was adamant about the Averitt brothers. We were unsure if they were twins. They were both in his class but they did not really look like each other. The boys had been from a small town called Hebbronville which was near where Mike East lived. The three had been on horses together. Mike East had lost touch with them. “Find them for me if you can,” he told me.
Back home I tried and ran into dead ends. That was the case for months until one day I learned the trick of using the middle initial in my search engine. It was then that I hit an obituary for one James M. Averitt who had died in April. The obituary was posted by the Funeraria del Angel in Falfurrias. I called the funeral home and asked for James Averitt’s brother’s phone number.
I called William Averitt and we chatted and exchanged emails. I kept in touch with him as it was our plan to combine forces so that we might persuade his shy friend Mike East to attend the 2011 reunion.
A few months back I contacted Averitt and asked him if he was going to go to the reunion. He cited some rather serious medical conditions and that he had to have an operation. He told me that he might postpone that operation and come to the reunion.
William Averitt did come to the reunion with his wife and they had a warm visit with Mike East and Letty García.
On the last day of the reunion, the brunch after Mass, I spotted these two in warm conversation. I never did ask them if they had been friends after St. Ed’s or perhaps before. It was unimportant.
Fernando García was our handsome, tall and star boxer. I was not his friend as we were in different circles. García was part of the yet to be called Chicano contingent of our school. We called them the Latinos. I was not a Latino because I looked like an Anglo, but I was not considered an Anglo because I spoke Spanish. I was in my shy no-man’s-land all by myself. But in my observations I noted a young man who never became angry or abused his size and strength. He was one of our better football players. I remember his quick smile and his quiet voice.
Why you may ask is it that I spend money that I don’t have to travel to Austin to meet up with people that you might say I have nothing in common with? I have an answer which might not satisfy. But it does satisfy my own puzzlement over my enthusiasm for these Texans. They are eccentric and hold views that are mostly to the right of our pristine majority rule Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
I feel that what I share with these Texans (some are from elsewhere but it is most convenient to call them all Texans) is a shared experience. This experience if they were not my personal close friends or roommates is still a strong experience since we were “locked up” in an old Gothic revival castle for four years. The bond is not a bond between us but a bond from all around us that pushes us into a centre where, suddenly, after all these years we feel a centripetal pull. We may look older and sometimes almost unrecognizable from our yearbook pictures but the bond is an inescapable one that calms, satisfies and makes me feel like they are all versions of those old shoes of my life that I treasured and could never throw away.
Talking to Fernando García, elegantly dressed and wearing tassled black cordovan Johnston & Murphy shoes, I asked him to pose with William Averitt. The picture you see here amply describes this bond, this bond that came from the fact that these boys that we all were when went to St. Ed’s and that men, men of the order of Holy Cross, with an instruction that came from a liberal Catholic education, turned us into men, too.
Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C. - A Priest For All Seasons
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
|Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C.|
Quite a few Roman Catholic priests have passed by and graced my life in my almost 69 years of existence. I have never met one that I did not like. I have been lucky to have admired them all but, I must confess, that until recently I had never met a priest that I would have invited home for tea.
When I asked Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. this past Thursday, if the Sunday Mass at 10:30 would be said by Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C. I was deeply disappointed to find out that Father Wilkinson was away on a spiritual retreat.
It was at the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace where back in the late 50s and until 1961 we St. Ed’s High Students had attended our very own spiritual retreats. In the 2008 all-classes reunion the last day had finished with Mass at the chapel with brunch afterwards. Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace was a pleasant affair but also a sentimental one.
I sat next to my religion teacher Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. and the Mass, while not in the Latin I had grown up with, was special. It was special in that there I was 49 years later with my teacher. Who would have known? It was special because the pianist could not only play the piano unusually well but he also had a wonderful baritone voice. He was accompanied by a small choir of soloists and both an electric base and guitar.
It was special because the father presiding was a young father of the Order of Holy Cross, Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C. His Mass did not drag and his sermon was incisive and full of intelligent humor. When I left the service I had to congratulate him. He looked at me in the eye with a smile and I was instantly a Father Wilkinson fan!
Imagine my surprise as this time around, when the Mass began, the the man who entered (now sporting a most elegant short beard) was indeed Father Wilkinson. He was back from his retreat, just in time.
I immediately whispered into the ears of my fellow classmates (all from our class of 1961), Lee Lytton, James Kulleck, Bill Hanshaw and Fernando García, that we were in for a treat. We were. Father Wilkinson began his sermon (all about Christ’s forthcoming Ascension as seen in St. John’s Gospel) with the following, “There is a Greek proverb that says, “It is impossible for a man to hide two things. One, that he is in love, the other that he is drunk.”
The final song was a glorious rendering of Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic with its original lyrics (no John Brown!) which led my friend Lee Lytton, a professor of Law at St Mary’s University in San Antonio to say, “My, my what lyrics. I had never heard this song sung quite like that! Are we now going to sing Dixie?” Dixie was not in the cards but as I went out in search of Quigley (read yesterday’s blog) I stopped to shake hands with Father Wilkinson and thought that all those who attend his Masses are truly lucky and blessed.
Monday, May 30, 2011
|Maurice Quigley, Class of 1950|
At our 2011 St. Ed’s Reunion in Austin,Texas, we had breakfast in Le Mans Hall (the Order of Holy Cross was founded in Le Mans, France). Some of the alumni were invited to tell their stories. I was sitting by Mike East (Class of 1962) and I whispered in his ear, “This is going to be tedious and boring.” I was absolutely wrong. I was instructed by Mike East’s partner, Letty García to take him out for a photo with his nephew Justis but East looked at me and said, “I want to listen to these stories.” We did.
The best story came from deadpan faced (with a wonderful equally deadpan delivery) Maurice (to be pronounced Morris as he is of Irish extraction) Quigley. Just for effect let me repeat his name, Morris Quigley, class of 1950.
It was 1946 and Quigley was a freshman at St. Ed’s High School. He was in a classroom in what we call Old Main, which is a Gothic Revival structure built around 1885. Quigley was a good boy sitting in the back of a Spanish class being taught by Brother Innocence. There was a disturbance and Brother Innocence found Quigley guilty even though the boy said,” I would never cause a disturbance.” Brother Innocence commanded Quigley to leave the room and to stand outside until the bell rang. This was tough punishment had this happened in spring as the Texas heat would have been overpowering.
Quigley heard the voice of the principal, Brother Bonaventure Foley, C.S.C. The man was coming his way with a family. He was showing them the school as they might have been thinking of sending their boy to experience a Roman Catholic education at St. Ed’s which was a boarding school that also accepted day students.
Young Quigley was not keen on explaining to Brother Bonaventure why he was standing at attention outside the classroom so he moved behind a statue of St Edward the Confessor, the St. Edward whose name was the school’s.
Brother Bonaventure was looking out, through the high and narrow Gothic windows, onto the east side of the school where the Brothers of Holy Cross had a farm where they grew vegetables. The family looked at St Edward and noticed something that moved behind. They looked closely and saw a terrified young boy.
“Who’s is that?” they asked Brother Bonaventure.
Brother Bonaventure simply answered, “That’s Quigley.” For years when those parents told people about their visit to St. Ed's, they would say: "And they keep a Quigley behind this statue."
I wrote to Maurice Quigley so that he would verify some of the facts that I might have forgotten from his Saturday speach as I had been too busy laughing. Here is what he wrote and I rest my case that Maurice Quigley should now at age 79 pursue a career in comedy.
I'm sorry for taking so long to answer. Business has been very good, though somewhat hectic, but I won't complain about that.
The Principal of St. Edward's University High School (that's the way it is shown on my diploma) was Brother Bonaventure Foley, CSC. It was he who said "This is Quigley."
The Spanish language teacher, who mistakenly (?) thought I had caused a disturbance in the back of the classroom, was Brother Innocence. I don't remember his last name. Of course I would never cause a disturbance, you understand.
I was a 14 year old freshman in 1946. I had actually entered the ninth grade at the age of 13 in 1945. That was in a public school in Austin, and it was a very poor experience. In those years it was bad enough to be Irish, but if you were Irish Catholic you were really not accepted by everyone, especially if you had no permanent home. That was OK with me, but that's part of a story much longer than you would care to hear. On the first day of school after the Christmas Holidays I was told to leave and not return.
Therefore, I finally accumulated enough money to at least get started to SEUHS [in those days it was called St Edward’s University High School], so I just entered as a 14 year old Freshman in '46.
Yes, I was in the class of '50, and a year later, while the Korean War was raging I enlisted in the US Army, thinking that was war I was supposed to attend. However, the Army figured it had all the trouble it could handle in Korea, so I was sent to Europe. Therefore I did not get to fight in Korea. Wanting to keep myself available in case something, such as what is going on now came along, upon my release from active duty I enlisted in the Army National Guard.
Counting my active duty time I spent eight and a half years as an enlisted man, qualified for a commission, became airborne qualified, and was fortunate to have had several excellent commands, the most enjoyable of which were my more than six years in the 71st Airborne Brigade which was a round out to the 82nd.
I wish I were 78, but I am 79 since last March 6th.
Brother Bonaventure and the parents were looking east at the farm, approximately where I-35 is now.
The most important part of this is that I met a little girl from St. Mary's Academy at the end of my sophomore year and four years later hitch hiked home from my station in California with $65.00 in my pocket to marry her, and that was beyond doubt the very best thing that ever happened to me.
Hope this answers your questions. Probably far more than you wanted.
Good things have continued to happen to me, and one of them was meeting you. God bless and keep you and your family, and I look forward to seeing you at the next reunion.
My Red Suitcase & Kodak Plus-X Bite The Dust
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Not too long ago I was obsessed with the idea that if I were to be true
to the concept that a daily blog is a diary this meant that I had to
post every day before midnight. In travels to Argentina, Mexico and the
US I would resort to going to internet cafés where I would write my blog
and using photos that I might have stored in something like Photobucket
which is sort of like flickr. My friends pointed out that with the
advance of technology and if I had a halfway decent digital camera I
would be able to upload photos taken during that day onto the blog. And
furthermore they told me that if I had a laptop I could write my blog
from my hotel room which surely would have Wi-Fi. I have resisted this
route because I really do no have the funds to buy a laptop nor am I
interested in having a digital camera.
I have just returned (Monday noon) from a four day trip to Austin, Texas where I attended an all classes reunion of St Ed’s High School (1880s until in closed in 1967). There were special events to honour our class of 1961 as that makes 2011 our 50th anniversary.
I managed to have blogs until last Saturday before I left Thursday for Austin. Saturday’s was special as it was a speech by Raymond Fleck who in the late 50s was an extremely young president of St. Edward’s University, head of the order in Texas of the Brothers of Holy Cross and by being that he was also the ultimate authority in our high school. Fleck’s speech was about an event, a historical Texan event that somehow unified both the high school and the university. For more, read here
Of the reunion I will write a few blogs in the next few days. I am writing this one this Thursday June 2 and I feel no compunctions about the sporadic nature of my blogs now except to point out that where possible I will fill each day with something and I will not cheat and skip a day!
My theme for today has to do with the feeling of unsettlement. It all began last Sunday as I “checked out” of Jacques Dujarié Hall (an extremely Spartan dormitory in which bare bulbs in my room, there weren’t any, would have helped me imagine even better an imminent and brutal interrogation by the Gestapo) I noticed that my 25 year-old French hard-suitcase would not close properly. This was a Sunday in a Memorial Day weekend. There was no chance I could have gone to buy a suitcase of similar quality for a good price. I had no tools (airline security, remember?) so I left the dorm wheeling the suitcase gingerly as I thought of possible solutions. One came when I passed by Old Main (see picture) and noticed that on one side, where they park golf carts (used to transport stuff and aging alumni), they were cordoned off by stiff, yellow nylon cord. Since I did not have a knife I carefully untied the knots and wrapped the cord around my suitcase twice. I had to make it secure while keeping it easy for the homeland security guys to open my bag and confirm that my small metal tripod did not hide within it a portable AK-47.
When I went to St Joseph Hall, after having an extremely pleasant almost siesta under the trees of Old Main in a 39 degree heat (I love heat) Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. offered to cut the cord in two so that each side of the suitcase would be secured simply. I told him that after our dinner at Brother Vincent’s with Brother Thomas Fry and Mike O’Connell, Class of 1967, Mike was going to take me to an airport motel so that I could fly out Monday morning. “Mike will surely have a knife.” He did but Brother Edwin insisted in sharpening it.
At the motel I cut my left index finger horribly with the sharpened knife. I bled for quite a while and luckily the motel had Band-Aids.
My suitcase arrived in Vancouver partially open and the Homeland Guys didn’t bother to put back the second yellow cord. Missing from my suitcase (I was lucky) was one fresh double AA battery.
Whenever I am waiting for my luggage to arrive at the carousels I always think that those who say that miracles (the Catholic type) don’t happen anymore probably don't fly much. I always cite that the arrival of one’s luggage is ample proof that miracles do happen.
While waiting for the suitcase my iPhone rang. I expected it to be my wife. It wasn’t. It was the English chap from Beau Photo telling me that my order for 20 rolls of Kodak Plus-X in 120 could not be filled because the film had been discontinued in March. Now this was to be expected (but not this soon) and it was no problem for me as Ilford makes an excellent equivalent in its FP-4 120 film.
But the realization that a suitcase that had traveled with me almost around the world and that my favourite b+w film was now history unsettled me and put me more in the mode of that beckoning golden rocking chair on which I can sit and watch sunsets until the lights go out.