Monday, August 25, 2008

Out of the Blue: Another Viking Achiever

The search for our 1958 classmates continues. Sometimes we find them. Sometimes they find us.

Recently I received an email from James Davis (JT or Jim), who is living in Cambridge, England. At the time he first wrote, he was unaware of our reunion but he had found my email address on our blogsite. Seems he's been reminiscing about his high school days and wanted to know if I could supply any details.

Here are some very interesting details he has shared in our continuing correspondence: He left us in our junior year to join the US Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he was recruited by Texas Instruments and moved to England. While he was in the Navy, a fire at his St. Pete home destroyed items such as his freshman Viking Log and his 1958 class ring that was sent to him when he received a graduation certificate from the Navy (after 2 years of Electronic Computer School).

He recalls being in classes with Rena Counts and with Connie Counts. He remembers topping by the gas station that Rena's family owned and where she worked. He also remembered a good friendship with George Siemers, and said he wondered whatever happened to him.He remembers George as a "really good and caring friend...he loved to play the piano."

Jim recalls when he was sent to "some newly established base called Port Canaveral...had many a fight with alligators, armadillos, snakes, sharks, rays and jellyfish." He recalls the days of the Polaris Project when "it was in its infancy." For several years, Jim had a house in Norfolk, VA on a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.

Jim, who like Dave Larson, has a talent for writing, belongs to a writer's circle in his community. Here's a sample of how he describes the current state of England (which blew my romantic concepts all to pieces): "Gone are the sleepy villages, the polite rural life, genteel coffee mornings at the local church, and living where the most heinous crime was that someone has stolen Mrs. Brown's milk again or someone rode off on Archibalt's bike and left it next to the fence on the square."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Let's Promote Each Other

As we have become re-connected as a senior class, we have found that some of us are happily retired. Some are partly retired, but maintaining a sideline revenue-producing career. And some are still working more-or-less fulltime.

Lately, I have been gearing up to do some "ghost writing"---not just somebody's life story but short articles commissioned by somebody on an Internet web site. My background as a writer enables me to work fast, research effectively, and produce copy in short order.

So...the thought occurred to me...maybe some of you out there would like to get the word out about whatever kind of work you do, with contact information for potential customers. If that's something that appeals to you, drop me a note at with the details. I'll put the information you authorize in a blog posting. And who knows? We could get a network going that helps a lot of us.

Let me know what you think.

Memory Joggers

I was just looking through a 1958 copy of "Soundings", the NEHS literary magazine, when I turned to the advertisers' pages at the back of the book. See if any of these business names bring back any memories:

Fremac's Men's and Boys Wear. Dog 'N Suds Drive In (at US 19 and 53rd Ave. N.) The Huddle (on 9th St. N.) Swanson's Super Market (on 4th St. N. Owned by Lynn Swanson's dad.) P.K. Smith and Co. (office supplies. That store was our version of Office Depot).

Counts Home and Auto Supply (Haines Road and 24th St. Was that owned by Rena's family or Connie's family?) Hood's Dairy. 5 Point Hardware (9th St. N. at 33rd Ave.) Ed's Chateau (a pizza place at Haines Road and US 19 intersection, long before we ever saw a Pizza Hut or a Hungry Howie's or Domino's).

Willson-Chase Co. (a department store on Central Ave. owned by Jim Willson's family). Slap Happy 5 & 10 (9th St. N. and 33rd Ave. Remember that long-ago phrase "The five-and-dime", our version of the discount store back then?) Glass Inn (2600 4th St. N. featuring "the best dressed chicken in St. Pete" and "Pennsylvania Dutch treats".)

Some names of note in this issue of "The Soundings": Sharon Thompson editor-in-chief; Linda Crain, managing editor; June Sharpe, advertising editor. Linda contributed a book review to the issue of the magazine. Judi Stacey wrote several poems in the edition, too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What If.......?

The class reunion we just experienced was possible in large part because of the Internet and cell phones. People became "detectives", scouting across the nation for names not yet located, so that we could send those people invitations.

I got to thinking....what if we had had cell phones (like every teenager seems to have now) when we were in Northeast High classes? And what if we had had computers at home with access to the Internet?

1. Those "notes" on paper that we passed to each other ("Meet me in the cafeteria", "At 1:30 everybody drop their books on the floor"), would have been unnecessary. We would have text-messaged each other, and the teacher could never have caught us with the guilty evidence of paper "notes".

2. The cell phones would have put our social lives on full-throttle speed because we could reach our friends (platonic, romantic, whatever) all during the day rather than using the family phone when we got home or a pay phone (if we had the coins).

3. Access to the Internet would have saved me a lot of trips to Haslam's Bookstore on Central Ave. to find back issues of magazines. I wouldn't have had to deal with Lucy Lanphear in the school library (actually, she never gave me any problems) and I wouldn't have had to deal with the "card catalogue" , where books had complicated classification numbers.

4. Access to the Internet would have meant I could have researched a term paper in a few hours on one evening instead of making multiple trips to the library, looking for books that somebody faster than I had already checked out.

5. Researching a college to attend would have been an Internet project, not a matter of looking over a bunch of college catalogs in the school library or the guidance office.

6. And wouldn't it have been fun to "Google" our friends by looking for their names on the Internet? Back in those high school days, our private lives were known only by close friends, family members, and for the girls, the pages of a personal "diary". Nowadays, our lives are open books, subject to research by anyone from St. Petersburg to Tokyo.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Gifts That Go On Giving

One of the upshots of our 2008 Reunion was the creation of a scholarship fund with the St. Petersburg College Foundation. The funds go to help students from Northeast High pay for their education at SPC (formerly St. Petersburg Junior College).

Karolyn Bagg Foreman sent along this donors list:

In the Viking group ($1000 to $2499) are: Aloyse (Flood) and Dave Larson; Bruce and Jeannie Little, and Karolyn (Bagg) and Steve Foreman.

In the Thors group ($500-$999) are: Buck Merritt, Pat (Smith) and Frank Kapocsi, David Britner, and Judy (Baker) and Jim Philson.

In the Warriors group ($200-$499) are: Marion (Kline) and Errol Zeiger; Bruce and Roberta Hugill, Carol (Rupert) and Robert Buss, Ann (Leedy) and Ben Bartlett, and Carley (Freck) and Laird Bryson.

In the Shields group ($100-$199) are: Jean (Robertson) Champ, Gary and Phoebe Billing, Larry and Judy Fannin, Skip and Betty Cleveland, Kathleen (Hutchins) Hintz, Margie (Meyer) and Ed Smith, Larry Britner, Judy (Huber) and Tim Grissette, Robert and Rebecca Forman, Martha (Heath) and Rudy Baker, Terry (Reichelderfer) and Ed Stinson, Trudy (Andringa) and John Krege, Duane Tobey and Bill and Eva Redman.

In the Explorers group ($50-$99) are: Jean (Sheridan) Clark, Helen (Leigh) Wagner, Clarice (Slover) and Mike Coughlin, Larry Thompson, Ralph and Brenda Ames, Joan (Moody) and Ted Vetter.

In the Dragons group ($49 and under) are: Jean (Davis) Brown, Ben and Joy Wall, Dale Davis, and John Hardman.

Vikings in South Florida

Barbara Monrose Parrish wrote to say she and her husband will be entertaining a daughter and grandkids (from Deland) for the month of July. Then they'll set off on an odyssey (that's an English major word for "long trip") to California with plans to take a leisurely return trip back by going wherever they feel like going.

Carolyn Gramling McAleese just got back from a packed week of family activities. Her daughter Cindy and granddaughter flew down from the Carolinas, and then they all headed over to Sarasota to see son Steve and his family. Carolyn will soon be getting back in the hospital routine of training mothers-to-be about that landmark we call "Labor and Delivery".

Doug and Jan Hotalen in Key West lost their son Kent to cancer recently. Your prayers and expressions of friendship would be meaningful to them, I'm sure.

Updated Memory Books

Some of you purchased the Memory Books at the class reunion--red looseleaf notebooks with names, addresses and bios of classmates.

Already that book needs to be updated, with additional people who have been located and with some additional bio material that has come through the email round-robin.

When I complete the update, you'll see a notice on this blogsite. To get the whole book, including looseleaf notebook and shipping, the cost will be about $20. However, for those of you with email addresses, and who perhaps already have the original book, I will set a lesser charge. Then I can email you the document for you to print out.

Personally, I keep my Memory Book right beside my computer because the names, addresses and phone numbers come in handy.