Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parkview Pride!

In our former life, we lived in central Indiana near the town of New Castle. When we first moved to that area, there was both a J. C. Penny's store and a Sears store downtown. We spent many winters doing our Christmas shopping on Main Street. And as most Main Streets have died, giving way to Wal-Marts and malls, so did the Main Street in New Castle. Both Penny's and Sears are long gone. Somehow, however, the employees of Sears managed to stay in touch with one another and we would often see a notice in the community section of the local newspaper announcing the "former Sears employees" would be holding their monthly get together. I found that both amusing and incredible that people who worked together actually wanted to continue their association long after their business was gone.

For 20+ years I taught ninth-grade business and keyboarding at the junior high in New Castle. Our junior high had the distinction of being the only one in the state that was comprised of only eighth and ninth graders. There were 1100 students in those two grades when I started there in 1977 and when I left four years ago, there were not that many students in the newly restructured high school that now holds grades 9-12.

During my tenure at the junior high, named Parkview Jr. High, our staff was mostly hired by one man, Lew Larrison, who was the first principal of the junior high when it was built in the 70's and he remained there for . . . a long time. There is no doubt that the cohesiveness of the staff had a lot to do with the man at the helm. Not only was he a leader, but he was a compassionate and caring individual who made us feel we were the absolute best and that is why he picked us to be educators in his building. In fact, he recently told one of my friends and colleague that he felt looking back on his life, his legacy was the people he brought to the community.

Last year as we made plans to visit the area for our fall doctor appointments, a fellow retiree who is also an RVer suggested we invite some former colleagues we would like to see and have a "little" pitch-in. So we made a few phone calls and were pleasantly surprised when people showed up to share the evening with us. So this year, as we again discussed the possibility of another "reunion," we again made plans to coincide with our fall visit to the state park. The shelter was reserved, we called around and word soon spread.

We started gathering at 4 pm and I think the final count was 35. Wow! What a showing! We had some familiar faces from last year and some new faces. But the most special was when our former boss showed up! Now in his 80's, Mr. Larrison knew us all. He was amazed that after all these years, these people who he had brought together as a staff, still found they enjoyed one another's company to gather together and reminisce. (In fact, when he left tonight, we all called out, "Thanks for hiring us!") The junior high as we knew it back then, is no more, having been "restructured," but our friendships remain and we had a great time. We had dinner, then visited with one another and sat around the portable campfire. We are not all retired, some are still working. . . but we are like those Sears employee who just can't seem to let go of those with whom we shared a good part of our lives.

Great food, great times, great people. . . it just doesn't get any better than that!

Till next time. . .



Snackmaster & Jan said...

That is so great Dale. There is little to compare to friendships that last through the years. So glad you had that opportunity to reconnect with many of your former "work-mates". Your boss showing up must have been the frosting on the cake:-)


Alicia said...

Sounds like you had a great time and worked with some great people. I feel the same way about my fellow school bus drivers. Maybe I should work on a reunion of some sort in the near future. Thanks for shareing.

Dale said...

Jan, thanks for your comment. It was indeed the frosting on the cake to have Mr. Larrison there. These people are really special.

Alicia, go for it! We just started simple. . . rented a shelter at the state park where we camp when in the area. Everybody brings food. Not a lot of setup. . . just a great time!