I hope this message finds you all well. The biggest news since my last submission happens to be the saddest. A week or two after my contribution of notes for the alumni magazine last year, Leonard Frenkil shared the news of Christian Darby’s passing. Christian had a remarkable life, and several classmates shared some heartfelt recollections in our class email string. I had been told that some of those remarks were shared at Christian’s funeral. One of Christian’s favorite places was Nantucket. Leonard was kind enough to start a GoFundMe page, and used the funds to purchase and install a nice teak bench outside of Christian’s sister’s store in Nantucket, with a plaque saying, “In Joyful Memory of a Fabulous Man.”
The year was also filled with the loss of many of our great and wonderful parents; sadly, too many to include in these notes. As the years pass, the frequency of these events seems to be increasing logarithmically. We are swiftly losing that great generation that helped raise and guide us.
On the good news side of things, Hal Burnett and I will be participating in the Great Race for eight days in my wreck of a 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe wagon. We will be participating with 149 other antique cars, traveling from St. Augustine, Florida, to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I will be the driver and Hal the navigator. No GPS or cell phones allowed, our odometer must be disabled, and Hal navigates with paper directions and a stopwatch. Along the way, the 150 of us become the town festivals in eight cities for lunch and eight cities for dinner and sleep over. There are various purses, with combined winnings of over $100k. The race is intentionally arduous on the cars, and we are told if our vehicle finishes the race, we should consider ourselves winners. It should be a hoot!
I had a great visit with Doug Hoffman in Hagerstown. Dougie and family moved from his parish in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, to a beautiful and substantial-in-size historic church in Hagerstown. My company was doing a project only a few blocks away, so during one of my site visits, I paid a surprise visit to our great class Reverend. Doug noted he was very happy to have his family back in the great state of Maryland.
Caroline and I had a nice one-night stay in Connecticut at Morgan Farm on our way up to Squam Lake in New Hampshire. As with the prior year, Anthony and Jess Morgan packed huge bags of fresh vegetables from their massive gardens, and master baker Jess left us with some of her sublime sourdough bread for our pending vacation. Anthony is still keeping Connecticut on its feet as a podiatrist, and Jess is still working with United Healthcare when she is not out riding her horse. They have made a wonderful place for themselves in the northeast.
Joe Morelos, who is still saving lives in Philly, shared that he had a wonderful trip to Kawai, Hawaii. “Everyone was saying, ‘You gotta hike the Hawaiian Grand Canyon, Joe!’ I was like, uh, that involves moving around, right? I look at all the pics I took on my phone of the island from the air, (we took an airplane island tour), and I just laugh — they all look the same!”
Tom Snider and I had lunch with Steve Siwinski in Catonsville in late December. Tom is still working in IT, but he has also taken up a strong interest in high-level physics. While I will admit to having enjoyed reading books by Einstein and Richard Feynman, Tom was speaking on a plane that was well beyond my ability to stay with him. And heck, he even stumped Steve Siwinski, one of our esteemed science teachers! I think Tom has a new second career waiting for him if he ever gets bored with the IT world.
During the holidays, my clan and I were in the Pacific Northwest skiing, so I missed a fine gathering of ’81ers. Terry Swindell sent out a big blast text and was able to get Sandy Brown, Bob Blue, Tim Jackson, Cotton Swindell, and Rick Diehl for cocktails at The Point in Towson. Tom Finney had to bow out with the flu, Billy Slaughter suggested that he could not join everyone because he was just getting out of a Mexican prison, and Del Dressel was in post-op recovery from dual knee surgery.
Del also shared, “My son is in his second year at the Tech, and I’ve been blessed with being surrounded with the Gilman family from so many perspectives. What a blessing we were given!”
In February, Maija Jackson threw a big birthday bash for Tim Jackson’s 60th. Tim shared a terrific group photo that included Michael Mardiney, Mac Ford, Sandy Brown, Bob Blue, Terry Swindell, and Rick Diehl.
Last June, our class knife maker, Marcus Ranum, shared a video of a gas “beast forge” he had built. He added, “I made it out of 16" 3/8 steel pipe. I formed and cast all the refractory and designed and built the air/propane mixing system. I put the controls to the side, which turns out to have been a good idea. Today I got it up to 2700F inside which is up well into welding heat, which means I can make blades again now.” Marcus is still making custom knives and turning exotic wood bowls as a hobbyist, although the quality of his work is quite professional. Enter Marcus Ranum Badger Forge on your search engine, if you would like to see some of his handiwork.
Sorry to say, but that’s all your Classless Secretary has for you this year. Like Tim Jackson, I suspect that most of us are turning 60 this year, and I hope all who are, will be doing something special to honor the big occasion.
Best to you all.