I attended a Martin Family Reunion at my cousin, Brian’s house in August. He showed a reel of old family pictures. The funny looking young people in the long ago photos brought a lot of laughs to the new young people. I saw a few pictures of myself I had never seen, they were taken by Brian’s folks. This picture of me and my first (official) girlfriend was among them.
I was clicking around the internet looking for possible contact with anyone involved with class of 1970 reunions at Jefferson High School in Portland; I served my freshman year there, but never made it to a reunion. I found a couple classmates that went from Kenton Elementary School to Jefferson. That led to a couple more classmates, and that led to a suggestion that we have a Kenton class reunion. Five or six of us met at a restaurant in Portland and became the planning committee. That meeting itself was a precious reunion. At one point when Bill Dunlap laughed, that sound went into my ears, into my memory banks, and instantly registered a solid confirmation even though I hadn’t heard that laugh in 35 years. Amazing!
We divided up our list of classmate’s names to try to contact. I was happy to see my old girl friend, Carol Leech, was on my list; it would be fun to contact her. I eventually reached her in Washington by phone. We must have talked for an hour and a half. We talked about all things relevant when you haven’t seen or spoken to each other since eighth grade. At one point, she asked if she could speak to my wife. I handed the phone to Diane, and Carol proceeded to tell her what a wonderful young man I was, so many years ago. I got her address and promised to send the reunion invitation when they were printed.
The “Kenton 8th Grade Class of 1966 Turns Fifty” class reunion invitations were mailed out and confirmations began coming in. A couple weeks passed and I hadn’t seen anything from Carol so I called to see if she had received the invitation, she had not. I told her I would send another, but I also confirmed the date and time. I asked hopefully if she thought she would make it. She said she would if money and health allowed. I told her it would be my honor if she would let me pay for her dinner, to please not let that stop her from attending.
The event was held at the McMenamins Kennedy School in Portland, the evening of October 5th, 2002. Turnout was fair, conversation and dinner was good. How did these 8th graders get so old? I was really looking forward to seeing Carol, but she didn’t make it. I did not yet own a digital camera, but a classmate, Mike King, emailed a few pictures he took at the event. I forwarded them to her, but got no reply. After a few days an email arrived with this message: Hi, this is Carol’s daughter. I see you were corresponding with my mom, so I thought you should know that she died.