Erica–It Could Have Happened

Baker High School 2

Erica

The other day, I got a message on one of my Face book posts. It said

“Hi John, I am not very good at posting. …things happen & I don’t how.You do amazing work. And I really enjoy following your posts.
HAPPY NEW YEAR”
And the years fell away.

She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her as she slowly stepped down and away from the military school bus. He fell in love as he watched her pony tail move from one shoulder to the other when she turned her head to look at something off to the left.

She carried herself erect and he loved the way her kilt plaid wrap around skirt swayed from side to side as she walked toward the school entrance. He took time to wonder if the four inch gold safety pin that held the skirt together was actually functional. His eyes moved from her penny loafers to the collar on her bright white blouse.

She cradled a couple of textbooks in her right hand, nestling them next to her breast and the eleventh grade boy wanted nothing more at that point than to be a textbook. A particular textbook.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I was that boy. I was sixteen and preparing to be a senior in high school. I stood six foot three inches tall and all of the other kids teased me all the time about my skinny legs. They called me “highpockets” and asked things like, “How’s the weather up there?”

The year was 1962 and I was a student at Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia. Baker was a large, twenty year old, two story brick edifice situated near Fort Benning. It had wooden floors, high ceilings, and lots of tall windows. Fort Benning sent busloads of high school students there and these kids joined the thousand or so local students, filling the school to the bursting point. There were a lot of pretty girls, too, and I appreciated every one of them. They came in all shapes and sizes and hair colors and most of them were delightful.

But that one day in May, I saw a girl who stole my heart and filled it with fantasies. Before I could find out who she was, though, the final week of school went by and then school was out for the summer. I drove a tractor that summer, cutting grass at the airport. I had a lot of time to think about my muse.

The following year, my senior year, was a good one. In English class, I met an interesting guy named Jim who had been in the army and was now finishing high school. He seemed so mature! He told me lots of stories. One day, at the end of the first week of school, Jim said, “Man, you wouldn’t believe the teacher’s aide girl in the drama class.” I took that as a challenge, got a library pass, and walked past the drama classroom at the proper time.

There she sat, the girl of my dreams. She was grading papers or something while the teacher went on about some guy marrying his mother. I guess that’s ok if it turns you on, but I couldn’t get my thoughts away from the beautiful girl. I asked, and Jim told me her name was Erica. A Nordic name for a Nordic beauty.

I immediately decided that I wanted to devote my life to the study of drama. I convinced the guidance counselor that taking the drama class instead of the current wood shop would fulfill my life-time dreams. I told her that without a drama class, my life would be sad and wasted. She bought it. I got to switch from wood shop to drama class. I found out all too soon that I should have checked out that teacher. She was meaner than a snake.

But the teacher didn’t matter at first. I sat and admired Erica. She would sit in total concentration as she made out the absentee report. She took my breath away when she was asked to write something on the blackboard and when she reached up to erase what had been written the day before, swaying with a rhythm…well, you get the picture.

I knew, though, that all I could do was watch her because I was sure there was absolutely no way someone that beautiful would go out with me. She was like a painting, to be admired and enjoyed from a distance. So I did the best I could in the class and just enjoyed being in the same room with Erica for 55 minutes a day.

But the teacher was extremely mean and bullying. She took an immediate dislike to me and made my life miserable. I couldn’t do anything right and it quickly got to the point that I had to weigh the joys of seeing Erica with the misery of Miss Johnson. One day Miss Johnson won out.

“John, you are worthless. I can’t imagine how you got this far in school.”

All the other students laughed at me.
I replied something sensitive like, “go get you a corncob you ugly old hog.”
She didn’t like that and told me to get out.
So I did.

I knew of a good place to go that was private and under a stairwell where I could read my book instead of going to the fifth period class. I kept thinking that I would get turned in for skipping class and get in trouble. I also knew that I was going to make an F in the class and incur the wrath of my Dad.

But, nothing happened. Day after day I skipped the class and read my book in the stairwell. When report cards came out, I was surprised to see that instead of an F I had gotten a B in Drama. I thought, “oh, well, maybe I’m just lucky.” I kept on reading my book under the stairwell for an hour a day.

Fall moved into winter and winter into spring. One day in March, Erica came and found me in my stairwell. My God, she was lovely. She stood in front of me and said, “John, you have to start coming to class again. Your friend Jim has gotten Miss Johnson pregnant and she lost her job and he got kicked out of school and we’re getting a new drama teacher.” So, I did as I was told and went to class and admired Erica while I enjoyed the new instructor.

Then we graduated and I went off to college.

The picture of Erica stayed in my head for years and, though I never saw her again, I never forgot her.
Years later I ended up in Rome, Georgia.
Now we will think about a big bridge. A lot of water went under that bridge. Forward to 1998.

It turned out that Mr Richardson who was the industrial arts department head at Baker, had also graduated from Berry College in the early fifties and I lived only a few miles from Berry College. Mister Richardson came to an event at the college, looked me up, and took me out to dinner.

“Why haven’t you been to a high school reunion?” he asked.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing.” I replied.

And it turned out that no one had been able to find me.

And, So, after more water under that bridge, after I had become single, sober, and almost sixty years old, I was invited to the fortieth reunion of the class of 1963. I got in my blue pick up truck and drove down to attend.

All sorts of people were happy to see me. There was a big banquet and a disc jockey who played things like “Smoke gets in your eyes,” and “I’m Mr. Blue.”

The lady in charge of affairs came up to me, took me by the hand and led me to a table where she showed me my place card. She sat me down. I was looking around, speaking to people I had known, watching others sit at my big round table and all of a sudden I felt a marvelous fragrance.
I turned to my right where a lady had sat down beside me and my jaw dropped as I noticed that it was…

Her—It was her

It was Erica

And she was lovely.

We talked as we ate

We danced to all the slow tunes
And she didn’t ask “how’s the weather up there” because she was six feet tall.

And while we were dancing, she stood back and said,
“John I always had such a big crush on you.”

I was amazed. I was smitten, I couldn’t keep track of the thoughts rushing through my head.
“I loved you from afar.” I said.

“Why didn’t you ever ask me out?” she asked with sadness in her eyes.

“I never thought I would have a chance and I couldn’t have handled being turned down.” We danced a bit more.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I never knew.”

She looked me in the eyes—“I tried,” she said, “When you got kicked out of the class I lied about your attendance and saw to it that you didn’t get an F. I came to get you when the new teacher showed up. And I knew right where to find you all the time. Did you not see that?”
I hung my head…”I never knew.”

And so, we talked in the hotel’s hospitality room most of the night. We talked about our lives and about me being a landscaper in Rome, Georgia and her being an executive secretary somewhere on the west coast.

That night, I asked, “Would you like to have breakfast in the morning before we have to go back to our homes?”

“I would love to,” she replied

I hesitated and asked, “Shall I call you or nudge you?”

She looked at the wall for a long time.
“I guess you’d better call me.”

And then she kissed me on the cheek and left.

We had breakfast the next morning and she kissed me on the cheek and left again.

John Schulz March 16, 2017

Everything is going to be all right

Baker High School 2

Gifts–A Boy’s Memories

remembering the boy

As the boy grows into a man and the man grows into a boy.

Gifts

1952
He sat quietly in the grass with his birthday pocket knife,
Carefully carving a small boat from a large piece of pine bark.
Excited about the shape taking place in his hands
Excited about his new-found ability to make something,
He never noticed the pain or the blood dripping to the dust
From the cut on his finger.
He could make a boat.
He could sail it down the gutters after a rain
He could do anything.
The seven year old boy was invincible.

1953
They had told him that he couldn’t have a bicycle until he was 8.
September was far, far away that year, but it finally showed up
And, as promised, a shiny, new, Schwinn Bicycle entered his life.
He had a new freedom. A freedom of territory, of adventure.
He never noticed the pain or the blood dripping to his shoe
From the skinned place on his knee.
His knife in one pocket
His boat in the other,
He rode off to the city lake
To be a pirate.

1954
The new radio had arrived. The radio that would bring in the world.
At first, he wondered about the little people inside the box
As he listened to The Shadow, and to Rosemary Clooney
On a Saturday morning while he enjoyed purloined cupcakes
Closed up in his room but with his eye on the universe
He was Lash Larue, Roy Rogers
He waited for the rain to end
And the moment when he could ride his bike
And conquer all of the bad guys.
For, you see, he was invincible.

1957
A first baseman’s mitt, a baseball bat, and a new career.
He sat in the dugout with Mickey Mantle, discussing the game’s finer points.
The boy waved at the crowd and pointed his bat to the centerfield fence
As he prepared to hit the game winning homer for the series
And bring in Ted Williams and Willie Mays who were stuck on base.
Two strikes and three balls
Full count, bottom of the ninth inning
The pitch, low, curving to the outside
The crack of the bat echoed through the hills
As he watched the ball fly off into the universe.

1961
The summer long he had worked and saved to come up with enough money
He gave himself a birthday present that year, having mowed fifteen yards
And saved every bit of it for the purchase of his new portable radio.
The boy, who was about to reach a height of six feet this year
Fastened the radio to the handlebars of his bike
And delivered the daily news papers
As Del Shannon called for his Runaway
Roy Orbison was Cryin’ over you
And Chubby Checker yelled, “It’s Pony Time.”

1972
He had worked hard all summer building a greenhouse and finding plants
And this year he had two toys, the plant place for exploring an inner world
And a young son who loved to sit on the gravel floor with him, laugh
And carve boats out of pine bark. Together they were invincible .
Together they explored important things like fishing worms and butterflies
And they built an elf man garden
And walked through it in their fantasies
And sat on the rocks in their minds
As they talked of the best ways to kill dragons.

2008
And her father said, “There’s your Christmas present. Take good care of it.”
And the boy, who was no longer a boy, asked, “The gift is your daughter?”
And the father replied, “Yes, but there is a no return policy.”
And the boy who was no longer a boy went off to unwrap his gift.
And together they went off to explore the universe that they shared.
They laughed at the dragons and chased them away
They lived through the troubles with caresses and tears.
They walked down the street holding hands
And they went to a baseball game every now and then.

2016
“There’s nothing as satisfying as a good pair of pruning shears,” he said
As he carefully considered a new cut on the beautiful bonsai tree.
He reached over slowly, positioned the cutters just so, and slowly snipped.
He smiled as he sat back and studied the ancient looking tree before him.
“Look,” he said, if you study it you can find the world, the freedom of flight.
A bonsai tree should be pruned so that a bird can fly through it.
If I concentrate, I can become a bird and fly right through…
There.” He smiled and pointed.
“The tree represents the past and the future.” He said

He considered carving a boat and sailing it down the gutter in a rain.
He had become the boy again in a larger, older body
But, still the boy.

Paul Schulz, March 9, 2016

Paul and Edna 3

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald—

The main thing I can tell you about Paul is that he was full of love. He loved his wife, Edna with an intensity that few could know. Paul loved his family, his mother, Barbara, his niece Margot His brother, J.R., and J.R.’s wife, Christine, and his granny, Jane Schulz. Paul also loved Dekie, his step-mother. He loved his uncles, aunts, and cousins, and he loved to get hugs from just about everybody. I never had any doubts that he loved me, his “daddy-o.” –And everyone loved Paul.

Paul was full of humor and laughter. He could wring a laugh out of the saddest person. He loved to make people laugh just because he loved people and he wanted them to be happy.

Paul was helpful. If you ever needed help with anything, all you had to do was call Paul and he would be there with a smile on his face. He was independent, too. He rarely asked for much of anything.

Paul was kind. He hated seeing anybody or anything being mistreated. On the other hand, he loved children—and they loved him. He loved cats and dogs and they loved him. He knew just which spots needed petting. I guess you could say that about his treatment of people, too. He knew just which psychological spots needed stroking. He knew how to make you feel good.

When Paul wanted something he went after it wide open. When he figured out that he loved Edna, I watched as he bought a house, fixed it up, landscaped the yard, and then got married and moved in. One of my fondest Paul stories is of the time he was doing some intricate wiring on a sprinkler system. He got aggravated, looked at me and said, “Damn, Dad. Don’t give me something like this to do. Give me a sledge hammer and a brick wall to take out.” Paul would get frustrated at times, but he would work his way around it.

A few weeks ago, Paul and I drove up to see his granny—that is, Paul drove, I rode along and listened to his memories, thoughts, and philosophical ramblings. At one point, Paul started giggling. I asked why and he replied, “I was just thinking about when I was four or five and granny and I were playing baseball in the pasture and she slid and sat down on some cow dookie. That was funny. We laughed and laughed.”

He knew an amazing assortment of seemingly un-related facts. One of his rules was, “only bet on a sure thing,” and he stuck with it, too. If you ever made a bet with Paul you were sure to lose.

I’ll bet you one thing, Paul—I’m sure going to miss you.
Tell Billy say hi for me

Paul and the worm

Spring is on the way…

Pansy through the window

 

“Come, fill the Cup, and the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! The Bird is on the Wing.
–Omar Khayyam—

Through the cold and rain I see
A pretty pansy calls to me.
The buds swell on the maple tree,
And longer days are calling me.

The wind brings in the cold and yet
I gaze beyond the dreary wet,
And find a mood of gentle cheer
To know that Spring is drawing near.

Share a smile with everyone around you
Everything is going to be all right
John P. Schulz, Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days

Now Available As An ebook World Wide with Amazon

Sam with sweetie

“At its core, this wonderfully honest autobiography becomes a love story: love of life, love of language, love of Sweetie, who drives on chemo days.”–Lee Walburn–

Announcing the availability of Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days by John P. Schulz as an ebook on Amazon–and it’s available in a lot of countries world-wide. At the end of this article I have provided an url for a Free app that will load the ability to read Kindle books on your phone, ipad, other pad, or computer. You will no longer have to purchase a dedicated reading machine.

Here’s what Lee Walburn has to say about Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days:

“On John Schulz’s long journey toward cancer survivorship, he surrendered his voice box, he lost touch with his taste buds. But, he didn’t lose his battle and he didn’t lose his unique literary style. In Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days, John makes us laugh, makes us cry, makes us smarter as we join him on his medical odyssey. At its very core this wonderfully honest autobiography becomes a love story: Love of life, love of language, love of Sweetie who drives on chemo days.
–Lee Walburn, Editor, Columnist, Author
“Just My Type, 50 Years Preserved in Ink”

When I first started out on my cancer journey, I wanted to know a lot of things. I found that the doctors would answer my questions but would not volunteer any information. I also found that I didn’t know what questions to ask. I set out on a mission to write a book that would help the beginning cancer patient and caregivers to feel better about things.

And, according to many readers, the book works. It is full of answers, full of love, and it passes on the mantra:

“Everything is going to be all right.”

We are all affected by cancer, through ourselves, loved ones, friends–Cancer touches all of us sooner or later. Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days is an easy, informative, feel good read. Try it. Tell your friends.

To “see inside” and read a few pages and
To purchase the ebook, Click Here   

To download a Kindle app, Click Here

Sweetie cover with Amazon link

Click the cover to see it on Amazon and to “see inside” Read a few pages. I’ll bet you’ll like it.

Please share this article with your friends and others who need it.
Thank you all for your love, caring, and support
Everything is going to be all right.
John P. Schulz

Introspection On A Winter’s Day…

winter flower

 

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”—Albert Camus—

Having known a beautiful summer’s day, we can always travel back there in our minds. Having known happy times, we can return to the moment and find happiness. Having found happiness, we can enhance its values by sharing it with others.

Commit a random act of kindness today.
Share a smile.
Everything is going to be all right.

John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

Time To Open A New Door..

open a new door

“We all want to break our orbits, float like a satellite gone wild in space, run the risk of disintegration. We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.”—David Bottoms—

It is time to begin with optimism, a new hope, and a bit of adventure. Reach out to touch someone new.

Open a door for the first time.
Before the day is over, laugh out loud for no apparent reason.

Share a smile
Everything is going to be all right.

John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

Water Over The Dam

Water over the dam

 

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”–C. S. Lewis–

Today is a good day to think about and check up on some friends that you haven’t seen in a while. I will make them feel good that you took the time to see how they are doing. It will make you both feel good to share a smile and a laugh. Tell them that John said,

“Everything is going to be all right.”

John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

Happiness is Contagious…

Happiness is contagious

 

“Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. It should be the first duty of those who are happy to let others know of their gladness.”—Maurice Maeterlinck—

This reminds me of the gloom that was spread by the media during the past year. It WAS contagious.
But happiness will conquer it.
Counteract the sadness and negativism that is around you today. Let’s all join in to make  happiness the norm instead of fear and gloom.

Share a smile and a kind word with lots of people.
Tell everyone you see that “Everything is going to be all right.”

John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

Catch The Day And Caress It…

bloom through adversity

 

. “I beseech you, little brothers, that you be as wise as brother Daisy and brother dandelion; for never do they lie awake thinking of tomorrow, yet they have gold crowns like kings and emperors or like Charlemagne in all his glory.”—G.K. Chesterton—

Have a wonderful day!
Share lots of smiles and reach out to catch the returns
Everything is going to be all right.

John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

Previous Older Entries

Blog Stats

  • 18,975 hits