Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Glenville II • Friendly Reunion

Yesterday I posted about getting together for lunch with some of my childhood friends. A few of our readers wrote me directly to wish us well for the reunion; one said he would like “to be a fly on the wall” when we got together. Another reader suggested I expand this piece as a rebuttal to the falsehoods currently being spread about the universal perversity of the inner city by he who will remain unnamed but must be forcefully rejected at the polls.

Four of us did meet and had a grand time. As might be expected we ran our mouths for more than 20 minutes before anybody even looked at the menu. Our waitress was gracious enough to snap a few photos of us.

Charles Stith, Charles Brown, Virgil Brown, Richard Andrews

The photos and the conversation sparked a lot of reflection and reminiscence on the part of all. What struck me when I got home and looked at the picture Charles had already posted to Facebook was the sudden realization that with my whole family of origin having passed, these three gents are the folks I’ve known the longest in life.

Charlie, Virgil and Charles were all born in Cleveland. Virgil and Charles were kindergarten classmates whose houses backed up one to the other. Charlie’s family moved almost directly across the street from me the year after my family moved here from Washington DC.

Those who believe the nonsense of a certain prevaricating pretender to the presidency would have all of us inner city public school products following some path of pathology, but the reality is quite different.

There are of course myriad threads that have bound us together over the years, and those memories and shared experiences are part of what we celebrated. But we also reveled in the understanding that none of the obvious differences among us had impaired our relationship. As Virgil noted, we may have fallen out with one another at times, but at this stage none of that matters.

As for the variety of human experience embodied in our tiny quartet, consider that among our cohort is a conscientious objector and a Vietnam vet [his book about the experience is now in its second printing[1]]; a teetotaler and a recovering alcoholic; we even have a Republican by birth and affinity.

We are all fathers who love and support our children, the vast majority of whom have moved far away, living in Florida and California to be sure, but also in Australia, Turkey, and Hong Kong. Charlie and I even share a niece and nephew in common, as his eldest sister and my older brother were married for a time.

There are others whose names we called today who have traveled this era and area with us, still others who have passed on in military uniform or hospital garb. They too were part of our celebration today.

Most of you reading this no doubt find parallels to these variegated patterns in your own longitudinal friendships. I hope you feel as fortunate as we four marvelous if not magnificent men.[2]

Bangkok by Christmas, 2d ed.,
by Charles M. Stith
[1] Trafford Publishing, 2016 []. 

[2] Only after finishing this piece did I realize that each of us was named after his father. Three of us learned today there is a Charles Ellis Brown V.

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