It started innocently enough.
Brother Bill was coming into my neck of the woods for a high school reunion. He couldn’t remember which one it was. (My best guess is it was #58!) The initial dinner was going to be at the home of his classmates Jeri and Jerry. Bill thought it would be fun for me to go. I knew J&J but hadn’t seen them in #$%@ years.
I figured I wouldn’t know many of the people there but it was a chance to spend some time with Bill. So I went.
The best reaction that I got from one person was, “I don’t know your name but your Bill’s sister. You look just like him. You both look like your dad!”
The best going away remark was, “I have known you forever. But I can’t remember your name!”
We all grew up in that magical place called Lindsay. We all grew up together. We went to school together from kindergarten to high school graduation. I say “we”, even though they were six years ahead of me in school, because their brothers and sisters were in my class or close to my class. We all went to the same football games, attended dances at the Veteran’s hall, had the same teachers.
Shaped by an agricultural economy and a shared history of small town life, each had a story of escapades that ended with them being sent home by the town’s only police officer. If it was serious enough, Tony told the parents. Sometimes, he just gave a warning–and kept the information for later use.
Cell phones were unnecessary. There was the small town communication system. A little misbehavior, a breaking of a boundary was conveyed to the parent before the kid got home. Teachers knew about you before you ever entered their classroom. A sibling might have preceded you or they went to the same church. Maybe they belonged to the same service club that your dad attended. It was a network of overt spies meant to keep us kids protected and corralled.
My mother always told me to stay out of the orange groves. She put the fear of death into me. There were strange people in there that ate little girls. I was quite sure that the story of Hansel and Gretel actually took place in an orange grove.
I learned this weekend that there WERE strange people in the orange groves. Strange people like my brothers and their friends. They were all having a good time away from the prying eyes of the network spies. (Sorry, I promised not to divulge any identifying specifics. But it sure was interesting stuff!)
Some of the people at the reunion hadn’t seen me in 40 years or more (mostly more!). Their welcome of me was wonderful. They are my history and I theirs.
Thank you, Bill and Jeri&Jerry for allowing me to share this weekend with you.