We often hear about people going through a mid-life crisis; it often arrives with a person’s fortieth birthday. Being in my sixties, I’d like to think it comes later in life. I don’t like thinking that my life is more than half over. Come to think of it, if my life was a football game, I may be in the fourth quarter! Maybe I’ll be lucky and go into overtime. Of course, it would have to be considered ‘sudden death’ overtime.
Enough of that! Let’s talk about my mid-life crisis… regardless of how long ago I experienced it.
The thing that bothered me most – and still does – is that many of the fine people I’ve met during my lifetime are people I’ll never see again. Some have already gone on to their reward in heaven. Others… heaven only knows where they are now.
Have you ever sat down and tried to count the number of people who have crossed your path during your lifetime? The older you get, the larger the number.
Start counting by including all the family members and neighbors you encountered as a small child. Then consider all the teachers and students you met in elementary school. If your family attended church, add in the children and teachers in your Sunday school class, the ministers, custodians, and everyone else you dealt with while worshipping.
If you’re like me, your elementary school fed into a much larger middle school or junior high school where you met even more students, teachers, janitors, cafeteria workers, administrators, counselors, and secretarial staff people. During these formative years, you may have also met many shopkeepers and the family members and neighbors of your classmates. See how fast the list grows!
If you went into the military or college, your circle of friends continued to grow. If you went to work, you were introduced to supervisors and fellow employees. You may have joined a bowling league or softball team, or joined a political party. In each case, your circle of friends expanded and if you went to a party at a friend’s home, you were introduced to other friends of your friends.
By the time I finished high school, I had lost count of my family members and friends. It wasn’t until my fortieth year that I began to take inventory. At that time I started writing a list. Every time I thought my list might be nearly complete, I’d recall another group from my past. It wasn’t long before that list grew into the thousands.
Ever since, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep in touch with those with whom I’m still in contact, while looking up other old acquaintances whenever I get the chance. That’s how I managed to reconnect with Bill Golla on my recent trip to Pittsburgh.
Tracking down old friends is seldom easy. There are some tools available – I own alumni directories from my high school and college – but beyond that, it’s often a shot in the dark. Phone books might help as do various web sites, but you quickly learn that many people have the same or similar names.
Two sources that I monitor from time to time are magazines aimed at the older members of our population. One is Reminisce (with a sister publication called Reminisce Extra) and another is Good Old Days. Reminisce has a section asking if anyone can help; people use this to see if old items can be identified, or old friends found. Good Old Days includes a section entitled ‘Wanted’ that serves a similar purpose.
In the most recent issue of Reminisce, a gentleman was looking for any military personnel who sailed from Casablanca to New York aboard the liberty ship Andrew Hamilton. In his request, he mentioned that the ship sailed backward for seventy-five miles. That piqued my interest and I went surfing on the web. I found a web site for veterans looking for information about old friends. Lo and behold, there was a gentleman, Roy Turner, looking for Clyde Kennedy – the person who submitted the request to Reminisce Magazine! I was more than happy to reply to Roy’s request with the information I had regarding Clyde. Amazing coincidence? Perhaps. In any case, I was thrilled to be able to help.
The ‘Wanted” section of Good Old Days can also be found on-line. If you have time, visit the site and see if you can answer any of the requests. If nothing else, you’ll find the requests to be an interesting hodgepodge.
By the way, the picture at the top of this post is of me and a guy I’ve known since the second grade. His name is Anthony “Tony” Civello. From a business world standpoint, he is probably the most successful of our high school classmates. However, none of it has gone to his head. When we get together, he’s the same guy I hung out with during my youth.
Now, if I could only find Dave Brest…