Fifty Year Reunion

Fifty Year Reunion
Steven Hunley

If you’re traveling in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to the one who lives there
She was once a true love of mine
If you’re goin’ when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see for me she has a coat so warm
To keep her from the howling winds
See for me that her hair’s hanging long
That it rolls and flows all down her breasts
Please see for me that her hair’s hanging long
‘Cause that’s the way I remember her best
I’m a-wondering if she remembers me at all
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day
So if you’re traveling in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to the one who lives there
‘Cause she was once, a true love of mine. –Bob Dylan

You’ve heard of the reality show Survivor. It isn’t so real. But this is, and it’s the real deal about survivors, not about survivors of television ratings, but about survivors of tragedies and love and life itself, and a road-trip to boot. It takes us from sunny southern California to the Midwest, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and then Ironwood Michigan for a class reunion and then Hurley where Dillinger hid out, secreted away in the North Woods.

In San Diego I get a copy of a magazine about Frank Sinatra and promptly lose in mid-flight to Phoenix when I tuck in the back of the seat in front of me to pull down the tray to balance my Coke and chips on. I regret it immensely to this day, it had pictures of the Rat Pack and Frank and just looking at the cover made me want to watch reruns of From Here to Eternity. I made my daughter Nichole watch it once the same as I did Street Car named Desire. That’s what dads who are ex-film students do, force their children to watch old movies. God bless us all for that.

We take off, swing out over the Pacific, hang a U-turn, and head east for Phoenix.

Phoenix airport was a drag race and a blur. In order to make our connection on time we were counseled to order a cart. A guy pulled up to where we got off and we hopped on and then hung on for dear life. While all the normal folk were heading one way, walking at a hurried pace and rushing by on long moving sidewalks, we were rocketing in the other direction, against their stream of humanity, like salmon swimming madly upstream on a mission to procreate our own species. He tooted and blasted a horn and shouted out “cart moving!” and they had better give way and stand clear if they valued their lives. And I thought the 747 was fast. Southwestern had nothing on this guy who ought to be a jet pilot, because he earned his wings flying us through the airport.

We land in Minneapolis and hang out at the Sheraton and it’s so tall it gives me a nose bleed just looking out the window. I can’t see much because it’s two o’clock in the morning, but when I wake up I can see the Double Tree from our window and plenty of trees and I conclude that wherever the hell I am it isn’t California because there isn’t a palm tree in sight. The restaurant downstairs is a French themed restaurant named Colette. I wonder if anyone here knows it’s a French writer, the first woman to earn the Legion of Honor. I doubt it.

We meet the Manns. Stephen and Penny and Pam took us to dinner and we met Alicia, Stephen’s fashionable wife, a holistic horse-healer who had once been a people nurse. Alicia was quiet but bold, bold enough to eat anchovies on her salad. Stephen was one of the few people I’ve ever met who understood the nature of street photography. And why not? He has cinema down pat, it’s his business to know all about film. Showed us his offices, and the original Deuce Coupe used in American Graffiti. But what impressed me most was how he talked tenderly to Barbara on the way back to the hotel. Before I met him I expected him to be a ruthless business man, a scion of theaters and all, but I was dead wrong. He’s sharp as a tack, never abrasive, soft spoken and amiable. One of those guys you feel comfortable with right off the bat.

Pam owns a spa, displays business savvy, and has tons of rings on her fingers and Penny is funny as all get out and although I’d met her before right after Edythe’s funeral, she looks much younger today, like a California surfer girl, which I mention, and she most likely doesn’t believe, but I know was perfectly true. It was good to see both of them again, as when I first met them, under dread circumstances, and with them both living so far away, thought I’d never see them again.

That night I read Memories and Manuscripts to Barbara, where the last line is, “All was good in Trieste.”

The next day we meet the other side of the family, the Marks- Honey Bee and Arnie and Cookie, their daughter, and Rollie and Margie. Honey Bee made fabulous Butterscotch cookies. Arnie is an oldster, even older than me, and served in WW2 and Korea but didn’t fight, but rather played clarinet in an army band.

“You were in the army of occupation in Europe. Where at? Berlin?”


It was just another instance of synchronicity. Jung would have laughed. Carl, go right ahead.

I figured Arnie was just a few years older, but no, he was several years older. When it came down to it, he was an inspiration. He was fit and active and involved in several service organizations. In April he was named to the Lion’s club hall of fame and for over twenty-five years hosted youth exchanges.

As we were leaving I had to tell him.

“You know, Arnie, I just have to tell you. I have days when I feel like I’m getting old. There are moments I dread it. And when I saw you I guessed you were a bit older but had no idea you were eighty-four. When I see how fit you are, how active, and how you’ve dedicated yourself to doing good for mankind, I’m changing my mind.”

He just smiled and shook my hand. Nothing else needed to be said.

Margie gave us a ride back to the hotel.

The Sheraton Bloomingdale is really posh but a mystery. The view is terrific. The room is comfortable, the most comfortable room I’ve ever been in as a matter of fact, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s the luxurious room or Barbara’s company that makes it that way. Maybe it’s really no mystery at all.

Barbara and I complement each other, fit together like pieces of a wonderful complicated puzzle that when religiously mated, form a celestial picture. And it’s one of those pictures you want to stare at forever. It’s unique, it’s for real, and I’ll do anything to maintain it. To paraphrase Eric Clapton, I will do anything, anything you can dream of. I’ll do anything, anything…for her love.

Then we rented a car across the street at the Doubletree and headed north east for Ironwood. At this point I was wound tight as a coil spring. The reason is because I’m a man and men are hunter gatherers and I’m not sure of my directions. I’m a stranger in a strange land! Let’s see, it’s on accounta I have at least five sets of directions. I have Mapquest, which tells me one way and Pam’s directions which tell me another and Arnie’s actual road map marked with a high-lighter and two or three variations of Mapquest I obtained because I looked it up a number of times.

Oh my goodness, what to do, what to do? Me, lost in the North Woods, surrounded by trees and all, and Sargent Preston and Yukon King nowhere in sight. Finally I give up and use Arnie’s map because I’m an oldster and don’t trust technology when a paper road map will do the trick. That’s me, the oldster who is suspicious of technology.

GPS, take a hike, I’m not pushing buttons this time. Technology, I got news for you too…get over it. On this trip you’re taking a back seat.

©Steven Hunley2014

To be continued… I’ll do anything for your Love-Eric Clapton Girl from the North Country Fair-Bob Dylan

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