I wish I had more of my childhood photos scanned. Some have been transferred over from faded photos to digital scans. But only a few of the ones I want today. I've been looking for photos of Jeri Aldrich and me from days long past.
When I was in sixth grade, my parents moved across town and we tried yet another church in our quest for a spiritual home. This time we landed at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing, Michigan. It was known for its beautiful Gothic-style architecture across from Lansing's capitol building and for its outstanding choir school.
You need to know something about Plymouth's choir school and its director, Richard Klausli, and his wife, Dorothy, who handled the children's choirs. First, it was good -- with more than 200 voices for the combined choir performances at Christmas and Easter.
And Dr. Klausli was somewhat ahead of his time. A professor at the university, he ran the choirs in the English choir school tradition. And he wasn't afraid to take chances on new music. In 1970 the choir did the oratorio "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice -- in partial costume. He told the choir that the duo had written another piece that was on the edge. He didn't know how it would fare, but it was called "Jesus Christ Superstar."
The choir school for my age group met on Thursdays after school. Mrs. Klausli (who could tame wild tigers with a steely stare -- just think what she could do with eight year-old boys or thirteen year-old girls!) ran the sessions with a heart of gold and an iron fist. Bonds were formed during choir school. And that's when I met Jeri.
For me, it was the closest bond of that era. I was a new kid in my sixth grade class, and yes, I had friends. But Jeri was different. You know how you sometimes just hit it off with someone? Well, we did. And when we found out we were going to the same junior high school, all the better!
We were in the school play. Went to the ninth grade dance together (because we didn't have boyfriends...truth be told.)
We played at each other's houses -- at the Aldrich house there was always a menagerie of animals, all of whom would sit for their suppers.
Jeri often came to the lake with me, and is the only person not family (including Rick) who calls me first by my family nickname. I wish I could find the photo of us with my cousins and their friends, happily posing on the dock after riding in the speed boat to the little burger place with pinball machines on the other side of the lake. Or one from the church retreat. But these bathing beauties will have to do.
We were sophomores in high school here. It was after this time we sort of lost touch, going to different schools.
She knew my parents (one of the few people remaining in my circle who did) and when my mom was dying, her mother was there every step of the way.
Now, I'm not a huge Facebooker. Part of my job includes monitoring and posting on various social media sites for the station, so I had to have an account. And of course, people find you. Eventually, you start finding people.
I found Jeri. Yes, we'd seen each other once several years ago in a crowded lobby of the symphony when she was visiting her parents; I knew she lived in Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan (but not where); that she had married, had children, later divorced. But we really hadn't been in sit-down-and-talk contact since that summer pictured above.
Well, over Labor Day weekend, I visited Jeri. We'd tried earlier -- it didn't fly because of her work schedule. But this time, it did.
And it was as though time had never passed.
I've had the experience meeting blog friends that it feels as though you already know each other, have forever.
But sometimes in meeting up again with someone from the past, there's that pause. What do I say? How much? Have they changed? Have I? Have we changed "together" even though we've been apart? How do you begin?
I'm pleased to report there was no "strangeness." No "stranger-ness," either. Just two good friends who both love to knit...
...who belong to book clubs and love their animals. (And really, who couldn't love a face like Dexter's?)
Friends who love to cook and shared soup and pasta salad that each had made.
And it was a perfectly wonderful.
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