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We lit out for the West, Bill and I, the summer after Junior year.
He took to the idea of working on the wheat ranch where I had been, the summer before.
We got a ride from my brother as far as Scotts Bluff and then put out our thumbs.
Short rides, but in a few days we were in Walla Walla, with more than a week to use up before the harvest began.
We signed on at the Libby cannery, a place filled with the steam of scalded tomatoes.
Nellie Biggs’s rooming house cost us $7 a week.
You got everything you paid for at the rooming house.
A gas stove to cook on and sheets that were likely washed since the last drifter left the room.
Mrs. Nellie showed us preference—because most other of her tenants vanished before paying their rent.
Bill packed light and didn’t waste words.
The week in one place made him restless.
His head filled with the idea of riding a freight on out to somewhere.
I went down to the make-up yards on an evening with him to study the trains.
They put the empties ten cars back and the freight goes out at ten p.m.
Next night he climbed into an empty and went out.
His postcard said the ride was hard and filthy.
Most of the way down to San Francisco he had had to hang on to the rungs of an outside ladder.
There wasn’t room on the postcard to say more.
-- Bob Allen
Bill Rose was a classmate of mine at Lower Merion HS until his senior year (?) when he transferred to The Haverford School near the Merion Cricket Club. Bill was a very good student and a football lineman for Haverford.
Unlike most of our class, Bill arrived at Amherst in late August for freshman football practice. Unfortunately for Bill, his football career didn't last very long after he suffered a collapsed lung at a practice session. For a lineman, he was relatively small, probably under 6' and 175 lb. But, it should be noted that Bill had very good writing skills at Amherst and eventually became a fee reporter, I believe, for a Florida (Tampa?) paper. Beginning with our junior year, Bill and I shared driving costs in my 1949 Chevy coupe for the 8 hour ride to Philadelphia. At that time the NJ Turnpike was not quite open in the NY area.
For a career, Bill chose the US Postal Service in order to have vacation time (or leaves of absences) to help others in Asia and possible Africa.
In 2001, Bill and his wife attended the 50th reunion of our Class of 1951 and was the "surprise" alumnus for the weekend. He, his wife and another high school FL classmate made the two day trip. This was his first high school reunion for both since graduation.
Bill Rose was a quiet, intellectual friend who had a life agenda of helping others especially in SE Asia and Florida. It was a privilege to be an old friend of his.
I remember Bill Rose quite fondly and am sad to learn of his death. I used to run into him from time to time on the campus at Penn when I was a student at Penn Med School. (I don't remember exactly why he was on the campus. Both his mother and father were professors in the med school). He would often take me to his parent's home on Owen Road in Wynnewood for dinner.
I remember vividly the discussions that he would have with his father, Dr. Ed Rose, the professor of endocrinology, who incidentally was blind at the time. Bill would bring up proposed courses of action that at the time seemed very eccentric, far out or dangerous to me and would have generated much sound and fury at my house. He and Dr. Ed would be able to discuss these proposals quite calmly and objectively, weighing the risks vs. benefits of the proposed actions, a type of risk analysis. I was quite impressed with this tolerant and kindly attitude.
I remember seeing Bill sometime later when he had started into the Social Work program at Bryn Mawr, and I believe that he eventually went to Viet Nam to do social work.
As John Donne said something to the effect that no man is an island unto himself. We are all part of the continent. Every man's death diminishes me (and especially a friend's death) So never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
Don Marcus’ detailed memory of Bill Rose sparked a specific memory of mine I'd like to share with the Class of 1955. My Dad was a graduate of Penn. Medical School, and he studied under and/or knew both of Bill's parents while at the Med. School , and during his further training. He connected with Bill during our Freshman year, and he used to talk with him while visiting with me at College. He kept up with Bill during our years, and I believe he reconnected with Bill's parents during those years too. Small world!
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