The members of '47 hardly knew one another when we came back after the war. We'd had the summer of '43 together (even a freshman-sophomore rope-pull across a stream), but each month more of us were being called up along the way into fall and early winter, and by then even the youngest of us had turned 18 and were sent off to places we'd never heard of. When we came back we were called "veterans," not college boys.
About all I remember before being called up is rooming in the AD house and being forced to think in Reuben Brower's section of English 1. After the war the highlights seem to have been the struggle with intimations of inadequacy in Baird's honors English courses and singing in the Glee Club under Mishkin and in the D.Q. Between the leaving and the returning, enlistment in the Navy V-5 program led not to an airplane, but to a V-12 unit in Minnesota and finally Iowa pre-flight and then primary at the Naval Air Station in Norman (OK), where bright yellow biplanes gave us cadets an exquisite array of opportunities for ground-looping.
After Amherst it was marriage, graduate work at Boston University, teaching at 23 (Jesus!) at the Berkshire school, subsequent postings to the Cranbrook School near Detroit and the Milwaukee Country Day School; three kids-two of them Bowdoin graduates; retirement, a divorce and second marriage; a decade or so of fulls and winters in France and gradual absorption of the language (we won't go into my relationship with the subjunctive); a lot of time on our 36-foot trawler in the Intracoastal, out to the Bahamas, up to Nova Scotia, aground in the Carolinas, up to Lake Superior, down to Mobile. Then in 1991 the final retrogression into second childhood-late second adolescence, really-through the sale of our boat and the purchase of a Stearman (one of those bright yellow biplanes, except mine is blue), at age 65. Does this man have no sense? Well, I wanted to see if I could get a handle on that ground-looping business.
Now as long as I can pass the medical every two years I'll keep at this, although any more than four hours in this bird makes you feel as if you've been in a Cuisinart, and any journey of more than 150 miles takes only about twice as long as going by car. But it does put roses in the cheeks.
This morning's mail brought news from the gas company that I have been admitted to membership in their Golden Age Club. (Did I somehow miss their Siver Age Club?) How this relates to gas consumption I don't know and I don't plan to find out.
I'll stick with the advice of Satchel' Paige, the great black baseball player:
- Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.
- Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move?
- Avoid running at all times