Yankee Doodle Dandy
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2007
"Lifetime Friends - Weddings"
click here to download
flash version here
25 January 2007
I was just about to head upstairs to the shower to get ready to go to San Rafael when the phone rang. It was the nurse at the nursing home, calling to tell me that my mother had been vomiting and had diarrhea all night.
When I was there 2 days ago, my mother said she had not been able to go down to the physical therapy room, because it is on the first floor and the first floor was on quarantine because so many people had developed an intestinal flu.
It was inevitable that it would infiltrate the second floor, where my mother is. We decided that it was probably not a good idea for me to drive down there today (I don't even know if I could get in, as the may have quarantined that floor too).
I don't know how this is going to affect her homecoming on Friday, if at all. But the plan now is that I'm going to call her in the morning and we'll decide in the morning whether or not I'm going to go there tomorrow or not.
So with a day off, I was free to work on a project (of course I could have cleaned something or organized something or scrubbed something, but...nyaaaa).
I have, from time to time, talked about our group of college friends, but I don't think I've attempted to explain the mystique in depth. I found the videotape that I put together in 1987 which does it very well, but it's too long for an internet video, so I'm posting 3 excerpts from it, the first of which posts today.
Newman Hall in Berkeley, in the 1960s was a beautiful old wooden building (which is now an ugly concrete parking garage). When I moved to UC Berkeley in mid-semester to start what would be my short-lived college career, I was a fish out of water. I went from a small, insular world to a place where I had classes with more people than my entire high school. I lived in a dorm which, though the smallest dorm on campus, seemed so far removed from the family I'd left behind. And it was run by this "mean" grad resident, who, I knew, didn't like me at all.
Newman Hall became my salvation. It was the Catholic community on campus, the "familiar" in a world of "strange." Its wood paneled rooms were comfortable and invited people to mingle. The Tuesday suppers were a great place to have a home cooked meal cooked by Mrs. Balakshin and socialize. The gorgeous chapel was a place to pray that even though you hadn't cracked a book, you would somehow pass the upcoming exam.
I became part of the group. We partied (no, not that kind of partying. I was a good girl, I was!). We traveled together. We all dated each other and over time, we began to pair off. The mean grad student wasn't so mean after all, it turned out and when the time came for marriages to begin, she and Mike were the first, because Char had graduated before the rest of us (or those of us who graduated, that is). Pat and Rich followed. Then Concetta and Eric, Jeri and Bill, and Walt and me. These couples are what we have come to call the "first generation" families. There were others in the group, some who stayed, but the five couples that all married within four years of each other formed this core group that all married in the beautiful Newman chapel. Most of us wore Charlotte's veil, which, given how things have turned out, quickly became known as "the fertility veil."
Char and Mike had the first child, and when they had their second child, she was born about the same time as the first child for others in the group. The year that Jeri was born was our banner year. All five families had babies that year, the only year we doubled the number of "second generation" kids (the kids that all turned 40 this year).
We had all bought homes by this time. Three of us lived within a few blocks of each other in Oakland and the other two families lived not that far away, one up in the Berkeley hills and one south of Oakland, all a 20 minute or less drive from the rest of us, so all of our kids grew up in this one huge extended family that ultimately numbered 22 kids. We weren't exactly a commune because we didn't share one big home, but we were the next best thing. We babysat for each other, nursed each other's children, and vacationed together. Many of our kids attended the same nursery and grammar schools, and during that time we added Richard and Michele and son Eric to the mix, bringing the number of "1st generation" kids up to 23.
We started having New Years Day parties when the kids were little because we all wanted to include the little ones and obviously we weren't going to keep them up until midnight, and so the New Years Day party became a tradition for many years, always with a group photo of the kids (and later, the adults), and the inclusion of a pinata which, to this day, remains part of any gathering which includes lots of the 2nd generation kids and their children.
We still, more than 40 years later, are close friends, all of us. Our kids don't see each other frequently, but when they do, it's like they just saw each other yesterday. They have a shared history that goes back to the womb, and a friendship which is closer than some siblings. When we buried Jeri's husband Bill last year, there was a large turnout of 2nd generation kids for the memorial service, many of whom (like our Jeri, Bill's wife's goddaughter and namesake) had traveled long distances to be there.
In 1987 I put together a video history of the group. The video covers the time from before we were married through our weddings, and every New Year's party from 1965 until 1987. I thought I had lost it, but I found it last night and sat up until 1 a.m. watching it. I decided to edit it for internet posting and so part 1 is the Video of the Day today. This is a montage of all of our weddings. Photo quality isn't the best; in some places it's downright crappy. But it sets things up for part 2, which I will post tomorrow (and have been working on all day), which will be excerpts from all of the parties, hoping to cut out most of the really bad parts and include only parts which are remotely interesting to someone who doesn't know any of these people.
I consider myself so fortunate to have this wonderful circle of friends. I miss the days when we all lived close enough that we could pop over for a cup of coffee. Now Jeri lives more than an hour away and is on the road — God knows where — in her RV most of the time; Char & Mike live in the Bay Area, as does Concetta (who suffers from MS and is dependent on helpers, as she has no movement below her neck); Rich and Pat are in Sacramento; Richard and Michele live in the Sierra foothills. It's not quite like walking 2 blocks to someone's house. And we're all (much) older, have other things that we are involved with. Times change.
But the love I have for this group remains constant. And the pleasure I get from watching our children interact is another constant. It just saddens me to realize that the kids in the 3rd generation don't have a clue who most of us are or why we care about each other so much. They have missed a lot as a result.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Photo from Bill's Memorial
This is entry #2491