Part 2: Columbus and the Reunion

This is the second installment of my odyssey surrounding the Columbus West High School Class of January 1956 Reunion.

Since I made the long trip to Ohio for a weekend, I extended the trip on each end for some adventures in Cincinnati, and passed through Carol’s homestead in Lancaster in each direction, as well. This epistle is divided into three parts; The Heartland, Columbus and the Reunion, and finally Lancaster Redux and Cincinnati.

If you want to know more about the food, I”m concurrently posting a food centric edition on my eats site.


Friday, August 18, 2006 (continued)
Just as I got in the car, it started to rain, not hard, but rain. I drove out of it within a mile. I kept taking “downtown” cues on what ever US-33 turned into and got off where it said Broad Street. This is now familiar territory, the streets I roamed before the freeways were built. I passed the State Capitol and thought I should have a digital picture of that. After circling a few blocks I parked on 3rd Street and pumped the meter with all the change I had for 22 minutes. Enough. In the course of walking around the capitol block, I took an oblique and a straight on picture, found a little but nice farmers market tucked into an alley off Broad Street, followed this young woman with a great ass, soaked in the scene and got back with 3 minutes to spare.


Short North is a district that seems invented. Dream up a cool name and a logo… put some metal arches with lights across High Street every quarter block or so… restore a couple of buildings converted to condos or apartments… encourage the commercial landlords to lease to “proper tenants” and watch it go. I drove the length of Short North, and then explored the area between High Street and Sutter to the east. Brick houses not unlike the one I grew up in were being restored… it’s a patchwork operation, but it will happen. My reason for being in Short North is to have lunch at White Castle. “Four Sliders and a small coffee.”


“That”ll be $2.79.” The first bite was heaven, hot, moist, onion, pickle, and beefy goodness. I had been buying the frozen White Castles in San Francisco, and microwaving them for lunch from time to time. That’s like caressing a faded photograph instead of the voluptious woman. There is a hint of the real thing, but it’s not the real thing. But if you haven”t experienced the real thing for say, ten years, then you pretend. These White Castles were real and really good. Worth the trip. Which is not to say that if I lived in Columbus I would eat White Castles regularly, or even often.

North on High Street and left on Lane Avenue through the Ohio State Campus and Upper Arlington brought me to River Road which is US-33 which goes to Dublin and the Clarion Hotel. I had forgotten the lush feeling of the Scioto River and the River Road.

The Clarion Hotel sits in an office park; Dublin has many office parks as it straddles I-270. What ever became of the concept of bumping into a colleague or collaborator on the street? Not here, that would be called a fender bender.

The Clarion Hotel signboard said WHS Reunion 3PM when I checked in. The invitation says 6 PM. Hmmm. After a shower and unpacking and putting away, I felt good and it was only 2 o”clock… I wrote for a while and called Carol to wish her Happy Birthday. Bad planning, being away for her birthday. I”d like to get a drink, but the bar was closed. Maybe you go early and socialize and then the pizza is at 6… I”ll go at 4:30, not too early.

I went. Judy Dyer Williams was inside the door… looks like they”re setting up. She looked at me like, why are you here? I said, “You”re Judy, I”m Marcus.” She lit up and gave me a hug. “I”m glad you”re fat… we all are.” Maureen Krems was there, as well. She married Gary Nebinger. They were just setting up. “I just came for a drink,” I said. “There’s no drinks here, not tonight. There will be tomorrow night.”

“You”re kidding,” I said. “I came all the way from San Francisco, and I drink. I guess I”ll have to go to the hotel bar.”


They had all kinds of memorabilia set up… composite picture of the class, varsity letters, reunion pictures, pictures of the deceased… all mounted and displayed. Cool. We shot the breeze back and forth and they went home to change and I went to the bar. Vodka tonic. The bartender made it just right, not much tonic. I took a short nap and then donned my brown Merimekko shirt and khakis for the pizza party. I took a kitchen timer with me to time naps and since it has hours as well as minutes, even to use as an alarm clock.

The dry pizza party was good in spite of its dryness. Fred Lancia was there, as were Jerry Rumley, Dick Furry, Shelva Harlow, Shelby Adams, Judy Matson, Woody Waltman, Deanna Ward, and others whose names I don”t recall. It’s interesting. The people you talked to then, you talk to now. Those you didn”t hang with then, you don”t talk with now. Some I hung with then have passed; Bill Spratley, John Kuntz, Joan Ream among them. Good high school friends.

It was a casual affair… several boxes of pizza, a simple salad; soda and water on ice in the bathtub. Pizza was good. People stood and talked for a while and then sat around round tables. Most know each other from around Columbus, and it turns out a bunch of the girls get together for lunch once a month. So everybody pretty much knew one another except us out-of-towners like Jerry Rumley and Dick Furry (well Cleveland ain”t so far) and me. So naturally there wasn”t a protocol for standing up and telling folks about yourself. Nearly everybody knew everybody already.


Marilyn, Jim, Woody, Jerry, Pam

I was talking to Jerry and his wife and said, “I brought a slide show of my life… want to see it?” How could he say no? I pulled it out and a few other people gathered ‘round and off I went. A little later I did it again. Some really liked it and said so, some just watched and walked away. I was put by some into celebrity status—along with Dick Furry who was on the last Ohio State Championship basketball team in 1960—because I came from San Francisco, did some notable projects, and I guess, hadn”t been to a reunion since the 10th. Okay with me, I relish status. Most were teachers, long retired, Gary Nebinger was a Wal-Mart Exec, Jerry ran warehouses and distribution and Dick Furry was in accounting after basketball (I don”t think he played in the pros). For the record, there were 28 attending the pizza party, there will be 50 tomorrow for dinner, including spouses.

Saturday, August 19, 2006
The air was wet but not hot as I walked in the office park at 8 a.m. I was very conscious of where I was and how to get back… roads and parking lots and roads and parking lots and ponds and greenery meld into sameness surrounding the very designed and unique but unknown office buildings scattered about.

I called Kelli and they”ll pick me up at 10:30. That left me plenty of time for the hotel breakfast buffet, which was good and inexpensive. Two kinds of melon, sliced (canned) peaches, many kinds of breads, stewed apples, scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice, and coffee for $5.50. You can get an omelet cooked to order for $2.50 extra. They also had pancakes and waffles, but that’s not for me. That was a good way to start the day.


Tom and Kelli picked me up and I showed them my slide show in the hotel so I didn”t have to drag my laptop around. We picked up Traci in Hilliard (geez, Hilliard was a grimy spot on the map in the middle of fields back in the day… now it’s professional suburbia personified) and proceeded to German Village, passing by the site of the old penitentiary and through the Arena District around the Columbus Clippers hockey arena. Tom made a quick drive about the village and parked on Third Street and we walked. It was only a little humid and a little hot, but we were really glad to walk into the cool Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus. Just inside the door is a big deli case filled with Schmidt’s sausages. Kinda gets you in the mood. We were seated by a window and offered menus and invited to take a look at the buffet. We all ordered the buffet and medium (22 ounce) beers of various types, mine a light Belgium. I laid a bed of white cabbage, red cabbage and German scalloped potatoes and topped that with a chunk of each kind of the five Schmidt’s sausages. White cabbage tart, red cabbage sweet, potatoes creamy, sausages many flavors of good. What a lunch. I felt so good I bought.


Walking off the meal was good, too. Recalling the days when German Village was my senior class thesis at Ohio State, I took them on a walk meandering through the Village on the narrow, treed, rough brick and cobblestone streets. The houses are good solid stock and any new ones are of a quality to match. As we were coming back to the car, Tom said it was nice to walk; they had never really walked around the Village before, always came to a destination and left.


I had time before my Reunion Part 2 to write a little, watch a little PGA and take a little nap.

Putting on a suit and special shoes (Campers) for an event felt good. I felt good walking down the hotel corridor to meet my fate. I was concerned about getting stuck between a couple of nerds at dinner. When I walked in the door, many folks were seated and my wariness increased. But once I was in the room and had installed my name tag, Jerry Rumley grabbed me and said ‘sit here.” Good. I got a Scotch on the rocks (the bartender sure pours short) at the bar (at least there’s a bar). Then I spotted Jim and Marilyn Heil and motioned them to come sit beside me. Set.

We were herded into another room for the class picture… I”m back row to the left, just left of the last woman (Judy Matson). As we assembled and got into rows and posed, everybody was in a good mood and joking and laughing… no matter how the photo turns out.


Forty Eight attended the dinner as opposed to 28 on pizza night. Most notably, for me, Carole Boldt, Bill Chappelear. Then there was the classmate who pretty much snubbed me. Not a loss. My mind said “yeah, so you”ve got reddish blonde poof hair and an ass as big as Ohio for God’s sake. Feh!” Reunions are about that sort of thing, too. Dinner was from a buffet. Salad greens with blue cheese dressing, green beans, potatoes, chicken, roast beef were the offerings that interested me. There were lots of great looking desserts, but by the time I went back for some, only chocolate cake remained.

The reunion was good. All in all I had a great time and I’m glad I made the trip.


Super Organizers


Sunday, August 20, 2006
The reunion was over… the pressure was off, except I promised to be back at the Hale Homestead by noon. I could sleep in, but I didn”t… awake is awake for me. I walked, did the Breakfast Buffet and cleaned up a second installment of writing to post on rectorsite. The hotel lobby has WiFi, but the rooms don”t, so I got everything ready in the room and went out to the lobby to post.

By 10:30 I was on the road, as planned. I can catch US-33 just near the end of the office park road and ride it all the way to Lancaster. MapQuest would have me go on Interstates around the city, but hell, I like the city, and it’s Sunday morning. The river road took me in through the center of town and then out through the southeast on city streets. The southeast used to be pretty dicy, but this morning it looked pretty clean and nice. Soon I”m on the familiar highway to Lancaster and arrive pretty much spot on at noon.

Next installment: Lancaster Redux and Cincinnati


One thought on “WHS50 II

  1. Nice reunion recap…especially since I will be headed to mine in a few weeks. I talked Kelly into going with me (hey, to show her off more than anything). I found your group picture interesting…everybody looks so OLD (‘cept you!). And I bet NONE of them know who Tom Waits is. I feel the pressure to make certain to take my camera and get some fotos for MY blog about WHS. It won’t be as elegant as yours: Ours is at a chain BBQ restaurant. Nice. I feel confident that I will be the coolest guy there (or at least within the top 5).


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