Thursday, May 18, 2017

High School

FROG HOSPITAL -- May 18, 2017 -- By Fred Owens
with news from Chicago, Boston and South Texas
High School, Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Illinois, 1964

That horrible feeling when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize you will NEVER get over high school.
So don't try. ....don't try to get over high school, don't try to get over anything ....some memories fade, some memories don't ..... What surprised me about the high school dream I had the other night was the details I remembered, the faces and the names of classmates..... Where is all that data stored?

It was not the usual nightmare. It was a pleasant and friendly dream. We were the smartest kids in the school, in double A, some twenty of us and now I'm realizing that some of these fellows were just a bit more mature and sensible than me...... It wasn't them, it was the jocks who got voted to class office. They were the real jerks..... But Mike Plunkett, Jack Liess and Phil Rettig, the guys who put out the school newspaper and yearbook.... They had no animus toward me .... They could have been friends if I had only stopped sulking and lashing out.
Why forget? Why remember anything? Why assume you have control over what you remember and what you forget.
Meryl Streep said it well in this commencement address. "Real Life is actually a lot like high school." So you don't get over it, because you're living it now.
After the dream I contacted Mike Plunkett. He was glad to hear from me.

Marty Federman Passes....His Obituary Here
I sent him my Frog Hospital newsletter every week for the past 18 years. He rarely read it and he told me so, but I said Marty it just makes me feel better to keep your name on my email list. So I have kept this connection to him all this time because it was good to have him in my life even in this small way.
Marty Federman was the director of Hillel at Northeastern University in Boston when I first met him in 1992. In later years he took several positions of leadership in Jewish spirituality and politics. He had a warm and loving home in Brookline, right outside of Boston.
The Woman Who Burned Her Own House Down
People seem to find new ways to screw up their lives. A few years ago, on a day much like any other, Charlotte Anderson, age 39, was mad at her husband. The Andersons lived on a few acres under some post oak trees in a quiet neighborhood near La Vernia. He left for work about 8 a.m.
At about 9 a.m., Charlotte took a five-gallon can of gasoline, poured it all over their 1,800 square foot house, lit it on fire, and then stepped outside and called the sheriff on her cell phone to report what she had done. Meanwhile, the neighbors saw the smoke and called the La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department. I heard all this on the police scanner at work. Three fire departments came, but it was too late – the house was completely consumed.
The deputy came out and arrested Charlotte. She was charged with Arson. Her bail was set at $10,000. Investigator Rich Nichols interviewed her and I talked to him afterwards. He said that there had been marital difficulties, then he told me some more stuff off the record.
I never heard of anybody setting their own house on fire, have you? I got curious. Maybe her husband had done something to make her mad? I drove out that way, about 15 miles from Floresville, and pulled up slowly to the house, which was marked off with police tape. I just took a slow look around at the ashes. Then I noticed a man across the street shoveling gravel for his driveway, and I went over to say hello.
I asked him if he knew the Andersons. He seemed kind of nervous and wary, so I tried to put him at ease, but still I was a stranger asking questions – I had given him my card and said I was a reporter for the local paper, but I noticed he only told me his first name. Anyway, he said he had only moved to La Vernia two weeks ago from Des Moines, Iowa – and he looked like he wished he could just go back to Iowa and live around some normal people.
I decided to drop my investigation. It seemed more like a matter of private misery than public concern.
A True Story. "The Woman Who Burned Her Own House Down" is a true story. This happened in La Vernia, a small town in South Texas. At that time I was a reporter for the Wilson County News which covered that territory. I like this story because it is both funny and sad. And odd, and personal.
We laughed about it at the office, but then we stopped laughing. What a disaster for these people. Obviously the woman had mental health issues. And the poor husband. Did he deserve to lose his home? Maybe he did. We didn't know. We did know that the insurance would not cover a case of self-inflicted arson. So they were left with nothing but ashes.
We do know that after several days had passed, Charlotte Anderson was still in jail. Her husband apparently did not care to bail her out. Nor her family, nor her friends, if she had any.
But still, we worked at a newspaper that did not care to broadcast the pain and suffering of local people. She burned her house down, she went to jail, and on top of that she got her name in the paper for doing just that.
It was a public humiliation and an embarrassment to her family -- having her name in the newspaper, in print, in black and white, for all the world to see. The staff at the Wilson County News was always mindful of that. We only printed what was necessary and factual, and not to amuse the readers, but only to inform them.

Yes, it is a true story and Charlotte Johnson is her real name and it is a crime to set a building on fire even if it's your own home and you're mad at your husband.
And it's a little funny too. Maybe the husband deserved it. Don't mess with Charlotte.
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You can find the PayPal button on the blog. Go to Frog Hospital.Or make out a check to Fred Owens and mail it to:
Fred Owens 1105 Veronica Springs RD Santa Barbara, CA 93105
thank you very

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