ANDY THOMAS: On the Road Again (Apologies to Willie)
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"On the road again, Just can't wait to get on the road again, The life I love is makin' music with my friends. ..."
I am definitely not a Willy Nelson fan, but his lyrics about going off to make music with his friends have an important meaning to me.
Over the past year, we have traveled a number of different places to make music with our friends and see things we may never see again.
People often remark about how much I travel. My reply is that, while I am still able and healthy enough, I'll continue to travel. The end result, seeing a new place, or visiting with friends, old and new, is rewarding and fun. When and if I have to get about with wheelchair assistance, I'll stay home.
I've been around the world and to many places, but I still enjoy seeing new things and cultures. I am, however, saturated with museums and cathedrals. I enjoy watching the people.
Our trip last weekend was a drive to Pennsylvania to visit my wife's best friend, who is dying of cancer. Six weeks ago, she was healthy and looking forward to tending the high school library at a small Maine community, as she had done the past 12 years. We are godparents to two of her five children and feel very much a part of the family. Seeing her as an invalid was not pleasant. We've known her for 32 years.
What is likely to be our last time with her was a sad experience. While near our own children and grandchildren, in New Jersey, we sought refuge with them for a brief family reunion.
The week before, we were in Hanover, N.H., for a class mini-reunion and homecoming with Holy Cross. Dartmouth lost in overtime and, like Pinecrest, hasn't won a football game in many moons. Guess I'm doomed to winless football.
Our class mini-reunions are every fall, and I've missed only one in 10 years. We have a number of interesting and acclaimed classmates who like to get together to renew our friendships of 50 years ago.
Ralph Manuel is currently our class president and the former dean at Dartmouth prior to his becoming headmaster of Culver Academy. George Steinbrenner, a Culver alumnus, befriended Ralph, who sports a Yankee World Series ring from one of many previous championships.
Hal Bernsen is a retired rear admiral and is a reunion regular. Hal has publicly expressed displeasure with Donald Rumsfeld, the war in Iraq and the Bush administration.
Pete Williamson is professor of neurology at Dartmouth Medical School and is a world-renowned expert in epilepsy. He has a collection of 17 Bugattis, one of which won the best-in-show award at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance. Besides his cars, he enjoys flying and once built his own airplane. While most classmates are retired, Pete still puts in long hours at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock medical center.
Dave Brock is a retired chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. I knew him when he was goalie on the freshman hockey team.
There are many other notable classmates with fascinating backgrounds and stories.
A reception was held at my old fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. A few other brothers from other classes showed up, including "Rip" Ripley, class of 1929. He looked dapper in his bowtie at the ripe old age of 99.
It seems that life was so rich for us then, and we didn't fully appreciate it and our academic and social routines. Visiting lecturers included economist Paul Samuelson, Robert Frost and Henry Kissinger. Our own faculty had some gems as well. Al Foley (history of the West), Herb West (comparative literature), Andy Scarlett (chemistry), Francis Sears (physics), et al.
My freshman English professor, Henry Terrie, became a close friend of John Dempsey, president of Sandhills Community College.
Dartmouth has been the subject of two national news stories recently. A New York Times editorial last Sept. 1 exposed the ugly battle between factions arguing over a newly proposed constitution that addresses a controversial process for electing trustees.
This debate was momentarily overshadowed at the conclusion of the Holy Cross-Dartmouth football game when, as the two teams lined up to shake hands, a fight broke out.
I loved Charles Kuralt, his travels, and his entertaining visits to nooks and crannies within our country. Also, John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" is right up my alley.
The number of places I want to visit is dwindling. Maybe that's the way it was meant to be. Still on my traveling wish list are Outer Mongolia and a ride on the Orient Express to Instanbul. While I'd love to visit Israel and the Holy Land, I've written that one off until the fighting stops.
Right on, Willy!
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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