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In Memorial

A Tribute to our Beloved Classmates

One day, at South Fort Worth Elementary, after a game of kickball,
Jerry Langston plopped down beside me and
said, "How ya doin', ya big scallop?" And that's when
I began to learn about seafood. Five years later, I
rushed into Gwendolyn Howell's history class, late
[probably a Pantherette deadline] and crashed into my
seat next to Millie Grice. I smiled at Millie, a cute
girl who grew up on the South Side not far from my
house, and gave her my best 'rakish eyebrow'
treatment. She smiled at my silliness. Miss Howell saw
me [little got by her] and said, "I see you making
eyes at Millie!" We were both terribly embarrassed and
remembered the episode at our tenth reunion.
Not long after Wichita Falls beat us a second consecutive year
in the state football playoffs, Mike McCullough, who had been
on the field that day, quieted a rowdy
homeroom discussion by outlining the X's and the O's that
showed how they did it. "They'll win state," he predicted
and they did. Another friend plotted about asking
out our class's arguably most beautiful girl. He reasoned that
she sat at home because everyone else assumed
she already had plans. So he called her. She was free
that weekend, as it turned out, and that is how
Steve Mehl got a date with Patricia Lind. And Letty
Lou Walsh -- a doctor's daughter! -- was asked not to
come to school for two days because she had been
caught smoking a cigarette in the girls' room! The
scandal! [Oh, for those innocent times again!] I
recall Eddie Boyle telling Kirk Zimmer to "Remember
who you're batting for!" and then the Paschal baseball
team laughing their collective butts off. Me, too, as
the sportswriter covering the game. Years later, also
in the service, I heard of Eddie's untimely death
during Vietnam, his Navy plane auguring in to the
South China Sea. The vagaries of war and the question
every man asks himself: why Eddie, and why
not me? One day, business sent me to Washington, and I
looked up Eddie's name on The Wall and even though I
had known him only as an athlete, and not as a friend,
I reached up and put my fingers on his chiseled name and
I cried.

They are here, a bit more than three dozen of them
now, our classmates, people whom we might have loved
and who might have loved us back. We cherish the good
times and the memories and the thousand and one things
That they said or did or didn't say or didn't do,
the little stuff, and the big stuff,
the silly stuff, the things that have
become part of that the flowing tapestry called 'our
life.' Our life at that special time and in that
special place.

I thought of Frost when Wayne Bigham generously asked
me to "write something" for this special place on our
Website. I wanted to quote Frost, because we all
studied him, and I nearly did, but the words of
another poet came to mind and I'm going to close with
those instead.

Raymond Carver was about our age when he died,
maybe a bit younger.
He was a boozer and a hell-raiser, a poor father and
a worse husband, but ten years before the end, he
sobered up and he got right with his children and the
world and his craft and he left us with much good
literature, and more than a few terrific poems. That
which follows is Raymond Carver's last poem. He wrote
it as he lay on his bed in a small cottage above Puget
Sound, dying of an inoperable brain tumor. It's called
"Late Fragment." Here's what Raymond Carver wrote:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Let us love those who are still with us. That's what
they would have wanted. To feel beloved.

Allen (Mike) McCorstin
June 1, 2002