I never knew Whitey before but after meeting him he seemed like an old friend that I had known all my life. Whitey called me on Friday June 19th to tell me the article about Brenda and me was in the local paper, The Daily Standard, along with a picture of the two of us.
I had sent Whitey a cassette tape of me singing sacred and secular songs. He is active in the Celina area but grew up in a town five miles away called Coldwater. There is a group of people who get together on occasion for lunch and he was sharing the tape and newspaper article with a person he was giving a ride to the luncheon. She said “I know this fellow! He was in my 9th grade class and lived a block and a half from me! His grandfather used to come to our garage and talk to my dad who repaired lawnmowers.” (Grandpa ended up repairing lawnmowers).
In a few days I received a letter from Marcieta Edmiston Brookhart along with pages out of the 1949 Celina High yearbook which was called ANILEC (Celina spelled backwards). On the Freshman (9th grade) page was my last class I attended in Celina. She marked her picture and mine along with a fellow I had mentioned in the newspaper article named Paul Shiverdecker. Paul was a newspaper boy like me and I sold my Whizzer Motor Bike to Paul when I left Celina. She also sent the Junior (11th Grade) page which had my brother Ben and our mutual friend Helen Howell (Ben’s former girlfriend). Ben also left Celina in 1949 which broke the relationship. Helen married Karl Allmandinger. See the connection?
Her letter prompted me to call her and get some information on my classmates. She seemed to know a lot about this group and I asked her if she was on the reunion committee. YES! I sent her my autobiography and a couple of music items I recorded. She will have them on display along with the newspaper article at the October 11th reunion of the class of 1952.
Marcieta went picture by picture giving me what she knows of each person. It is surprising to me that many have already passed away. Some by accident. I asked about Jim Wagner. She told me that he is a retired Methodist pastor. Jim was a friend of those years and we haven’t had any contact in 60 years since I moved. She gave me his phone number and I called him. He is living in Galloway, Ohio. Dr. James Wagner was home and came to the phone. I mentioned who I was and he couldn’t recall by name our connection. I told him I didn’t call him ’Jim’ but ‘Red’. He laughed and said he did have red hair then. I also told him I took a picture of him and his very good friend Jackson Cole in 1948 next to Grand Lake with my box camera. He hasn’t thought of Jackson since those days as Jackson had moved away as I did. I sent a copy of the picture to him along with some music cassettes and CDs that I had made. Also sent the autobiography that I wrote on my life just to bring him up to date on me.
Dr. James K. Wagner has written a number of books on The Healing Ministry Of The Church published by Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee. He was on staff there from 1984 to 1993. Something he specialized in doing in his churches. He sent me a couple of his books. Something I will treasure. He sent me a summary of his personal and work life that was prepared for the 50th Anniversary Reunion of his college graduation in 2006 (same year I celebrated my 50th Anniversary College Reunion). Jim has had an interesting life. It was nice to reconnect with him. We will keep in touch.
We met Whitey who knew Marcieta who remembered me and gave me Jim’s phone number and the beat goes on. Interesting how “Divine Appointments” happen, isn’t it? I am interested in whether or not there will be more contacts from the October 11, 2009 reunion where some of my things will be displayed. I’ll keep you posted.
My brother Ben - his Junior Class picture in 1949.
Helen Howell - Her Junior Class picture in 1949.
Marcieta Edmiston - Her Freshman Class picure in 1949.