Belinda Christian Colbert
We are sad to report the reunion committee received this email while searching for some of our missing classmates.
"I lost Belinda to Cancer on March 22, 2012 after a short illness of 5 months. We were married for 42 years and all were wonderful. We made, I believe, the 25th reunion and she had a great time and so did I. Enjoy the years together with your spouses and your classmates."
May God Bless.
Back to the Drawing Board:
A Belated Father’s Day Homage -
September, 1964: I was almost 19 years old. Although there are no pictures of me in that setting, I, too, spent plenty of time seated at a drawing board. In those days, there was a sequence of three mechanical drawing courses at the beginning of the freshman engineering curriculum at Auburn that students were required to take: EG 102, 103, and 104. Through them, prospective engineers were to acquire a drawing skill and a basic visual language that would be essential to their careers. The courses, in their increasing difficulty, served as a threshold to the profession—not only because of their priority in the curriculum, but also because of the importance of what they sought to instill. The courses could be seen, too, as early indicators of one’s harmony with the profession.
I never talked to my father about the early days of his apprenticeship. I know from his story that it meant, unmistakably and painfully, the loss of one world (“With that my childhood ended.”) and the entry into a very different one, but he never expatiated about how he fared at the start. The young dreamer had been brought to earth and forced to deal with reality (a necessity during those tumultuous times and absolutely essential in the dire ones to follow). Judging by the photograph and the positivity my father expressed about what he learned, he had found an environment in which he could flourish.
That first fall quarter I trudged up Magnolia Avenue from my dorm to the mechanical drawing lab in Ramsay Hall two nights a week; the class met from 6 pm to 9 pm. My apprenticeship soon turned into misery. Not only was the class starting time lousy—right when darkness fell-- but EG 102 served as the early focal point for the conflict that roiled within me. Shortly after classes started I sensed that I wasn’t cut out to be an engineer (except maybe an “engineer of the human soul,” but I didn’t encounter that phrase until several years later—and since Stalin fashioned it, we won’t linger there). I knew that something was wrong, but I was invested in the illusion that I could somehow make it through. I dreamed on, though disquieted.
There we sat those evenings, like monks in a medieval scriptorium, not illuminating or transcribing sacred texts, but intent on learning the conventions and technique of creating a good drawing that presented engineering information unambiguously. I remember the initial ritual well: one placed the drawing plate (a large, yellow sheet of thick paper upon which one executed the assigned exercise) on the drawing board, lined it up square with one’s t-square, and then taped the corners of the plate to the board with masking tape. Once one was aligned with the space-time continuum, it was time to consider the problem and choose the proper tools and instruments. I had inherited-- from my father or older brother-- a fine set of compasses, dividers, and ruling pens. One slid out the pin on the case that freed the internal clasp, snapped it open, and there they lay—gleaming, precision-crafted steel instruments, each nested in its black velvet-lined niche. They were works of art, plain and elegant in their form and function. Fine little machines. I don’t know if my father ever saw them as anything other than utilitarian, but I beheld a stark beauty.
Other tools we used as we worked: several triangles (called square-sets for some reason), mechanical pencils; plastic templates for lettering, numbering, and drawing circles; protractors, triangular measuring scales; several French curves; and erasers.
I don’t seem to be writing about misery anymore, do I? Nevertheless, it persisted. I usually labored for the full three hours on the exercises. In the sequence of drawing courses, I made two C’s, an F, and then a C. The third course proved to be the hairiest. Termed “Descriptive Geometry,” it took mechanical drawing into complicated dimensions. It required a depth of analytical thinking that I could not fathom the first time around. I made a C in the course when I repeated it, a muted triumph. I gained some clarity, but I really wasn’t getting anywhere.
I had stumbled around in one area and had failed in the other, more important preliminary courses associated with the chemical engineering major-- with much harder material ahead. Under the weight of so many accumulating F’s, the illusion that I would prevail collapsed. The discordance was obvious. I knew it was time for a change. I was going to have to start all over and come back with a new design for myself. Fortunately, a charismatic English professor, aptly named Dr. Wright, helped me uncover that self.
Gopnik’s pithy statement describes the mystery of father-son relations. As such, it suggests an ancient subject matter, ever with us. It played itself out in Huntsville and Auburn, as I tried to emulate my father. I have honored him in my way, the counterpart/point to his life and autobiography.
When I first starting thinking about this piece, I considered titling it “Like Father, Like Sons.” But then I decided to take a different approach. Anyway, it is a curious fact that all three of our father’s sons—my brothers Dieter, Gunter, and I-- took the mechanical drawing sequence at Auburn over the span of ten years. Dieter was the first, and he became a mechanical engineer and later earned an MBA. I followed, and after a few career changes, ultimately became a librarian. Gunter, the family artist, scored all A’s in the courses, and became an industrial designer. We followed in our father’s footsteps, but then bent away to our own path.
Here’s a final irony: one of the required courses I took that first quarter in 1964 was “Introduction to the Library.” I did not pay attention to that messenger.
As the September reunion approaches, I thought of several close friends from long ago that I have not seen in many years, and hope that some of you have contact information that will help convince them to attend.
KEN MEGGINSON; In addition to being very close friends at LHS and playing in the band together, Ken and I were roommates at Auburn during freshman year. Ken then enlisted in the Army, where he spent four years in places such as Vietnam, Korea and Ft. Hood, Texas. He told me once that Ft. Hood (home of the 2nd Armored Division) was such an armpit, that if he ever were forced back in the Army, he would be on the first boat heading toward Southeast Asia. Ken married a lovely young woman from a small town in Texas, Anda, and returned to Auburn to complete his education. He became a high school teacher in the Mobile County school system, and was (at least once) named "Teacher of the Year." I heard that he also ran for political office, but have no details. For many years I phoned Ken on his birthday, May 7, and he always seemed surprised that I had remembered it. To the great disappointment of many of us. Ken has NEVER attended a reunion. Maybe the Reunion Committee can appoint a subcommittee from the Class of '65 to launch a "We Want Ken Here!" campaign.
RANDY ROMAN; Besides his talent as a saxophonist, Randy was a good left-handed pitcher for Max Burleson, and a great leader. Our Senior Year, He was Student Council President, I was Vice-President, and Linda Davis and DeeDee Locke were Secretary and Treasurer. We had a great trip to Mobile with Miss Ingram as faculty advisor, for the Alabama State Student Council annual meeting. After going to Peabody, a music school in Nashville, Randy earned an M.B.A., married, had three daughters, and lived in Atlanta for a while during the mid-1970s when I was a resident at Emory/Grady, and we re-connected. He also played sax professionally with a number of bands; I attended a performance at an Atlanta hotel by Joey Heatherton backed up by Randy as a member of her 15-piece orchestra. He then moved to Macon and became an executive with Capricorn Records, producing music by The Allman Brothers, Dixie Dregs, and The Marshall Tucker Band, among others. The last I heard about Randy was from his younger sister Sandy, who attended the 2010 reunion. She told me he was living in Florida, but I can't recall where. If anyone has contact info for Sandy, maybe we can track him down and get him to attend.
ROGER BECKS; Living on Monte Sano, my elementary school was Blossomwood, located near Big Cove Road. When schools were re-zoned in 1959, I began 7th grade, as did most of us, at the new Lee Junior High. Roger and I were practically joined at the hip for the next three years, playing trumpet in the band, sharing many classes, and stumbling awkardly through puberty. I spent many nights sleeping over in his home at 820 Stanhope Drive. Mrs. Wikle often teased him, good-naturedly, about his "girth," i.e. his belt size, to which he would whine in reply: "Aw, Mrs, Wikle......." Roger stayed quite serious about music, learning to play several instruments. He earned the first Master's Degree in Trumpet ever awarded by Murray State (Ky.), a prestigious college of music with a national reputation. Roger became a Minister of Music at a series of Baptist churches. At last year's Class of '64 reunion, I was delighted to find myself sitting at a table with his sister Sylvia, who during the early 60s was like a sister to me. She said he is still a Minister of Music, now in Birmingham; my guess is that he is at one of the "Megachurches" with a huge congregation, inspired every Sunday by his music. Roger attended an early reunion, I think the 10th, but never returned; I have always thought that he, as a tee-totaller, may have been put off by the excessive alcohol consumption, shamelessly wild dancing and general rowdiness of the evening. If that is the case, then please come back, Roger. Our livers are now on Medicare, many of our knees have been replaced, and most of us retire to bed before the band stops playing. We hope to see you in September, Old Buddy.
PAM (CLARK) DICKENS: Pam and I were very close not only as friends at LHS, but also through church. We attended St. Thomas Episcopal, a small church at 100 Bob Wallace Avenue, just off Whitesburg Drive (to orient some of you a bit better, it was on the right as you drove from LHS Country to the Whitesburg Drive-in Theater). There was an active youth group, the Episcopal Young Churchmen (EYC) which met every Sunday night. EYC members included Bob Crump (also an ardent churchgoer), Fred Sanders, Kim Robertson, Tommy Lotz, and others. As do most of us, I vividly recall Friday, November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. St. Thomas held an impromptu worship service that very Friday night; Pam and I were both there, tears in our eyes. The last time I saw Pam was at the wedding of Sally Dawley and Don Stroud; she looked and sounded wonderful, big smile as always. She and Justin had a daughter, Kim Dickens, who is now a well-known and successful film actress who has starred in major supporting roles in such films as "Hollow Man" (2000) with Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Paul Giamatti and Josh Brolin, and last year's mega-hit "Gone Girl" as the police officer investigating Ben Affleck's character for the murder of his wife. Pam has always been one of my all-time favorite people, and I hope someone is in touch with her, so she can join us at what will no doubt be the last (reality bites) some of us will be around to attend.
Memphis, TN - To my great delight, and somewhat dismay, I find myself with so many submissions I cannot get all of them published in this issue. Perhaps my begging is beginning to pay off. For those of you who have sent me things in the last week or so and have yet to see them in print, please be patient, they will all be used as soon as possible.
The Most Romantic Album Ever?
A few months ago Memphis got a new "Oldie Goldie" radio station. Over the years I have lived here this genre of music has come and gone and just about the time I really get to liking one station, it changes to hip-hop or country and western or talk radio and I find myself once again searching for a new place on my dial to program into my number one radio button.
As I was listing this week, I heard a track from an album I loved as a teenager - Heavenly by Johnny Mathis. I got to thinking about all the tracks on this particular piece of vinyl history and have come to the conclusion it ranks as number one in my list of the most romantic collection of songs ever pressed onto a 33 1/3 rpm album. There may be some underlying reasons for why I think so, but I started to wonder if anyone else could come up with a better choice of a long play album which better qualifies for the honor.
A little research shows this album is considered Mathis' most successful original album, peaking at #1 on the Billboard album chart in its original release, his ninth consecutive album to chart. Its success is only surpassed by his 1958 release Johnny's Greatest Hits, which remained on the Billboard album chart for 490 weeks.
The ultimate in romance is Mathis' version of "Misty", originally recorded and released on this album. The song began its life as an instrumental by pianist Erroll Garner. With lyrics added by Johnny Burke, it was recorded by Sarah Vaughan for her album Vaughan and Violins under the direction of Quincy Jones, but it was Mathis' version that helped to make the song a standard. The song was also a hit single for Mathis, earning him a gold record and peaking at #12 on the Billboard Singles Chart.
The album's title song is the work of Burt Bacharach prior to his success with Hal David in the 1960s. The balance of the songs on the album derive from the Broadway stage and Tin Pan Alley. "Hello, Young Lovers" is from The King and I by Rodgers and Hammerstein, a songwriting team whose work Mathis has often recorded and performed. "Strangers In Paradise" is from Kismet, a 1953 musical. It had been a hit for Tony Bennett and is the first of several songs Mathis would record from the show. From the 1946 show Annie Get Your Gun with a score by Irving Berlin comes the ballad "They Say It's Wonderful".
Of the song standards included on the album, the best known include "More Than You Know", "That's All" and "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening"..
2. Hello, Young Lovers
3. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening
4. Ride on a Rainbow
5. More Than You Know
6. Something I Dreamed Last Night
8. Stranger in Paradise
9. Moonlight Becomes You
10. They Say It's Wonderful
11. I'll Be Easy to Find
12. That's All
I am very interested in hearing if any of you have any comments on this subject or if you have your own favorite album of more romantic songs from our teenage years. Please let me know what you think.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Old Friends
You have probably heard the old saying, "you can never go back home." Its a broad statement but so true and happens so quickly. We lose out in the synchronicity of the things that drive our friends only to be in another world of synchronicity that we grow with and so unlike their's. Then in each others company the conversation dwindles quickly without added effort to sustain it. Our reunions possess that quality. Passion to the mundane, abstinence to grandchildren, youth vibrancy to retirement. Where do we fit in that daily measure of life. Without the daily tweaking of relationships, we just sit there wondering what next to say.
Subject: Reunion Meeting
Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter
Glenn and Rose Marie James and I met with Lakeysha Brown, Marriott's Convention Services Manager on Tuesday. We discussed details of the reunion including where to put the band, dance floor and food!
Just wanted to let our fellow LHS classmates know that their reunion committee is hard at work trying to make this a wonderful reunion. We're getting excited and hoping everyone will want to join in on all the fun on September 11th and 12th.
Click on the image above to see the information about the
upcoming joint '64-'65-'66 2015 Reunion.