My group from the K to 9 school Daniel S. Dickinson entered Binghamton Central in February of 1968, along with far more kids from West Junior and also MacArthur. I felt a bit overwhelmed.
But thanks in no small part to Karen, I found a whole coterie of new friends, left-of-center leaning, civil-rights-supporting, antiwar chums such as Vito, Jane, Michelle, Steve, Catherine and the two Georges.
It had been the tradition in student government that someone other than the candidate give the nominating speech. Apparently, my oratory for Karen when she ran for secretary was rip-roaring; I know it came from the heart.
The next year, they changed the rules, and candidates had to give their own speeches. Meh. I ran for student government president, gave what most thought was a mediocre speech, but won anyway. Carol was the vice-president. Dickinson rules!
But before my sister Leslie and her friend Christine, only a year and a half behind me, got to Central, they had to spend a year or two at West Junior.
The thing about old friends is that you don’t have to see them often to pick up on the relationship.
We went to our 10th high school reunion in 1981, and it wasn’t particularly interesting. But the afterparty was great. I DID get tired of Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones, however.
In 1982, Bill invited Karen, Lois, Carol and me over to his house. We stayed up nearly all night, talking. A year or two later, I went to Bill’s wedding as I had gone to Carol’s about a half decade earlier.
When I was at a low point in the fall of 1977, Karen came from the Boston area to New Paltz to proverbially kick my butt. We had some significant conversations when I’d visit her in the Boston area in the early 1980s. Though she had moved to New York City by then, she came to my 1998 taping of JEOPARDY! in Boston.
Karen has turned me on to music, always, from The Beatles to The Band to Los Lobos to latter Johnny Cash to Valerie June. She came to Albany to see Paul McCartney in 2014.
Carol lived in the Mid Hudson of New York State and I was working at FantaCo in Albany. Coming back from New York City, my colleague’s vehicle broke down on the Taconic, and Carol came to our rescue. Before she moved south, she went to one of the MidWinter’s parties I used to frequent.
When my high school class had a reunion – I want to say 32nd? – I went, primarily because Carol and Karen and Bill and Lois and Bernie were going to be there. Circa 2009, we discovered that Karen from NYC, and Carol from TX, and I from ALB would all be in Binghamton the same weekend, and of course got together.
In 2018, I’ve been in email contact with Carol and Karen. I spent two hours on the phone with Bill.
Back when I was in college, they tore down Daniel Dickinson school, which was weird because, by all accounts, it was better constructed than, for instance, Wilson.
But it was in that “bad” neighborhood. It never seemed that bad to me.