The other day I found out that a high school classmate, Bobby Burger, had died and I posted some thoughts while they were still fresh.
Another classmate, Randy Durham, wrote to let me know of three others who have walked into the light.
Gail Farley, Frank Bogan and Marion ‘ Flea’ Woodard have all completed the ultimate in final exams and have graduated so to speak.
Gail was one of those quiet people who never spoke out. In each class she was always one of the smartest. Yet Gail was never picked on. I guess that was because behind the cat’s eye glasses and print dresses she always wore, there was a gentle spirit that was able to transcend the strict social structure that can be cruel when you’re in high school.
Frank always reminded me of Father Mulcahy on MASH. They both exhibited a strong inner spirit when things got rocky. Always there and always in the background, Frank could bring the sun out just with a smile and a few words. A science and math with,, Frank was a veritable Wikipedia before there was such a thing.
Flea was one of the first black kids I met after the schools in Bath County were integrated. Given the nickname Flea by Coach Gary Rice, Marion was the football team’s goto guy when they needed to move the ball down field in a hurry. Every time I watched Flea take the ball and run, I couldn’t be sure if he wasn’t just running for his life. Flea was the tiniest guy on the field, but I think he had the biggest heart.
I wonder what their dreams were. I wonder what this adventure called life did for – – or to – – them. When you’re a teenager you’re always six foot tall and bulletproof. Life will never end and we’ll each find gold at the end of the rainbow.
Or so we hope.
**Jerry Nelson** * is a native of Hot Springs, Virginia. A world class photographer, his work has appeared in many of the nation’s leading media outlets. He currently resides with his wife Ale in Argentina where gauchos, futbol and ‘La Pampas’ hold his attention. *