Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Farewell, Frantic Frank; Goodbye, Wild Bill; Rest Well Ye Boyhood Shadows

In our final year the alleged educators deciding our lives tried to guide us on career paths or at least that was their story.  Since my section was part of the Academic program, sans higher math or not, they attempted to entice us with University life by bussing the three academic sections to Muhlenberg College. Nothing against the institution, but why in the world Muhlenberg? I would have thought a State College, West Chester State Teachers College perhaps (Today this is West Chester University). Muhlenberg was a private, Lutheran affiliated school. Separation of Church and State got no consideration, of course.
Really, all I remember about our day trip was a pep rally in their stadium and freshman having to wear little beanies and sing some stupid song. The pep rally was a big deal because they were about to play Moravian, their biggest rivals and located just up the highway on the other side of the Lehigh River. Moravian College was associated with the Moravian Theological Seminary, so it wasn't separated from religion either.

I mentioned this before, but the powers-that-be also took us to the Medical School of Temple University for a day. Wow, from the small to the large, Muhlenberg with less than 2,500 enrollment and Temple with more than 25,000 undergraduates, and maybe 10,000 postgraduates. It was here where Ray and Richard Ray and I wandered up North Broad Street to a little side restaurants to get lunch. Our booth had photographs of operations on the wall. All the booths did. All in living color.

In the spring before graduation,  in our waning weeks, people with portfolios of paperwork came from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. They ran a series of aptitude tests. Some reminded me of toys you buy for your infants, fit the shape in the proper hole, that kind of thing. They then interviewed us each individually. A man and woman asked me what I wanted to be (when I grew up)? I said, a writer. They shook their heads.
The woman said, “I don’t think you have enough vocabulary to be a writer.”
The man said, “We think you would do best running a machine.”
He didn’t say what kind of machine, a giant shape sorter, perhaps.
Listen Lady, I could find plenty of vocabulary to say what I thought of you two. Maybe I should have gotten a government job like you two where you don’t need hearts or brains, where you smugly try to control everyone else’s life and dash people’s dreams, and then collect a big fat government pension check paid for by other people’s hard work.
The people from the Department of Labor were not aware I had taken a writing aptitude test earlier that year. In August I applied for membership in the Newspaper Institute of America, One Park Place, New York (pictured right) and was required to take a writing aptitude test. I received a letter about the results saying, “For one so young you have done very good work with our Writing Aptitude Test”. They suggested, however, that I “better wait until [I was] at least eighteen before enrolling as a member.”

How words are used, not the number, defines good writing. These Labor Department people didn’t understand this. If “Brevity is the soul of wit,” then it also applies to communicating in the written word. They should refer to what Ernest Hemingway called his best short story.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
That is it, the whole story. It communicates a lot, as one analysis said, enough for a movie”.

So where did we all go after the days of Frantic Frank, Wild Bill Shakespeare and Gravely & Hearse?
Ray Dillard Ayres, Jr., known as Sonny, came from a family of mixed religions, Protestant and Roman Catholic. He had been raised Protestant, but in the senior year of high school decided to switch to Catholicism. When he began this he also decided he cursed too much. Why this feeling went with becoming Roman Catholic I can’t say. As far as I know Protestants take as dim a view of cursing,as Catholics, some maybe more so. He wanted me to help him stop the swearing habit. He instructed me to swat him on the back of the head anytime I heard him use a cuss word. Loyal friend that I was, I agreed and for a while he took a regular head bashing from me. We did as a result do a lot of explaining to teachers when smack in the middle of a class there would be a literal smack to the middle of Ray’s head.

He did stop cursing.

Ray had put a lot of pressure on himself that year, besides his religious conversion. First, he resigned from the football team. He felt it was interfering with his studies. He was one of the star players and his resignation did not sit well with either the coaches or his teammates. He stood on his convictions. Some of the other players called him names, but he refused to back down. He had enough other activities that he enjoyed more, besides in truth, he could have probably beat up most of the other guys anyway.
He was also the star of the school’s gym show. His best performances were on the ones I couldn’t do, horizontal bar and rings. During the same time he was preparing for the gym show, he was wrestling at the YMCA for a championship. There were two performances of the gym show, once for the students in the school and once for parents and anyone else that cared to come the next evening. Ray did the student’s show in the afternoon of the same day he was in the big YMCA wrestling tournament finals. He went from the school gym to the Y gym. I was at the show to see him, and Peggy, whom I was still dating at that time,  and I went to the YMCA to watch his wrestling. He was tired. He made it to the last match in his weight class at the Y and was pinned. I had never seen him so devastated. You couldn’t talk to him. I am certain he would have won that Y championship match if he hadn’t done the gym show. Sometimes we just put too much on ourselves.
Ray and I were close friends in high school. We helped encourage each other at times. He was the kid in the class everyone liked. He had looks and wit; he was a fine student and an all-around athlete. He was the type of guy people often vote most likely to succeed. We really didn’t have that sort of selection in our school. If we had, Ray certainly would been a top candidate. He was named one of the Class Clowns instead.
After he graduated he seemed to drift, though. In 1964 he remained single and was living in Seattle, Washington. In 1969 he was back in Pennsylvania and married. He was a student at West Chester State College (now West Chester University), where he earned a teaching degree. In 1974 he was in the restaurant business with a brother-in-law named Coffee co-owning The Angus Pub in Birdsboro.  He soon disappeared from that scene when the restaurant failed. After that he simply disappeared for the next 25 years, at which time he showed up as a retired carpenter/chef living in Reading, Pa.
I heard nothing from him or about him in the interim years. When I saw he was back living in nearby Reading, I considered contacting him but as so often happens, I never did. He died in September 2012.

Raymond D. Ayres Jr., 71, of Reading died Sept. 29, 2012, at 7:15 p.m. in Tremont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Tremont, where he was a guest since Aug. 19, 2011.
Born in Pottstown, he was a son of the late Raymond D. Ayres Sr. and Anna Pauline (Dowhunick) Ayres.
He is survived by his companion, two daughters, three sisters and one grandson.
Graveside services with military honors in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, Annville, will be private at the convenience of the family.

Published in Reading Eagle on October 3, 2012

In the fall after we graduated, Richard Ray Miller contacted me and asked if I would go to Philadelphia with him. He had never been to the city, at least not on his own. He knew I had been and he wanted company, someone who he presumed knew his way around. He was going to the Bell Telephone office to apply for a job as a Linesman.

We took the Reading Train from Royersford to the Market Street Terminal. Although I had no desire to be a Linesman with my acrophobia, I thought it would look better for Ray if I also applied. Potential employers just might have a tad resistance to applicants who com with a babysitter. The receptionist sent us into a back room for aptitude tests. It took several hours. I did very well on the electronic test, but poor on the mechanical test. Ray did badly on both. They turned him down for a job consideration. He was very depressed on the ride home.
In 1964 he was still living at his parent’s home, but there was no other information about him. In 1969 he had a new address, but still no other news. By 1974 he had moved to an apartment in Spring City. He was married with two children and working as a plumbing and heating contractor. In 1979 he was again at a different address with no other information available. By 1984 he had disappeared from view. He died in 1989 at 48 years of age. I heard from former classmates that his life had went downhill and he became an alcoholic, which they assumed contributed to his demise.

My friend Phil Hahn, the big guy who had bloodied my nose wrestling in gym, renewed our friendship for a couple years when he lived in Gibbsboro, New Jersey and my wife and I lived in Pine Hill. He was a large fellow with a gentle heart. (Pictured left Phil and his wife Pam in our 1974 apartment.) He played a roll in our Shakespeare Play. He was an account executive for a funding company. He died in 2009.

The girl who I refused to dance with at a Sadie Hawkin’s Dance married after high school and had three daughters and a son. She died in 2008.

Walter Stanley Marsland III, better known as “Wally Segap”, the boy who almost lost a thumb during the Shakespeare Assembly died in 2000, age 59


The giddy girl in the Baby Doll PJs Richard and I "kidnapped" to the Tropical Treat in one of the “borrowed” cars married a fellow classmate. She was a vice-president of a bank for a while, then they moved to Montana where they own two outlet stores. I think they are both retired now.

Howard "Homer" Turner was the first friend I made at NORCO High. He remained a member of our "Clown Squad" throughout high school. After Graduation he faded away and disappeared. He died sometime between 1999 and 2009

I do not know of the after school lives of the notorious Q Gang. They all became mote to my life by twelfth grade because they all dropped out of school at age 16. I heard scuttlebutt that they were involved in a riot and knife fight at Sunnybrook Ballroom during one of Dick Clark's shows, but know no real facts.  Now the leader of the gang has went on to own and run a successful business since. So remember, children,  this is what happens when you never pay attention and disrupt every class in school and drop out in eleventh grade, you become a successful businessman.

Gary Kinzey, was one of my earliest friends and after Kindergarten we had an on again off again relationship. He was an electronic wizard and he and I shared a common bond over electric trains. In Junior High School we had a falling out. Later in his life he became a tugboat captain here in Delaware. One evening he came home and said he was tired. He went into the living room, sat down in an easy chair and he never got up again. He was around 70.
Gary E. Kinzey

Age 70, of Wilmington, died on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at his home.

Gary was born in 1941 in Pottsville, PA to the late Ralph and Anne Kinzey. He attended Downington High School and Drexel Institute's Engineering program. He was employed by the DuPont CO. until 1973, then he started Kinzey Insulation. In 1992 he became building inspector and code enforcer for the Town of Newport until retiring in 2001.

Gary's range of interests, knowledge and skills was wide. He could drive anything, build anything, and fix anything. He will be greatly missed.

Gary is survived by his wife of 41 years, Lorraine; his children, Scott, Pam and Adam, and his 4 grandchildren.

Another early friend we discussed in these post was Denny Myers, who lived up the street
from me in Downingtown.  Denny was a close buddy before I moved to the swamp house, no so much when I moved back. He died last year at 73.
Dennis C. Myers of Downingtown

Dennis C. Myers, 73, of Downingtown, passed away on Sunday, September 27, 2015, at his residence. He was the loving husband of Sue Serafino Myers, with whom he had celebrated his 56th anniversary on September 26.

Born in Coatesville, he was the son of the late William Myers and the late Earl and Dixie Shirk.

Dennis was a 1959 graduate of Downingtown High School. After high school he worked for Bell Maintenance Products, retiring as president after 40 years of service. He then went on to work as a sales representative for the Philip Rosenau Company.

He was an avid sports fan and loved watching sporting events. He especially enjoyed high school and college wrestling and he officiated high school wrestling. Dennis also coached little league baseball, Babe Ruth baseball, American Legion baseball and Little Whippets football.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Mark (Michele) Myers, of Downingtown; daughters, Lori (Paul) Romano, of Downingtown, and Dawn (Frank) Cosella, of Chester Springs; brothers, Michael (Jobi) Myers, of Florida, Stephen (Marianne) Shirk, of Millsboro, Del., and David (Barbara) Shirk, of Nebraska; sister, Tammy (Ray) Houston, of Phoenixville; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his son, Scott Myers.     

A number of my earliest friends were girls, who lived near on Washington Avenue You saw them over and over in photographs of my pre-school and grade school birthday parties.
Bonnie Lou Walton, who often played in our groups, especially in our evening hide and seek games, died in Detroit, Michigan on March 17, 2010. She was 68. I know almost nothing of her life after our school years. Other than she never married.

Another was Judy Baldwin, a close friend in those days of Iva Darlington. That is Judy just slightly behind Iva in the photo. Judy is making a face. In her later years she developed Alzheimer’s and she passed away in 2012.
Judith Baldwin Nixdorf, 70, of Stacy, died Wednesday, December 12, 2012, at home.

A memorial service will be held at Otway Christian Church on Sunday, December 16, 2012, at 3:00 p.m., with Chaplain Jack Mumford, presiding. Another memorial will be held at The Donohue Funeral Home in Downingtown, PA, on Saturday, December 28, 2012, at 2:00 p.m.

Mrs. Nixdorf was born on January 19, 1942, in Downingtown, PA, to Russell Gibson and Margaret Mae Jamison Baldwin.

She is survived by her husband of 49 years, G. Bruce Nixdorf of Stacy; daughters, Dana N. Reinhart of Coatesville, PA, Lauren N. Riddell of New Castle, DE, and Shannon N. Wright of Stacy, NC; sisters, Lois Sample of West Chester and Eileen F. Buck of Bradenton, FL; and grandson, Leo M. Wright, IV, of Stacy, NC.

In addition to her parents, her brothers, Russell G. Baldwin, Jr. and William F. Baldwin; and sister, Joyce L. Baldwin, preceded her in death.

Her husband, who was another acquaintance and playmate of mine during our boyhoods, died from an accident in 2014. That is Bruce in the white shirt. The woman to his left dressed in black is Judy.
Whereas, the Almighty God, in his infinite wisdom has removed from our midst on Sunday, August 3, 2014, one of our beloved brothers and Life Member, G. Bruce Nixdorf, who was always found faithful in the discharge of his duties and whose every thought and purpose was for the welfare of his company and department. And, while we deeply regret and mourn the loss sustained in the death of our late brother, we bow in humble submission to the Divine Will.
Therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the Alert Fire Co. No. 1 of Downingtown, PA, do hereby extend and convey to the bereaved family and friends our deep and heartfelt sympathy.

Bruce passed away at UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NC after the result of an accident. He was the loving husband of the late Judith B. Nixdorf.
He was born on November 2, 1940, in Philadelphia, PA to the late George E. and Eloise Nixdorf and then moved to Downingtown as a child, and lived there until after his retirement, where he and Judy moved to Stacy, NC with his daughter Shannon and family. Bruce was employed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Philadelphia, PA until his retirement, and then he did consulting work.


Richard Allan Wilson was the first friend I met upon moving to Bucktown and became one of my closest.

When I got the Belcor Tape recorder for Christmas he and I would spend time making up little plays. Rich proved to be very quick at adlibbing. We did comic interviews ala Bob and Ray, the radio comedians. We called these the “Mike Walrus Interview Show”. Richard got to be such characters as Dr. James Q. Whitemeat and John Cameron Swayback. We never got to perform together in school due to our grade separation.
He sold his $40 car and got a 1955 Chevy after he got his driver’s license. In my senior year he sometimes drove us places. He was always modifying his cars. He was switching the Chevy’s column shift to a floor shift, but had not completed the job. He had to reach through a hole in the floor with a screwdriver to change gears. He did this bent over looking down, not at traffic. Somehow we survived.
Richard served as an usher at my marriage in 1961 and then drifted out of my life. He never reached his dream of designing cars. He died in August 2002 at the age of 60.

I included the death and obituary of Suzy Cannell in my prior chapter. She was not the only one of my girlfriends to pass away. Margaret “Peggy” Whitely has also died, the girl I dated for several month and who bit my thumb at the drive in.
Margaret A. Farling, age 67, died of complications from cancer on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. Pegge, as
she is known to family and friends, was a Chester County resident for most of her life. She was a graduate of Kutztown University (BS Education) and Temple University (MA Education) and taught in the Pottstown School District prior to marrying David J. Farling.

After raising three children, Pegge went back to teaching in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. She was an avid horseback rider and an active member of the book club at Aronimink Golf Club. She enthusiastically supported her sons’ interest in rugby at Conestoga High School and in their college years.

Pegge and her husband shared a passion for travel. After retirement the two of them set out for adventures through out North America and Europe.

Most recently, she and her husband settled at Waverly Heights where they found many new friends.

Pegge is survived by her beloved husband, David, her children David, Linda Clemons, Robert, their spouses and grandchildren Peri, Sydney, Jeffrey and Hunter.

An era had ended. For one year I was kind of like somebody. With the end of May of 1959 I was Nowhere Man again.

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