When I was in high school at Binghamton Central, I was president of the student government in 1970. The radio and/or TV station WNBF got the student government heads from around the area to get together maybe six times a year to “rap”; that meant to talk, in those days. The guy from Johnson City HS was this long-haired freak named John. We really hit it off, and from time to time ended up at demonstrations together, at least one antiwar event which involved us running from tear gas. It was…fun, actually.
We lost track, and then I heard that he died a few years later, which was sad. But then I ran into him, which was just plain freaky. Seems that he WAS at death’s door, technically dead, but then was revived. Not only that, he was going out with an old girlfriend of mine. They got married; I attended the ceremony. We had some good times, and some not so good times together. Eventually, John and my ex split up. To be reductivist about it, he was largely at fault. He moved out of state – to Florida, I believe – and I lost track of him again.
Then I get an e-mail the other day from my ex-girlfriend, with whom I’ve maintained a friendship. There was an obit in the local (Binghamton) paper. John K. really was dead. He’d been living in Washington state, had gotten remarried, and was, in the flowery prose of obituaries – “a man of varied interests with a profound zest for life” – happy. He was 54. I don’t know what he died from – yes, I’m extremely curious, and more than a bit unsettled.
Actually, I think it’s a combination of things:
The depature of John Flynn from the Capital District YMCA, heading for Pennsylvania. I haven’t seen him much recently, but when I was on ther local (Albany) board for nine years in thwe late 1980s and early 1990s, I saw him quite a bit. The idea of regionalism is so hard to pull off around here, and John helped pull it off.
The departure of Albany Public Library head Jeff Cannell, heading for a post in the State Department of Education. Since I’m the VP of the Friends of the APL, I got to see Jeff a fair amount. I liked him, a refreshing change after his autocratic predecessor.
Then there was the passing of fellow church member John Scott, and the effect I know that must have on his family – the funeral was last Saturday.
Plus the death of my favorite Celtic, DJ at the age of 52 of cardiac arrest last week, has me in a bit of a mood, shall we say.
Bob Woodruff, the former ABC News anchor who was almost killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last year, has a special on tonight (10 ET on ABC) and also will be on Oprah and Good Morning America today. His wife Lee, who used to attend the church to which I now belong, will also be on all of these programs.