Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Going Back To My Old High School

I just got back from Maryland. I saw family and friends, my goddaughter, and one other special person.

The song goes like this...I was driving down the highway, on my way to see my Dad, when I saw the exit for my old high school. On a whim, on a lark, I took it and proceeded to go down memory lane.

First stop Arundel Junior High, I went to 7th Grade there. It's now Arundel Middle School, my how times have changed. One other change is today is the first day of 7th grade for my twins. My how times have really changed.

Next stop was my alma mater, Arundel Senior High. It's up the hill from the first school and I rode through the parking lot around to the gym, my old stomping grounds. You know how you hear music in a scene in a movie? I heard the Rocky theme in my head as I pulled up. A custodian was coming out and I said,"Can I go inside? I went to school here."

Well lo and behold he let me in and it was like manna from heaven.

When I was 17 and on my way to graduation, there was a rumble going on in my school. Our wrestling team was on it's way to it's first County and District championships, and along with it, we had our first state champion, Jerry Nieves.

I was a captain on that team.

The picture you see here was taken after the County Championships. You'll notice that the back row is all Arundel Wildcats. That's Jerry, back row third from the right, and I have no idea who the big guy with the Afro is.

Someone had to coach that team and here is where the story gets really good.

Buddy Hepfer was that guy.

You will not find a more decent person, a better coach, a great father. He was someone we would all have run through a brick wall for.

Back in the present at my old high school I talked a bit, I saw what I came to see, and was off. On another lark, I didn't recall Buddy's exact address, but I remembered the road Buddy lived on and drove there.

When I turned down his street, I didn't know quite what to expect, maybe him, maybe his name on a mailbox. Turned out it was neither. I turned the car around and on my way out I saw a woman gardening next to a house. I pulled up and said, "Excuse me, do you know where Buddy Hepfer's house," brief pause, "Your husband is?!"

It was his wife, Irene aka Renee.

Talk about your stroke of luck. Hugs and smiles and more hugs. It was great. Turned out Buddy had gone grocery shopping and would be back in an hour or two. I left my number, remember I was on my way to see my Dad, and told Renee to have him call me.

Long story short, he did, and the plans we made brought me to his house the next day. Those hugs were hard and a lot of back slapping came with them. We both said the same thing, "I thought I'd never see you again!"

Here's the deal, when I had my stroke my sweet wife changed carriers for my cell phone, to have us both on the same plan, which gave me a new number. Unbeknown to me, when you called the old number it did not include, "the new number is," and I lost all the folks who had that previous number.

Buddy was one of them.

After we cleared that up, we went out back, the three of us, sipped iced tea, and just talked. I've lived a long time and had many special moments but our time together was magical.

We talked about back in the day, we talked about our kids, we talked about life, we talked about everything. He showed me a framed picture in his house. It was Buddy, Renee, and me. When he retired, I was the emcee that night.

To see me on Buddy's wall...

We both are determined to stay in touch.

As I drove off, waving like I was crazy, a few thoughts ran through my head.

How great it was to see him again.

How funny life is.

And how you can go home again.





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