Ave Atque Vale

(Photo courtesy of Bruce Robbins a.k.a. Ribs)

You may know some of these guys, Dear Readers.  They were Glencoe’s Active Screw Softball Team champs in 1966.

(As I recall, the team motto was “There’s no screw like an active screw.”  Very daring for those innocent times.)

I knew many kids in this photograph.  (I dated some. I even married one.) But the kid I want to write about today is to the right of the guy holding the trophy.  His name was John Barnard.

And he passed away on January 22, 2018.

I’m saddened by this news.  He was a sweet guy.

No, we weren’t real close friends.  At New Trier, John had been in the class ahead of me and I probably hadn’t seen him for fifty years.  A couple of years ago we reunited on FaceBook.  He would read the blogs that I posted there and every once in awhile, he would write a flattering or encouraging comment.

Like I said, sweet guy.

Little did he know it- he probably never would have remembered it- but John had inadvertently played an important part in my personal history.  With his untimely passing went a vivid link to my childhood.

John had been the driver of my first ever (double) date in a car.

It was June 1964 and the night after school let out for summer vacation.  Our phone rang and it was Ricky Gutstadt- my freshman year history class crush.

“Do you want to go out tomorrow night?” he asked.  “My friend John Barnard is a year older than us and he has his license.  He’ll drive.”

I was excited but…

“I have to ask my mother.”

I asked.  She assented- with the proviso that I be home by 10:30.  I had never been allowed on a car date before.

“I can go!” I told Rick.

I picked my outfit with care.  Culottes, a nothing blouse and a charm bracelet.  I thought I looked fabulous.

And the next night, Rick and John and Peggy Fridstein- John’s date for the night- drove over to my house.  From there we went to play miniature golf at Fun Fair.

And then we drove over to see the brand new model car that had just come out.  The car was proudly displayed on a turntable revolving high above Fergus Ford.

The 1964 Mustang.

Wow!  She was quite a looker.  I remember how we all ooohed and aahed at this fabulous new car of the future.

Bucket seats!   Neat-o.

Before I knew it it was getting near the witching hour of 10:30 so John drove me home.

Rick- under the scrutiny of Peggy and John- walked me to my door.

There we politely shook hands.

“I had a very nice time,” I said.

“I’m going to Camp Thunderbird soon but I’ll figure out a way to see you before I go,” Rick promised.

And the rest, as they say, is dating history.

John’s safe driving started me down the road to… well, everything else that ever happened to me romance-wise.

It seems like yesterday.

Rest in peace, John.  You were nice and our double date ended much too soon.

Just like this little life of ours…

This entry was posted in John Barnard, New Trier High School, Nostalgia. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Ave Atque Vale

  1. Mitchell Klein says:

    ER, it was actually the summer of ‘66. Yikes almost 52 years ago,

  2. Steve Lindeman says:

    One of the hardest things to face as I get older, is losing friends and and loved ones. I remember talking to my Grandfather years ago who lived until he was 91 years old and the hardest thing he faced was all his friends had passed and he was reading about their children passing…it was a sad conversation which still rings in my mind. I didn’t know your friend John (which is not surprising knowing how massive our population at New Trier was) but as I get older, it seems easy to try to freeze time in my mind and remember all the fun and laughter during those innocent high school years. I lost my best high school friend a few years back (Mike Schindler who was in your class of 1967) but I have 2 pictures of Mike in a frame on my dresser which reminds me every day of the good times we had and how precious life can be.

    • Ellen Ross says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Steve. But you got the idea. I didn’t know Mike any more than you knew John but this post is a “hail and farewell” to all our friends- and our youth. It went by in a blink of an eye. Thanks for sharing, my friend.

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