Sunday, September 18, 2011

Family, Friends and FUN!

Well, let me just preface this by telling you today -Saturday -was the busiest Saturday I've had in a long, long time. And, what's more, it was filled with family and also friends, lots and lots of old, OLD friends!

Early today, my son and I went to a picnic that was held in honor of a cousin of mine who is running for the office of County Commissioner here! He's a terrific young man and someone I am very -extremely -proud to say he's related to me. His great-grandfather and my Dad were brothers and last night, I convinced my son that some of us -me for sure and hopefully my son as well as daughter, Mandy -would see fit to go to this event with me. Clate was a bit hesitant initially but I told him if I don't show up, I knew his grandmother would have a major hissy fit with me for not being there and I really just didn't want to go by myself. So, anyway, my son decided that okay, he would go with me as long as we weren't going to make it an all afternoon visit there, ya know.

I took my camera with me with the full intention of getting several pictures of other family members there but ended up only getting one picture there today and that one, I had the candidate's mother take this snapshot of me, my son and the candidate all together! (Imagine that! This makes two posts in a row where I'm willing to show a picture of myself in it!)

And there you go -the three of us together! My son, Clate on the left, Paul "Pj" Monella Jr (the candidate) in the center and me!  I'm sure you can see by the picture now why I'm so excited and so proud of Pj and his campaign for county office! But let me tell you this about that young man -he's one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people I've ever known/seen who is running for a political office! And I don't say that lightly or just because he's my cousin but rather because he is what I said there -one smart cookie!

This young fella has been interested -and I DO MEAN very interested, in politics for at least the past 10 years now! He follows the news, reports, reads all kinds of stuff about virtually every issue facing us on all levels -local, state and national -and he has an excellent understanding of those issues too!

A neighbor of mine here asked me back in the spring, shortly before our primary elections, when Pj was campaigning then just to get on the ballot in the November elections if I thought he really had a chance in the elections because of his age. Yes, he is a youngster in the policial world, for sure, as he just turned 18 back in January, just graduated from High School in June and just began his first semester in August at Penn State University too but as I told my neighbor then, if the people Pj talks to while campaigning will forget about his youthfulness and just listen to what he has to say, hear that he is not just some kid with some crazy notion but someone who does have a good solid understanding of the work that needs to be done here in our county -for openers -through the commisioners office, they will see that this young man has a good solid understanding and loads of energy and ability to back that which would make him an excellent choice for this position!

And not just that, but he's just a very nice, polite, extremely smart but also, extremely empathetic and VERY VERY nice young man! The kid of person you'd be pleased to have living on your street kind of person ya know!

In my Dad's family -which is the side through which I am related to Pj -we joke that maybe the political blood that my Dad's one brother had has finally come through again and this time, it's with Pj! You see, my late Uncle Arch -whose daughter is the cousin who came here this weekend from Texas -was very active in county politics when I was growing up and back in the 50s, Uncle Arch served a couple of terms then as one of our County Commissioners. Win, lose or draw though, I'd be willing to bet that somewhere, wherever Uncle Arch's spirit is today, that he's sitting there, looking down at Pj with loads and loads of pride and giving this young man a great big :Thumbs UP" and any other job-well-done kind of signal you can give!

What made me feel especially good too was after my son and I left the picnic, he thanked me for talking him into going to that fund raiser for Pj today! We both came away from there feeling very proud to claim Pj as our cousin and also, to support him in his quest for this office in the election in November!

You go, Pj! Cause your family believes you have every bit of knowledge, interest, ability and energy to fulfill the duties of that particular post! Definitely a breath of really fresh air! (And don't we all need that and then some today on our political scene?)

Now, Saturday morning, I got a phone call from my cousin -the Texas visitor -asking me if I'd read the e-mail she'd sent me. As it turned out at the time, I hadn't seen the e-mail from her then but went to my e-mail, opened it and read it! She was telling me about how last night at the informal gathering of her classmates, she's spent a good deal of time chatting there with a guy from her class but who had attended the same school branch as I had and she knew that he (Pete) and I had been good friends in school and for many years that has passed since then too. And they decided that I should come to their class reunion dinner then this evening and that I could do that, if I wanted to attend, as Pete's guest since his wife hadn't come up from Virginia with him!

Now that idea was definitely very enticing to me, for sure as I know many of the kids from that class, of course, and yes, I love events like that too! But first, I had to check to make sure Mandy didn't have something going on tonight that would mean I'd have to stay home and watch the grandkids. So I phoned her at work, told her what Ruth and Pete had offered and Mandy said "No Problem! You go to that, Mom, and you have a great time there too!"

And so, that's how it all came about that tonight I was in Clearfield at the St. Charles Cafe, in the company of 60 some folks, many whom I hadn't seen for over 50 years now too! And yes, indeed, I did have a really great time, talking to so many old friends, seeing so many very familiar faces and lots of others who I had to cheat and look at their name tags to see who it really was behind that somewhat familiar looking face before me!

My old friend, Pete -my escort for the evening -and I were good friends in school but after we graduated and had been out of school for 2-3 years, we found ourselves each living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He was about due to get discharged from the Army and I was working then at the National Rifle Association in D.C. when he and another former classmate of his, Eddy, who was also just getting out of the service, got an apartment together in Alexandria, Virginia and I was living in a suburb southeast of D.C , in Prince George's county, and thus, we renewed our old school friendship back then. Pete and Eddy became regular visitors at the apartment my roommates and I shared! Parties -sure, there were lots of those, along with many times the guys would come over and my roomies and I would cook dinners for all of us! Pete and my first roommates and I all went together to Ocean City, MD late one Saturday night the end of May in 1964 where the six of us (yes, six people in an old Chevy Impala that Pete had at that time) squished into that car, arriving at the ocean about 7 a.m. and all six of us being totally new to the ocean and salt water and the wind that is also present on a really hot, very sunny day, in which we all stayed out in the sun from just past 7 a.m. until about 2:30 p.m. that day when we decided perhaps we'd best think about starting our return drive to our apartments in Virginia and Maryland! Roughly 7 hours straight in that hot sun, with salt water breezes giving us a bit of a wind-burn on top of major sunburns created havoc for the six of us trying to find ways to sit in that car on a three hour drive back home that afternoon and evening!  That sunburn also gave me a really nasty case of sun poisoning then too causing me to go to work the next day but being sent home -actually I was driven home by one of my co-workers in my supervisor's car - and under orders to go see a doctor, who then gave me orders that I could not return to work for at least 2-3 days to give the sunburn a bit of a chance to begin to heal!

It was a pretty painful event but, on the upside, it was probably the first -actually the only -time that I ever had a darned good suntan on my legs though!

Another time, as a joke, when Pete's fiance was down there from PA for a weekend visit with him, she and Pete, along with Eddy and my roommates and I, got a really bright idea for a practical joke to play on some of our mutual friends. We went to the store -drug store, that would be -and purchased some Plaster of Paris and a few other items we figured we would need -gauze bandage stuff and the like -and then, we spent that Saturday afternoon crafting a cast on the leg of one of my roommates! Yep! Molded that baby, nice as can be around her foot and up to her knee and it looked pretty much too like it had been done by some orthopedic doctor somewhere -albeit it on closer inspection maybe a doctor that was oh, shall we say, just a tad inebriated too though! Anyway -cast made, we then set out to call a friend of ours who was at that time a student at the University of Maryland to invite him over to a party we were hosting that night at our apartment. It just so happened that one of my roommates sort of had a bit of a crush on that particular guy too and was slightly miffed at him at the time too because I think he'd stood her up a day or two earlier so he was the person we actually had in mind to prank with this fake cast. That night, Jack -the Terrapin student -showed up and there was the roomie, sitting there with this nifty cast on her leg and he was shocked to see that! I don't remember now exactly what song and dance we gave him about how she had broken her leg or foot or whatever it was we were saying there but we laid it out as a major guilt trip to him, that somehow it was all his fault that she had managed to injure herself, ya see. So there's Jack, feeling all sorry for my roomie and trying to be extra nice to her and out of the blue, Eddy comes up to my roomie and asks her to come dance with him -and it was a nice, really fast rock and roll song that was playing too. So the roommate jumps up and yes, starts dancing away in the middle of our apartment while Jack is sitting there in a state of shock, yelling at her that she shouldn't be doing that with that cast on, that she was going to re-injure her leg and well, for a short period of time, we were really a bit worried that Jack was going to go into cardiac arrest the way he was worrying and yelling at my roomie to please sit down, to stop dancing before she broke another bone and on and on. But when she did sit down and said to him, "This damned cast is just plain getting in my way so I think I'll just take it off" and then, nice as can be she started to pull the cast away from her leg, the look on that guy's face then was well, it was just plain priceless!

Just one of the many silly, but loads of fun at the time, things we did back in the good old days!

Ah, the memories!

And trust me, tonight -seeing Pete -and also Eddy again -after so many years -just brought those times, those days, those fun, games and laughter-filled events flooding back to me!

Because Pete and Eddy were both from up this way, and because eventually they had girlfriends who were from "back home" they generally drove back and forth to PA at least once or twice a month and I knew, if I needed a way up to PA for a weekend, I could usually hitch a ride up and back to D.C. with them -or else, with two other guys also from up in the old home town area too who lived and worked then in D.C. too! So they were my chauffeurs back in those good old days! My Mom knew all four of those guys who became my "drivers" back then and she knew their families too -where they came from ya know. One of the other guys I often rode home with was a guy who had graduated with me from high school and my Mom regarded him as being virtually ready for sainthood! She thought the sun absolutely rose and set on him and a couple of years later, when Mom moved down to D.C. with me, he and his wife then lived just around the corner from our apartment and my best friend from high school also lived in the same apartment development then too so my Mom then became their babysitter for the five years that Mom lived with me there!

John -the guy from my class, worked then for the D.C. Fire Department and eventually retired from there and moved back home to his family homestead here -about 4 miles from my place. To this day, he and his wife and I are still very good friends and you know what? John's still one hell of a great guy -good friend -the best kind of friend to have in your corner then -and now too!

We were all cut pretty much from the same kind of cloth, raised pretty much the same way, had very much the same values then and Pete, Eddy, John and I still share those same values today -about life in general and about old friends and how great it is to still have them around as we age!

Here's hoping all of you have many friends like these folks were then to me and still are today -even though time and distance has kept us apart over these many years, the feelings we shared back then were evident today as we talked and remembered the good old days!


TechnoBabe said...

You have mentioned PJ in past posts and I liked seeing the picture of you with your son and PJ. I found PJ's home page so I bookmarked it and will check in there once in awhile.
Your words about your friends and the fun you had with practical jokes and helping each other out are priceless. I am so glad for you that you could attend the class reunion dinner.

Paula said...

Those are some great memories, Jeni! I love the story of the fake cast. Too funny!

Go PJ! Hope his campaign goes well! Loved seeing the picture of you, by the way!

Jocelyn said...

You just glow when you write about family and friends--and you're lovely, so keep posting pictures of yourself. Don't be shy, love!

Dianne said...

good luck to PJ

Mike and Molly will be on next Monday, they're starting a week late :)