Friday, February 10, 2017


Sometimes something… a smell, or a picture, or a song… floods your soul with memories. 

A couple of years ago, an old friend from high school found me and reconnected. 

In my senior year of high school, I was chosen to be in the Alabama All-state Orchestra. What an honor! Because I was in the Birmingham Symphony Youth Orchestra, I was a candidate. I was THRILLED! I was first chair in my high school orchestra, and kinda full of myself.  In the Youth Orchestra I was second chair, but I knew I was better than that. Well, in the Allstate Orchestra, I was still second chair – to first chair Fleetwood McAllister.  Seriously. That was his name. His dad taught music at the University of Alabama, so I figured it was political.

The first viola was Charlie. His dad also taught at the University, and he was totally ADORABLE!

  It’s not a great picture, but good enough for you to get the idea.

Anyway, Charlie was my first mature crush. My first real “puppy love”.  Besides being an accomplished musician, he was handsome, smart, kind, funny, fun, and a gentleman. Opened doors, called my mother "Mrs. Galloway", and held my chair at restaurants. He held my hand, back when handholding was intimate. Although he lived in Tuscaloosa, before I20/59, he drove all the way to Birmingham to take me out to eat, to movies, and to Vulcan, back in the day before an elevator, where we climbed to the top, looked out over the Magic City, and where he kissed me – gently and timidly. Our first kiss. At the gift shop that day, he bought me a necklace, that I wore for many years.

I came from a firmly middle class family. My dad was a scientist and my mother a teacher. Charlie was way out of my league. But I was a teenager, and oblivious to those limitations.  I did the normal things any teenage girl did back in the day. I wrote in my diary. I wrote our initials in crossmarks inside hearts. I wrote my first name with his last name. I hugged my pillow at night, and I dreamed. That’s what girls did back then.

I graduated high school and went to college. He gradually stopped coming to Birmingham so often, and I filled my days with bridge games in the Student Union building and parties ... on yes, and some studying. We eventually lost touch.

Several years later, I happened to buy a piano from his brother, who had set up a used piano store in Birmingham. I asked about Charlie. He said, “He joined the Navy.” And that was that. End of that story.

Until 50 years later. Charlie found me. He had married. They had a couple of children, and now he is a proud grandpa. He sent pictures of his adorable grandbabies, and I was joyous with him. He crafted baby cribs, because now he no longer played the viola. He was an accomplished craftsman in woodworking. (His sister, by the way, married Fleetwood McAllister. Really.) And for 3 years we relived old times, and got re-acquainted and got to (virtually) know each other’s families. We talked on the phone. He was still the Charlie I had known all those years ago. He was gentle, kind, intelligent, talented, and loving. He bragged on his kids, and I bragged on mine. I would know his kids anywhere, just from his descriptions, and from the pictures he shared, as he would have known mine. Both of us had smart, beautiful, talented children, and we shared bragging and stories through emails and pictures. As if we were two old folks in a nursing home.

Then there was a snag… in his words:

“Just a note from a high school drop out about a life moment.

In 1964 a viola player at Alabama AlState Symphony met a cellist from Birmingham.  He was smitten.  She was a Sr in high school and he a Jr.  He really liked this young lady.   A whole lot.  Well she wouldn't want to date a high school kid next year.  As he was a terrible student and might well not graduate next year.  What's a guy to do.

 He found that if you got a GED that the U off A had to accept you like a HS grad.  So, he took the GED, applied, and got accepted.  No money, but had a job.

Well they drifted apart, both married and had two children.  They meet again on line fifty years later.  The cellist had lost her husband to brain cancer.  Now the violist has it.  His second surgery is scheduled for Thursday noon.  His faith is deep.  His spirit’s good.

Thanks to all for prayers and encouragement.”

Charlie passed away last year, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Rest in Peace, my old friend and SALUTE.  I hope we meet again someday in the hereafter. I want to kiss you one more time.  Gently and warmly.