Posts Tagged ‘school’

I remember writing out valentine cards to take to school. That was in the days when they didn’t say you had to take a valentine for everyone in the class. Because there were so many of us kids (7), my mom bought a package for each one of us even though we needed ore than one package if we were going to give to everyone in the class. So we had to choose. My mom would go through the list with us and ask at each name “Is this one your friend?” or “Do you want to give one to this one?” That was  difficult because I mostly wanted to send a card to everyone. I knew what it felt like to sit at your desk and wonder if you would get any cards. There were some kids that didn’t get very many, like Esmeralda who no one played with because she was born with a black spot on the side of her face. I knew who those kids were so I made sure that they got one from me and I always wondered if I would get very many.

I remember  in high school, selling carnations as a fundraiser for California Scholarship Federation (CSF). The carnations were pre-ordered and pre-paid then delivered to recipients during class on Valentine’s Day. They cost one dollar. Of course all of the cheer leaders and other cheer squad girls walked around with lots of carnations that they had gotten. My sister, her friends, and me would pool our money and send them to each other to make sure we each got at least one flower on Valentine’s Day.

In college, during my sophomore year, I met the man I would marry. On a trip from Stanford to Los Angeles to meet his sister, his car was having a lot of trouble. It was leaking oil and we had to keep stopping. It took us about nine hours to get there instead of the six it should have taken. On one of the stops, in the tiny town of Atascadero, we had to get more oil so he parked the car and got out while I waited. When he came back to the car, he had the oil and before popping open the hood to put the oil in, he handed me a little bag with a chocolate covered marshmallow shaped like a heart. It was Valentine’s Day and he hadn’t mentioned it so I though he had forgotten all about it. But he hadn’t. He had bought me a candy at the auto parts store. That was the only valentine I ever got from him in fifteen years of marriage!


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I think I have written about my high school years quite a few times. For those that have missed those way past posts, here’s another.

I, like many of us, belong to a Facebook group for people that graduated from my high school in the 1970s. Yeah, I’m an old lady! I joined it about five years ago when it was set up for the purpose of getting together for a multi-year reunion, which finally happened about three years after the group was set up. Well, on Saturday evening, someone posted about the death of one of our former teachers. We had amazing teachers. With very few exceptions, our teachers were not only very well qualified and more than capable. They were excellent teachers and most of them chose to stay in our district and at our school when they had the opportunity to move to affluent areas with fancy new schools. They felt a duty to our population and we, the students, were the beneficiaries of that duty.

This time it was Sal Orlando who was an English teacher. He taught Senior English and, for many years, also taught Journalism. I was not lucky enough to have him as a teachere and I was actually disappointed about that. My siblings had told many stories about the amazing Mr. Orlando. He threw things at people that fell asleep, things like chalk board erasers and chalk. He had a reputation for being really tough on his students but also keeping things light with his jokes and sarcasm. Kids knew he really cared about them as people and as students. I didn’t take Senior English because I had taken four years of Journalism which actually gave me way more English than was required for graduation as each year counted as a year of English plus the three years of English I did take! And he would have been my Journalism teacher except that the year that I first began Journalism as a freshman, we had a new teacher who was also the newspaper advisor for the three years I was on the paper staff. So I didn’t have the privilege of having Sal Orlando as a teacher but we did have many exchanges out of the classroom, most of them teasing each other about why I wasn’t his student or he my teacher.

He was just one of the many revered teachers at that school. I’ve written about Mr. Henry and Mr. Flanagan, and Ms. Paszkeicz. I’ve written about Rudy Del Rio (who was my Journalism teacher and newspaper advisor) and about Mr. McCready.  I’ve written about Mr. Keneally and Mr. Matalone. Those are just a few of the many teachers who were giants to us; legends in their own time. And losing them is a real loss for most of us as many of us are still in touch with at least a few of these teachers. It’s also a reminder that we, their students, are getting old and are at that age where we see the names of so many of our teachers and our fellow students among the dead. Last month it was the death of Mr. Matalon. Today it was Mr. Orlando. I don’t want to know who will be on that list of fallen tomorrow.

I was fortunate to have such amazing teachers. I wish all teachers were like them and that everyone could have that experience.  Everyone should get to know their teachers like I knew mine and everyone should have that feeling that their teachers care about them as students and as people.

They were giants. They were legends.

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If we were having coffee, I might not be a very good hostess as I’ve been glued to the TV and Internet for news of hurricane Harvey which is, as I type this at 2 am on the 26th, pummeling the Texas Gulf Coast. I wish the Weather Guys were wrong. They’ve been saying that this will be the worst hurricane to hit American land in the past fifteen years. They say it is going to prove to be worse than Katrina and most of us remember how bad that was. Most of us remember how the destruction remained long after the storm died.

So grab yourself some coffee. I’m actually having decaf because I need to sleep in a bit so I can get up by seven, but if you’re game for the real thing, grab it. For a long time I resisted getting a Keurig (single cup brewer) because of the waste which was not recyclable and because it turns out to be more expensive than ground coffee. However, my daughter was gifted a new Keurig a couple of months ago and she gave me her old one. I had noticed that they now make the single cups recyclable and some can be composted. We went to Grocery Outlet (in case you don’t have those, it’s a chain that offers groceries at outlet prices and they aren’t seconds or expired, just good bargains. I found a number of different coffee choices for the Keurig that are affordable and come in recyclable cups. I only get them if the price breaks down to about forty-five cents a cup. Currently, you can choose from a medium roast grown in Kauai, some French Vanilla, salted caramel, Columbian dark roast, and a few others.

For those of you that have been following my recovery from abdominal surgery, I’m still not back to normal and it has been five weeks. The whole thing has been complicated by sciatica which has been with me for two weeks and won’t go away. It is much better than it was the first couple of days but it won’t go away. I suspect that it has a lot to do with my limited mobility and with the fact that I’m not walking as I normally do as the incision is bruised on the inside and I’m kind of limping. But it is better. I’m really tired of being sick. I can hardly wait to get to my normal state. I’m able to bend over without pain but I’m limiting the instances for another week as instructed by the doctor. So it’s better but far from good.

How many of you got to see the total solar eclipse that graced the United States last Monday? I got to see it but I was twelve miles from totality so I didn’t get to see the full thing, only about 99%. I watched from my front yard but was feeling particularly weak that day so I didn’t stay out the entire time. I just went out a few times. I want to experience totality. I really do. My niece is planning on taking her family to Argentina for the one in 2019 and has invited me. I don’t think I will be able to save the money by then but it sure would be fantastic! The next opportunity will be in 2024. I’m hoping to find a friend or family member that I can stay with in or very near the path of totality. I have lots of family in Texas (one of the reasons I’ve been glued to the reports about Harvey). And a lot of my friends, both real and virtual, live in the path so maybe someone will invite me. That would be much more doable for me.

Harvey. It hit land on Friday night. Corpus Christi was hit hard. That’s where my maternal grandmother lived all of her life. It’s where I almost moved to ten years ago. When my grandma died in 2007, my two uncles and my mom sold her house and split the money three ways. At that time, I had the cash minus about three thousand dollars. I was also looking for a place to move to as California had gotten way too expensive for me. I liked the idea of Corpus Christi because of family ties and because it’s right on the coast and I love being near the water (not in it, I don’t swim). And I loved the idea of owning my own home. However, three things kept me from doing it. First and foremost was the fear of being in a hurricane. I wouldn’t know how to prepare the house or myself for an approaching storm and I didn’t know anyone near there. Then there was the part about being far from my kids but I knew that could be remedied by air travel. The last obstacle was that I didn’t want anyone (the cousins) to think that I was trying to get the house for less than someone else would pay for it. I knew that my uncles and my mom would have agreed to let me have the house and pay them the remaining three thousand dollars within a year or two but I didn’t want anyone to say I was trying to get it for less. All in all, I guess it was a good decision not to move there but I often think what it would have been like if I had moved there.

I worry about the cousins and an elderly uncle that are all in the impacted area, namely Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and other small cities in the area. I also worry about my friends, many of whom I consider family even though I’ve never met them in person. I hope and pray that they will all come through this hurricane safely. I’ve lost too many people and I don’t want to lose anyone else.

I’ve been reading but not as much as I had been reading. I think it’s because I haven’t found anything I really want to read right now. I have a lot of books on my Kindle (like over two thousand) so I will read something from those titles. There are some newer books I would like to read but there’s no money for them right now. I have a couple of books on hold through the library as I recently discovered how I can borrow digital copies of books! Hopefully one of my holds will be available in the next couple of days. What are YOU reading?

Well, I had better get going. I have to get to sleep and then get up in less than five hours. My daughter and I are taking the boys to get a backpack with school supplies which is being gifted to low income kids by our Gleaners group. This year there’s no money for school supplies or for a backpack for Spencer (Anderson doesn’t need one) so it’s a good thing we have this giveaway available to us, even though we have to be there early and will, most likely, end up waiting in a long line. Whatever they get will be much appreciated by the boys and by their grownups. I usually have a lot of school supplies because I buy when they go on sale and clearance but I haven’t bought any in a couple of years and we’ve gone through most everything.

Oh! I forgot. On Sunday I get to see my grandson, Mati, who lives in Seattle. They are up here for a rafting trip and are going to meet up with us on Sunday before they head back to Seattle. It will be the first time all four of my grandchildren will be together in one place. Picture time!

Anyway, I’ll call it a post and finish up by asking you to hold good thoughts and prayers for those impacted by hurricane Harvey.

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Go check it out and see what else everyone is doing. Maybe you’ll want to write your own coffee share post!

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If we were having coffee, we would be indoors. The weather is changing here. This is the third day of rain and it’s pretty cool out. I think it’s about 55 degrees. Not cold yet but I see that coming sooner than later.  I’ve also got a cough and a bit of a fever so I am guzzling liquids…tea instead of coffee. It’s kind of a “bundle up” day. So keep your distance but let’s talk!

Some of you have probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much as I usually do. This summer has been tough. I’ve been feeling like my life is spiraling out of control. I’ve been with my daughter and the boys constantly. She is pregnant and has been having a really tough time with morning sickness. We’ve spent several days at doctors appointments with her and one day in the emergency room so they could re-hydrate her with an IV treatment. She is getting a little better as time goes but is still not doing great. So I’ve been spending all my days there, not coming home until after 7. I’m pretty much exhausted by the time I get home and I end up falling asleep sitting up on the couch within ten or fifteen minutes of walking in the door. So yeah, I’m glad school is starting next week. That means a schedule to stick to.

I’ll be homeschooling the six year old again this year. It’s a different program which will let us schedule as we want. Last year’s program had us doing certain lessons each day and if we didn’t complete them, they would show up as LATE, which put pressure on us to get through them quickly. And we couldn’t move on to another lesson until all the previous lessons were completed which wasn’t always possible due to computer/website issues. So this year is not an online program. We have books and it is up to me to set up the schedule and the plan and the goals. We picked the curriculum so they are fitting to Anderson’s level. He’s super bright in Math so he is starting first grade doing second grade math, which is a lot of review for him but I think we can move through all of the first month or two of the books in a short time and then supplement with some math related content. I’m looking forward to this year of homeschooling with him.  Then Spencer will be in pre-school this year so that will be interesting and I think it will help him with language. He’s doing well since starting speech therapy but still needs to catch up. I’m optimistic that he will.

Hopefully back to school means I will get to resume a more normal blogging schedule. I feel as if I have lost touch with friends by not having time to read my friends’ blogs. I miss it. Of course, I will miss being able to take the boys to the park whenever we want to go but even that can be scheduled.

As some of you will remember, I mentioned a while back that my income would be stopping because my income was all spousal support which would stop when my ex reached 65. Well, that happened last May so I have had no income since then and am using up all of my savings. As of today, I only have enough money saved to pay rent through December so I am panicking. I need to find another source of income. I’ve taken a couple of copy editing classes and I’m comfortable that I can do that, if I can find some clients. I don’t yet know what else I can do. It needs to be something I can do from home. It makes me feel a bit distracted as I try to keep going while I try to come up with a source of income. Of course, if I am not able to come up with a way, I will have to sell my mobile home and that could take some time…time that I will have to keep paying the monthly rent. So things are closing in on me. Wish me luck!

In any case, what are you up to? Has the weather changed where you are? Are you effected by the academic year beginning? How so? Any last summer plans? Tell me!


#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Go on over and take a look!


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I’ve had a couple of emotional days this week. It was the anniversary of my dad’s death, first one. And the day after it was my brother’s birthday which is always tougher for me than the anniversary of his death. So lots of emotions all bundled up with Mother’s Day.

You might recall that my cell phone died back in February and I resuscitated a very old Samsung Galaxy (3). That’s what I’ve been using. We finally figured out what we were doing carrier-wise so my daughter signed us up for new service and phones. I picked the cheapest phone, which after rebate, would be an out and out purchase price of $42. Not bad. But today I have been trying to set it up and it has been very frustrating because, although it’s nice, half of the storage space on the device is taken up by system files and carrier bloatware. So with only a fraction of my apps loaded on it, I only had less than a GB left, even after moving everything possible to the memory card. So that is not going to work, especially since this phone has to last me as long as maybe five years! So Thursday I have to go back in with my daughter to get it switched for the phone I really wanted but can’t afford. My daughter offered to get it for me! It’s a lot for her to pay so I will try to pay her at least for some of it but I am really excited about it! Yay. Let’s see if it happens, you know how things always get in the way of what you want. We’ll see. New toy! New toy!

Anderson and I are breezing through home schooling. This week I had him come to my house and we brought all his books. So with no interruptions, we are getting through four hours of course work in about an hour and a half to two hours…with a lengthy break included. Today we finished the last Math lesson for the year so I am going to have him play some logic games and do some computation sheets and money. I think Monday we will finish the P.E. course and the Science. Yay. That leaves some enrichment time and maybe some subject appropriate field trips. The end is in sight. Next year we are doing a different online academy that is run by a local school so it looks like it’s better. More contact with the academy staff and more personalized material and lessons.   Yay! Yay!

I think that’s about it here. At least for now.


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Today, May 3, is Teacher Appreciation Day in the United States.

Do you remember a special teacher in your life? I was lucky enough to have many excellent teachers. I’ve written about some of them, mostly high school teachers. I think they helped me to realize that I wanted to be a teacher.

In middle school I had Mr. Clark for Math in 7th grade. He was a weathered teacher who retired when I was in 8th grade. He had seen everything in the way of teaching and students. He wasn’t one to insist that we be silent in class but he had a military background so he commanded respect without having to threaten or admonish. He appreciated a good joke, even when others told the joke. He had a hearty, infectious laugh. And best of all, he made sure that everyone “got it” whether they were boys or girls. That used to be rare. Most math teachers taught to the boys, not the girls, in my day. Mr. Clark treated us all equally.

He was one of many special teachers; one that I had all but forgotten until I tried to think of a good, memorable teacher in middle school and his name jumped up. I was ony going to mention him but I ended up telling you more about him than I thought I remembered.

I’ll probably highlight a couple more of my special teachers throughout the week. Tell me about YOUR special and favorite teachers.

To all the teachers and former teachers out there, thank you for teaching. It’s one of the most important jobs.

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Home School

Tina has often spoken of wanting me to home school Anderson. In fact, she has done so since he was born. When it was time for kindergarten last year, she kept saying I would do the home schooling, which was fine by me. I even started getting some of the curriculum I would need. Then the next think I heard, she had signed him up for kindergarten at the local elementary. That was fine but it surprised me.

When Anderson started kindergarten he loved school. His is an early start school, beginning at 7:45 AM. It is also the first year of all day kindergarten. He begins at 7:45 and is dismissed at 2 PM. I’ve been in his classroom many times. I volunteer weekly. His classroom looks a lot more like a second grade than a kindergarten. They have no time for art projects so when I go to volunteer, that’s one of the things I do…I pull out two or three kids at a time and do the designated art project with them.

Now let me tell you where the problem gets going. His mom and dad are both night owls. They stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning. They sleep in until 11 or 12. Now when the alarm goes off at 7 to get Anderson up for school, they can’t get up. And because they’ve not been good about a regular bedtime for him, he began to have a lot of trouble getting up at 7. He started to make excuses for going to school. And his parents jumped on those excuses and often did not take him. After the holidays it got so bad that I would drive him one or two days a week and then one other day a parent would take him. The rest of the time, he stayed home.

So she talked about pulling him out and home schooling him. I said that was a good idea but I encouraged them to leave him in school for the remainder of the school year (less than three months). Then I found out that instead of having me home school him, she had enrolled him in an online learning academy that is part of a charter school. They sent him a computer and monitor and all of the text books, manipulatives, and supplies needed. He began this week. But they don’t know how to do the lessons. Although it is an online academy with a teacher, they have to be his “learning coaches”. They were lost in the books and the lesson sequencing. So he did no lessons until today, Wednesday, when I went over and sat with him and did the lessons with him. I was there from 10:30 until 3:30. Tonight I spent about an hour and a half going over all of the lessons scheduled for tomorrow to make sure I know what we’re doing so it goes smoothly and quickly.

So I guess I have a new unpaid job…all day…I get to work with Anderson for school stuff! If I had it my way, they would move everything to my house so he could do it here with me here. That way I could do my own stuff while he works because there are times when he is working on his own for ten to fifteen minutes. That’s long enough for me to wash dishes or write a blog post or…?  We’ll see how this goes and how long it will be before they throw in the towel and take him back to school!

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I was going to blog about the Challenger explosion on its anniversary but instead, I will blog about something positive.

I came across a news story today. I don’t usually watch TV news because I don’t subscribe to cable or satellite. Instead, I bought one of those “military grade” antennas that is supposed to catch the digital signal and allow you to watch TV. I don’t life near enough to the TV stations telecast stations so I don’t usually get a good signal so I’ve pretty much given up on it. Lately, though, I found that if I tune it in early, I can catch the 4 pm news broadcast before I lose the signal. So when I think of it, I do that.

Today, I watched a story about a high school student who has recently gone through a bone marrow transplant and cannot physically attend school. She was adamant that she was going to graduate on time and keep in touch with her friends. She did not want to miss a moment of school. Her counselor approached the school district with Jaden’s story. The school district responded by investing in a Double Robotics system. This system is a Segway paired with an iPad. Jaden controls it from home, like one would control a video game. It allows her to move from class to class with her school mates, participate in class lessons and discussions, and even have lunch with her friends. It’s an amazing story. The unit cost the school district $3000 which is really an investment as it can be used by another student or even by a staff member, who cannot physically be in attendance. It can be used over and over again by multiple students and staff.

The story brought tears to my eyes. I encourage you to watch the news report that I watched to get a fuller sense of what an amazing piece of technology this is. I think every school district should have this as an option. For the relatively low price, it would bring such happiness and sense of accomplishment to so many. I really think all school districts should have at least one unit available. By the way, this story is so local that it happens to be the same school district that my grandson attends.


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I am reading a collection of essays that document the teaching career of Luther Siler. It’s called Searching For Malumba. I’ve been reading it for a while because I’ve been using it as kind of an essay a day type of thing and not reading a lot in it. Now that I have finished two books for my reading challenges and it’s not the end of January yet, I am reading a bit more per day in it. It is excellent.

Today I read the essay on Substitute Teachers. It reminded me of my first substitute teaching job…the very first time I walked in to a school office and presented myself as the sub. That’s what I’m going to tell you about today but first, I want to make sure that you know that I don’t disagree with what Luther wrote in his essay. He is spot on. Even that one sub he writes about is someone that I’ve seen while subbing or while I was a classroom teacher and had to request subs. I hope you give Luther’s book a try.

I applied to be a substitute teacher mid year because I needed to supplement my income and because I planned to take some tests to become a classroom teacher and I wanted to sort of “check it out” before committing to more classwork to get my certification. I was in California. At that time, the background check before being allowed to be near kids, included a finger print check that was run by local police, state law enforcement, and federal law enforcement. While the first two didn’t take too long, the federal check took about eight weeks. One morning, around 5:30, I got a call from the Sub Desk asking me to sub at the middle school that morning. I told her that I had not yet been cleared. She said she was aware of it but that they were desperate for subs and I had already been cleared by local and state. (I was also well known in the district because of my then eleven years of volunteering in schools.) So I jumped out of bed and got dressed. I got my kids off to neighbors who would deliver them at their respective schools and I went off to the middle school, which was the same middle school one of my kids attended, and presented myself to the secretary as the assigned sub for Ms. WhatEverHerNameWas. I was given the key to the room and sent off with no lesson plan. Apparently, it was an unplanned absence and there weren’t any plans. The secretary said there was supposed to be a lesson plan book inside the class in the teacher’s desk so just look for it.

It was a seventh grade special ed class. There was no lesson plan book anywhere in the room and the ed assistant would not be there until the second hour of the two hour class period. So I was on my own with fifteen boys varying in degrees of special needs. I had taken a few things with me in my Sub Bag that I could do with them. My Sub Bag had worksheets, tangrams, books, and other sorts of things that would entertain and be educational, should I need them. That day I definitely needed them.

I asked the boys what they had been working on. No one could tell me. Finally I got one boy to tell me, only because he was my neighbor and knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t cooperate. So we opened the history book and began to do some reading and questions/answers because there was nothing else to go on. The boys began to misbehave, one at a time. I would get one settled and another would begin and as soon as I got that one settled, another would start up. Then, I just did what I had to. I started to call each one by name and remind them that I knew their mothers and fathers and if they didn’t cooperate I was going to tell their Mommas! That worked! It worked enough to the point that only one of the fifteen was acting up by the time the ed assistant came in. That’s when I found out that they were supposed to be taking a standardized test that morning. She couldn’t find the lesson plans either but she did know where the tests were so we quickly started those because we would have just about enough time to take them if we started right away. In the end, the bell rang and we still had about one minute to go on the test so we kept the boys working an extra minute before releasing them.

The rest of the day was fine with the ed assistant there to show me what the other classes were really working on. The other classes were not special ed. I made it through the day and lived to tell the tale. At the end of the day, I headed for Starbucks and bought a $5 gift card for the ed assistant. Not much but a small token of my appreciation because without her, I would not have gotten through that first day.

Note: The teacher, I later found out, had called in for a mental health day because she was at the end of her rope with school and with some family issues.  She had not left a lesson plan, she had her plan book with her at home which she remedied by dropping it off the net day. She was gone for two weeks. I didn’t have to sub for her again because they had enough regular subs and special ed classes usually had special ed subs. Thank goodness for ed assistants!

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46 Years

I was sitting in my eighth grade English class, first row, third seat back. The intercom rang and Mr. Grayson picked it up with his usual cheery voice. It was a very short conversation and when he ended the call, his eyes were wet. As he walked to the front of the room, he took out his handkerchief, took his wire rim glasses off, wiped away the tears, blew his nose and tried to go on with class. He struggled for the next ten minutes, losing his place in the lesson, mid-sentence. Finally, he gave up and told us he was giving us the rest of the period for free time and asked us to keep quiet and to ourselves. We asked what was wrong. He told us that the call had been bad news. A former student who was now a sophomore at the high school across the street had collapsed in gym class and had died. The student had been a favorite of his, that’s why the Office staff had called him.

This was really scary to me. Tenth grade. Two years older than me. My sister was at that high school across the street. Could something happen to her? Why had the boy died? It didn’t make sense. I tried to read my book but I couldn’t concentrate.

Today, forty-six years later, his sister posted on Facebook and talked about how much she missed her brother and how she regretted not knowing him in his adult years. His sister is now my friend. I became friends with her when I got to the high school later the same year that her brother died.

He wasn’t my brother but I have thought of him often and of his death, which was later discovered to have been caused by an aortic aneurysm. I think that’s what it’s called. I’ve often wondered how that could have gone undetected during his annual physical for the athletic program (he was a basketball player for the high school). It did happen and it impacted so many people, not just his family. I’m sure we all thought about him often over the years.

Forty-six years.



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