Monday, February 11, 2008

Stepping into God's loving arms

Things are different in big cities.

In small towns, kids finish school and see everyone around town for the rest of their lives -- classmates, teachers, the principal.

In cities, kids graduate from high school and spread out across the country, across the world even, and forget most of what they left behind. The last time I visited the Woodson campus as an alumnus was the fall of 1967, when I came back to see my friends in the marching band at the Woodson-Annandale football game.

I went back in 1980 as a sports reporter, covering a basketball game between Woodson and one of the Alexandria schools for my first newspaper job with the Alexandria Gazette.

I never went back to see the teachers I had known and liked. There weren't many, and my favorite teacher of all -- Rachel Maguire from 12th grade English -- had moved over to Oakton.

But teachers stay.

Teachers stay and teacher generations of kids, affecting their lives the same way they did those of their parents and sometimes even their grandparents. It's why movies like "Goodbye Mister Chips" move us so much.

Joan Bedinger was one of those teachers, not for me but for many others. She taught drama and directed productions at Woodson for 30 years till her retirement in 1994. The theatre at Woodson is named after her.

She died last week after the last in a series of strokes. I was kind of surprised to realize that while we were there and she was teaching, she was younger than my 27-year-old daughter is now.

The Woodson drama Web site, which has information about her and her funeral services that will be held Saturday in Fairfax, says she "stepped into the loving arms of God."

That sounds pretty nice to me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Getting together this summer up north

The lovely and vivacious Helen Roberts asked me to post this, so how could I resist?

Editor's note: She didn't ask you to post the picture.


I could have made her a blogger and told her to do it herself, but I don't have all that much to do these days other than to apply for unemployment, look for jobs and watch old movies on DVD.

Hey, it's a great life.

Anyway, Helen wanted me to announce to the entire class -- at least to the folks in the know enough to read this blog -- that the annual WTW Northwest Rendezvous will take place August 1-3 in the metropolis of La Conner, Washington.

Now what I find interesting about that is that La Conner has the same initials and the same number of letters as my home town of La Canada (pronounced Can-yada, it's a Mexican thing) and is actually within an hour or so of the real La Canada (pronounced Can-a-da, it's a French thing).

Anyway, Helen is among a group of West Coast Woodsonites, including Marna (Podonsky) and Leroy Hanneman (who actually live in La Conner), Bob and Dianne Douthitt (who live in Spokane, home of Ryne Sandberg, John Stockton and that quarterback I can't remember who won the Redskins' last Super Bowl), Rob and Loretta Gohd (of Bremerton), Greg Keever (of Los Angeles), Chris and Carol Kessler (of Seattle), Mike and Wendy McCuddin (of Port Orchard) and Anne Gibson Snyder (of that easternmost of west coast cities, Middletown, Md.), who get together in the Northwest every year or so.

Now Helen had a lot of cool stuff to say about La Conner, about the fact that it's an outdoor paradise, an art colony and that there are two girls for every boy (wait, I think that's Surf City).

She's right. It's a cool place, even though the closest I've ever been to it was Seattle in 1989 when I was covering college basketball. You can look it up on this link to the city's Web site if you doubt me, but there's really only one thing you need to know.

If you have always lived in the East, if you've never been farther west than West Virginia, you've missed out on the best part of this country. I don't mean the Northwest (I actually prefer California), but the entire West itself.

I've lived in Colorado, Nevada and Southern California, and things really are different out here. Don't forget that the bluest skies you'll ever see are in Seattle (Perry Como), that it never rains in Southern California (Albert Hammond, a lie) or that you can see it raining fire in the skies of the Rocky Mountains (John Denver).

Once you've been to La Conner, you can carry yourself back to old Virginny for the rest of the year. But don't miss it.

C'mon, how often do you have a chance to see two of the greatest legends of the class of '67 in the same place?

Editor's note: Which ones?

That's the best part. There are enough people on that list that they can be whoever you want them to be.

So in the Virginia vernacular, y'all come.

A return after a short hiatus

Hey, it's been a while.

Sorry I haven't been posting lately, or doing much else. A little of it has been shock, a little the stunning fact that I don't have anything to do.

I function better when I'm busy, and since I got fired for the first time in my life early last week, I just haven't been that busy. I've been reading a lot, watching DVDs -- hey, that first season of "Friday Night Lights" was pretty good -- and sleeping late.

I haven't checked out the Web site I was asked to check out, and I haven't read the stuff Dale sent me.

But, as my Carolina friends say, I'm fixin' to.

Let's get moving again.