New year, new beginnings. I love "new" starts. I'm a sucker for the Scrooge rehabilitation and my heart is warmed by his birth as a new person. Kenzie graduated on December 12th and that, too, represents a new start of sorts. By the way, my thanks to those of you who provided the BFE Bump and sent her a card. I know who you are and thanks.
Today on Flashback, and in honor of new starts and new graduations, I present an old start from an old graduation. Following our graduation from Iowa Wesleyan College, the Wombie and I sat down for a festive family meal at the Iris Restaurant and Lounge. The usual suspects were rounded up and joined us on the last day we were in Mt. P. as students.
The Iris was the place in town for a great formal get-together, cocktails and meal. Today, the building is shuttered. Weeds grow in cracks in the parking lot. A sad victim of the economic turndown in 2009, the Iris hosted the family in the 7 years the Blythe boys attended IWC. The last time I was there was in 2003 when Dr. Kolbow and I terrorized the town one last time. That was a homecoming where we just happened to run into each other in a serendipitous full day that also included the West Side tap, a football game where I won the Phi Delt raffle, and a tour of the fraternity before its folding a couple years ago.
From left to right: Herb, Marj, Uncle Ed, Aunt Gladys (hidden), grandmother Orpha and me.
Next picture includes brother Phil and his wife, Jeanne over on the left. I'm thinking the Wombie must be taking the picture, as he would be seated to my left and next to Jeanne.
Now some things about this day.
Somewhere in the coatroom lying on the floor is the totally inebriated Tom Ross-Barnett, my buddy who also graduated today. he was going to go back to his foster parents, the David Stanley family of Muscatine, of Stanley Consultants fame. He was originally from Liberia and was picked by a traveling missionary from England to receive medical help in the UK for his polio. The Stanley's sponsored him at IWC. On this day, awaiting the meal and Herb's generosity in plying the alcohol from the ceremony to the meal, and overcome by the euphoria of graduation, Tom had a wee too much of the drink and passed out. It takes practise to consume alcohol and it looks like Mark and I were still fresh.
Herb, seated at the other end of the table was released from the financial support of seven years from putting three boys through college. College was cheaper back in those days, but IWC was a private out-of-state affair and had to have been costly.
Orpha in the above picture seems to be smiling. If so, it was a rare occurrence.
Meanwhile. not smiling, or even acknowledging that photographs were being taken is Uncle Ed, stoic, humorless, emotionless. And not the least bit like the guy as he was really was. Perhaps he was worried that with a diploma I'd be hitting him up for a raise.
Like most, college was a special time - it exposed me to new people, new areas of curiosity and propelled me into the world. Bro Phil was instrumental in my success - if he hadn't kicked my ass halfway through the first semester I might well have flunked out. College also exposed me to poker playing, endless kegs of beer and, if so desired, no clocks. His late night drive with around the country of Mt. P helped put my head on straight and onto graduation with honors.
Bro Mark provided that constant grounding: twins know to what I refer. The parents provided their own mix of home in which to escape and the financial support I'm not sure I ever thanked them enough for. Those pictures above capture mere seconds of an evolution. It was the end of the college bubble, the start of a new way of viewing the world. It was the fork int he road, and the jumping off place. All cliches for boyhood into manhood are etched in the faces of those attending that supper. The knowing looks, the sympathy and hope - they are there, too. Okay, Boys, we've done our part - the rest is up to you.