By Paul W. Barada Rushville Republican
---- — A few weeks ago I wrote about our upcoming class reunion and its rather historic significance, at least to the people who were in the Class of 1963. Well, we’ve had our reunion and, as the old Society Page contributors used to write, “…and a good time was had by all.” One or two of us appeared to have a better time than others, however.
This week I’m going to share with you some stories that were exchanged by members of our class for the sake of posterity, if not for the general interest of those who read this column. The first is about one of the truly outstanding members of our class, Dan Shermer. He was quarterback on the football team, a star on the basketball team, played first-chair clarinet in the band, was valedictorian of our class, and won a scholarship to play basketball at DePauw University. He and his high school sweetheart, Beth Ritter, have been married for close to fifty years now. He’s been a math teacher at Brownsburg High School for a long time. But when we were in high school and he was the quarterback on the football team. Rushville had the ball, Shermer had called the play and the Lions were at the line of scrimmage ready to go. The opponent hadn’t broken their defensive huddle yet and Coach Bill Gray – who, by the way, came to our reunion – was shouting to Shermer, “Snap the ball! Snap the ball!” We had a rare chance to get a jump on the other team! Shermer stood up from center and called back, “But, coach, they’re not ready yet!” He will never live that one down!
Kenny Todd, who is better known in Monroe County as “Judge” Todd, where he has been the Circuit Court Judge for years, played trumpet in the high school band under the direction of Bob McGinnis. This was back in the days when we had about 100 members in the band. During a basketball game, Kenny was showing me his new “Twistaflex” watch. “Look at this,” he said proudly, “You can twist this Twistaflex watchband in any direction,” which he proceeded to do when, “ping,” it broke. He was crushed and I nearly feel off my chair laughing. Apparently, there was at least one direction in which it couldn’t be twisted.
You’ve read about Jim Marshall and the plaque in the library, but you haven’t heard about the time a bunch of us were driving my grandfather’s car around town one evening, before we were sixteen, I might add. Jim wanted a turn at driving. Somebody asked him if he’d ever driven before. “Sure, I have,” he said. Well, after a couple minutes of swerving all over the road, it was clear that he had never driven before. It took us a while to get him to stop because he was having such a good time, while the rest of us were scared to death. Dan Earnest, I think, shouted from the back seat, “Marshall, stop the car before you kill all of us!”
On another illegal driving experience, we were out for a winter’s drive in Rick Levi’s grandfather’s car. The streets were slick and we had no business driving. We were stopped in the alley intersection between fourth and fifth streets west of Perkins. Dave Shouse was coming down the alley from Fifth Street and couldn’t stop on the ice – he wasn’t going very fast, thankfully. Rick tried to get out of the way, but his wheels just spun on the icy pavement. All he could do was sit there and watch as Dave’s car closed in. It was almost like it was in slow motion. Rick just sat there in the car “borrowed” from his grandfather, mouth open, waiting for the impact. Bam! Dave dented in the right-side door of the Chevy we were in and Rick just sort of sank down in the seat! It obviously wasn’t funny to Rick at the time, but what made the rest of us howl was his reaction! I still wonder what happened to that classic Chevy.
Another story that involves Rick Levi was the demolition of the Endicott Building. Our habit, before going home after school, was to ride around for a while. We were all sixteen by that time, incidentally. In the area around the old White Felt Company there stood a water tower that was being torn down. Well, we decided to call that water tower the Endicott Building – for no good reason, except to be silly.
For reasons I don’t recall, Rick wasn’t with us the first few afternoons that we drove down Spencer Street to watch workmen demolish the water tower aka “The Endicott Building.” Every day at school Earnest and I, in particular, would talk about how exciting it was to watch these guys tearing down the old Endicott Building. Rick thought he knew the town pretty well and he couldn’t figure out where “The Endicott Building” was. We told him how much he was missing, how dangerous the work was, and about the overall drama of the demolition. He got so frustrated with us that one day he finally said, “All right, you guys, where’s the darn Endicott Building and why can’t I go with you to watch?” So, we took him with us. Down Spencer Street we drove to the demolition site. As workmen were throwing down sheets of metal from the water tower, Levi said, “That’s not a building! That’s just a water tower.” We told him he was mistaken and that the water tower was really the Endicott Building. To this day, he occasionally brings up the fact that he didn’t get to see the old Endicott Building being torn down.
There are plenty of other stories that could be told, but probably don’t fit the old slogan of “fit to print.” Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful time at our reunion. Counting spouses, there were 70 people there. “And a good time was had by all…”
That’s -30- for this week.