Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Friday, December 09, 2005

Who Are These People?

A wee bit of yearbook archaelogy ....

The chance sighting of someone from college at a location approximately 750 miles from the scene of the alleged crime, er ... education sent me hurtling thirty five years into the past, where, my ears filled with a couple of weeks of nonstop sixties music, I began to remember my one regret from that time period -- that I didn't see more concerts at the Fillmore East. That regret led me to program CDs of recordings made at the Fillmore, a place that still haunts me (and anyone else who has ever been there) to this day. I did see lots of Grateful Dead appearances there but looking through Amalie R. Rothschild's Live at the Fillmore East made me wish I had spent a lot more time there. Listening to the music and paging through the book healed that wound. A little.

When I moved three years ago my college yearbooks surfaced again. I was now looking through them for the first time in thirty five years. The recognition rate was so low I could have been looking at mugshots. Who were these people?

The shifting sands of time have obscured most of my college memories and it was probably only natural that it would take a little time to reclaim them. By the time I had worked my way through all four yearbooks the mists began to clear a little and some of the people began to look vaguely familiar.

Ironically, the one person I remember most vividly was not to be found anywhere. He was singlehandedly responsible for searing that first day of college into my memory and I can visualize it as if it were yesterday. The dorm was empty as I began hauling my stuff from the car to my room. Filling the quiet was the unmistakable sound of the Temptations, a sound that grew louder as I neared my room. The music was coming from the room next to mine and the sound was so vivid and insistent that the Temptations could have actually been in there. When I finally finished unloading I went next door to meet my new neighbor. Even when I entered the room he didn't acknowledge me as he was busy dancing around and lip-synching to "My Girl." This was a scene that would be repeated over and over again virtually all day every day. If Eddie Kendricks ever took sick, this guy could fill in for him. Well, maybe with a little stretching of the imagination since "Bo" was a white guy from Pittsburgh, quite a bit shorter in stature than his idol. Sadly I no longer can recall Bo's last name because he was too cool to get his yearbook picture taken (I skipped my freshman photo too at his urging). He was also too cool to go to class or to say goodbye when he disappeared suddenly one night, never to return. It was a loss felt by everybody but especially by me. I had attained a coveted spot in his inner circle by virtue of my pilgrimages to the Apollo Theatre on trips home. I'm now thinking I'll contact all the other people I know from freshman year to see if any of them remember Bo. This was my only course in Idol Worship and surprisingly after forty years I'm still enrolled.

Thanks to the internet, finding people these days (even after thirty-five years) is easy (maybe too easy). Finding me is a snap since there isn't anybody else in the country with my last name. How hard can it be to find a guy named Warren Kooi? In ZabaSearch I find that there is still a Kooi in Pitman, N.J. and I figure it's Warren's father. Warren though is not listed so I assume he's no longer in New Jersey. I put his name into Dogpile and a few minutes later I'm on a Pittsburgh area high school website and there he is. Warren is a biology teacher and from his picture he doesn't appear to have changed much, except his hair looks as white as the driven snow. After four daughters and thousands of students it's probably a miracle he still has hair.

Next I want to find another interesting guy -- Paul Spector. Paul's residence changed from Boston to Hawaii between sophomore and junior year and then back to Boston again for senior year. We never exactly figured that out. I'm not sure where he'll turn up today. His name is a little too common though and I get too many hits on it. Paul is best remembered for opening letters from home, extracting the checks, and discarding the letters unread. Sometimes out the window. Naturally we really thought that was cool at the time.

Next I want to find Herbie Hancock (not the jazz musician) who still reminds me somehow of Arlo Guthrie. Maybe if I put on some Arlo Guthrie it'll help me in my search which is fruitless so far because his name is a little too common as well.

After spending about eight hours going through my four yearbooks my memory is starting to improve a bit and I've got a list of about 100 or so names and there's no telling how much time I'll expend trying to run these people to ground. It's a lot of fun though and highly recommended. Maybe I'll even go to visit Guido Boggio (real easy to find) from Hasbrouck Heights, who, like myself, is still pretty much within walking distance of home. Somehow I've got a feeling I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time on this and maybe I'll have more to report at a later date.


Blogger Bill said...

Great post, Andy. I hope you find everybody and stage a big reunion.

5:02 AM  
Blogger Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Good luck, Andy. I've Googled a bunch of names from my past and come up with almost nothing. I hope you have better success.

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Meyerson said...

After spending about eight hours going through my four yearbooks my memory is starting to improve a bit and I've got a list of about 100 or so names and there's no telling how much time I'll expend trying to run these people to ground.

Good idea, Andy. I mean, you were looking for something to fill all those empty hours, right?

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Warren Kooi said...

I've never read or written a blog, but my oldest daughter, a civil engineer in Denver, must have Googled my name and forwarded your link to me. You are also on a short list of people I remember from college and still wonder about. I will never forget walking from Times Square through the Bowrey to the Fillmore East on New Years Eve. I think we couldn't get in and walked back again. My first experience in NYC. Hope you can find some other friends.

4:19 PM  

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