10/16/2013 12:01:00 AM Harbor Springs...Now and Then
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh
We have been blessed with the most glorious weather for the past week. Wasn't it wonderful to be able to see all the lovely young ladies dressed up for Homecoming without fearing that they were freezing? Couple that with the spectacular colors we are experiencing and I really don't know how it could get much better. That's not true, I do; this weather could continue long enough so that all the little fairies and brides and ballerinas on Halloween could go out without having to wear long johns under their lovely clothes, but that's probably not likely.
As far as the seasons go, I personally prefer spring. When it is 50 degrees in March and April, we are ecstatic; now we are freezing at the same temperature. Besides, spring is such a hopeful time, all about new beginnings and rebirth. Fall, however much we appreciate the beauty in the majesty of the colors of the trees, the bluest of skies and the amazing harvest moon, is still a harbinger of things to come. It is far more palatable when it is presented as it has been this year; this weather could stay right up to Thanksgiving and I wouldn't complain.
Fall is also a time for reflection. Maybe it is because the year is drawing to a close, maybe it is the timing with Homecoming that makes us remember but it certainly does draw us back the way things were. I attending a memorial service last week for Marilyn White, Brian Welsh was speaking and he used a phrase that has stuck with me since then. He referred to the time the Whites lived here and raised their children as the "Golden Age" of Harbor Springs. I am certain that everyone feels that way about their youth but we can argue the point that we had our opinion acknowledged nationally; we were an All-American City. It was a perfect storm of circumstances.
I recently heard, well, actually saw because it was in print, someone else say that if she heard one more person wax nostalgic about the way it used to be here, she would be sick. I would say that I am sorry, but what I would be sorry for is for everyone that can't enjoy the same experience that those of us lucky enough to grow up here at that time shared. This isn't a criticism of what went before or what we have today, but it was, in fact, different. You couldn't watch the homecoming parade and not have that thought cross your mind.
Prior to the time that Brian referred to, there were all of the small country schools in the surrounding area, so that K-12 bonding experience wasn't there. Now there is a choice of schools, Harbor Light, Concord and Montessori to name a few, so again, you have people coming and going from classes. I think I could probably, with a little thought, tell you the names of every person who joined our class along the way and those who left. It's not that my memory is that great or that our class was that small, it was as big or bigger than most of today's classes, it is that it just didn't happen that often so you noticed it. The teachers were around long enough to teach generations; as the second youngest of eight, I can't begin to tell you how many times I was compared to my older siblings. Luckily, I was immediately after Ken, so it was easy to look pretty good. (I'll pay for that one, I'm sure.) I know there are teachers now and recently retired that have certainly put in their time, but they never seemed "old" or that they had been there forever, like some of our teachers did (I'm going to be polite and not name names, but especially some of our earlier grade school teachers come to mind.)
Diversity is a good thing but it certainly plays a huge part in the difference. We didn't have the multitude of sports to choose from. I heard people questioning last week why we don't have cheerleaders now; I would guess probably because the girls who might have been on the squad are playing volleyball or running cross country or even in the band. Our girls used to be able to be in the band and cheer, but band is far too time consuming now to easily do both. We had one, maybe two band festivals or competitions in a year; now they are gone several times in a month. The band is far superior to ours, no doubt, but it does cut into other activities.
I know that I frequently refer to our basketball teams, but they were a huge part of not just the school experience but of the community experience. We not only followed our own teams, I can still tell you the name of most of the coaches of the teams that we played against, quite a few of their players and many of the refs that officiated the games.
The same teams played together through their entire school careers and our social lives revolved around the games. Now there are many different options for the kids.
Even the amount of homework has increased exponentially. Other than research papers, book reports or studying for exams, there was rarely enough work to fill up an evening. Now I see kids working on homework until the wee hours if they are involved in any extracurricular activities at all. My homework, when I bothered to take it with me, was usually done on the bus ride home, or more often, on the bus ride in the morning; that's what the last minute is for, right? No way could I get away with that now.
Finally, there were the neighborhoods in town with so many children. Now we have a lot of homes that are occupied only during the summer or at best, part time. Down below the hill the Coveyous, Cronks, Waybrants, Smiths, Kosequats and many others spent years together. Above the hill there were the Fowlers, Kelbels, Mosers, Morrises and Marszalecs on one side of town and the Slifkas, Bodzicks, Burleys, McKinneys, McBrides and Heinzes on the other end, just to name a few of many. If you question this, walk around town on Halloween and see how many houses are dark; many are empty at this time of year, the others just don't participate. That never happened for us; everyone stayed home just to see the costumes and they would know the majority of the trick or treaters.
So yes, we will look back fondly on Mrs. Jezisek's classes or some of Mr. Paige's favorite sayings. We will reminisce about Mrs. Rosenthal forcing us into clothes that didn't really fit and Mr. Feather's wonderful assortment of penny candy and we will laugh about sneaking into the I-Scream Parlor against our parents' wishes. We'll remember the teachers' smoking lounge and the wonderful ladies in the lunchroom and the tasty if not completely healthy food they served us. We'll remember the town shutting down for sports and Salty trying to dribble a basketball across the county. We'll talk about long evenings spent at Menonaqua, Sturgeon Bay or at Five Mile and tell stories of those who are no longer with us. And we will smile.
I remembered to wish Happy Birthday to Patty Lauer Bek, Julie Flynn and Michael Erxleben last week; problem way, I neglected to mention the day. Happy Birthday on Wednesday, October 16 to all three.
On Thursday, October 17, Happy Birthday to Lynn Coors Walker and on Friday the 18th to Penny Seeley, Frank Rhine, Jan Allerding, Julie LaCount Green and Paulette Czerkie Bellmer. Saturday, October 19, we send along birthday greetings to Dana Parsons Phillips, Robert Jakeway, Sheila Stolt Haen and Henry "Ryp" Hankins. Sunday we reserve all of our birthday wishes for Connie Warner. On Monday, October 21, Happy Birthday to Kathi Roe Winter, Zach Spaulding, Ralph Gleason and Jean Radle and on Tuesday I know that Grandma MaryLou Kelbel would find me remiss if I left off her grandson, Ted from the list. Finally, Wednesday, October 23, we send the happiest of birthday wishes to Andy Alkema and to Christina Baker.