My five decades since I graduated from T.L. Handy High School in Bay City, Michigan
July 07, 2014
My 50th high school class reunion is early this fall and as part of that we have been asked to write a summary of our lives during that time. Here's my first draft.
I don't know where to start about how I spent my last 50 years since graduating from high school. There were the years when I was in and out of prison. There was the small boat ride through the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. There was a whisper in my ear while sitting in a small bar in Bosnia asking me if I was a spy. Then there was my audition for a hugely popular televsion show.
But I'd guess that many of you are just like me in trying to pin down individuals and where they fell on the high school radar.
During my junior and senior years in high school I was the one wandering through the halls of the school and attending activities with a Nikon camera around my neck. I was the photographer for the school paper, the Handy Pep. I was actively involved in politics and in getting Republican candidates elected to office.
My interests and involvements stayed pretty much the same over the past 50 years with several significant additions. I got a journalism degree from Michigan State, worked at a wide-variety of newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper chain in Michigan and managed the pressroom at the State Capitol for many years. I went on to become a career legislative staffer working for a variety of lawmakers on both the House and Senate side.
The world-changer in my life has been my marriage to my wife who was a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School in Bay City. Of all the things I've done I'm most proud of my family, my wife Gladys, two kids, both grown and married, their spouses and three grandchildren. That's where the real action and satisfaction has been for me. Just ask to see their pictures when you see me at the reunion.
I was in and out of prison at various institutions. I was a volunteer for Prison Fellowship. Many of those years were spent helping incarcerated dads learn or gain fathering skills. I did take a boat ride through the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. Another reporter and I took advantage of a small window to get a visa to that country. We spent more than a week there and were interviewed by NPR when we got home.
And it was kind of scary when I was sitting on a bar stool in a small village in Bosnia with my son-in-law drinking what the locals drink when a Telly Savalas looking guy asked me in broken English if I was a spy. He was serious. My son-in-law, our daughter and their kids are in the country to do humanitarian work after the war there.
My son and I auditioned for the Amazing Race. We had a whole lot of fun filling out the application and doing an audition tape. We didn't even get a nibble of interest.
I'm really grateful for my Handy years. It served as a launching pad for my later education and for my career. I count it as one of the 10,000 reasons that Matt Redmond sings about in his song with that name. Looking back I have more reasons than I can count to thank God for what he has given me. Four years at T. L. Handy is at least one of them.