Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fifty Years Ago Today ...

... was my high school baccalaureate service.  I've spoken and written about this before, but I thought I'd revisit some of that service because without the documents I have, I would not remember a single thing about it.  (As one who has twice spoken at other baccalaureate services, I acknowledge this is a most humbling thought).

Bowler Hall (today)
The service was at 8:00 p.m. at the Hiram Christian Church.  And, yes, 3 June 1962 was also a Sunday.  The program tells us that Francis Proctor played the Processional and Recessional.  Mr. Proctor (never, never called him "Francis") was a near neighbor when we first moved to Hiram in the summer of 1956.  We lived in a cluster of three old houses called "Dodge Court" behind one of the old college dorms, Bowler Hall, which at that time (if I remember) was being used as the music building.  Our house featured a kitchen with a wavy wooden floor.  But its greatest glory for me: It was the first house large enough that I could have a room of my own!

The Proctors lived in one of the other houses.  He taught music at Hiram College and played the organ at the church, conducted the choir.  One odd memory: If you sat downstairs in the church (not in the balcony, where I preferred to sit in adolescence--my parents couldn't see me and I could screw around), all you could see of Mr. Proctor, seated at the organ, was the top of his balding head--except when he was conducting, then you could see an arm now and then pop up into your sight line, keeping time, cuing singers.

Mrs. Proctor had suffered from polio and was in a wheelchair.  Every morning, Mr. Proctor would carry her in his arms downstairs.  Even my self-centered 11-year-old heart was moved by the sight of him carrying her out to the car, her arms around his neck, her head lying gratefully against his chest.  She had a little dog, Judy, she kept in her lap, a dog that made White Fang and Cujo look like Beanie Babies.  If you got anywhere near Mrs. Proctor, Judy would snarl and bark her grim, sanguinary promises.  Once, Judy ran over into our yard and bit my grandmother in the ankle, then raced back, leaped into the wheelchair of Mrs. Proctor.  Who apologized.  (I have never in my life been afraid of something so small.)  The Proctors had three children (as we did): Jane (a bit younger than my older brother), Mary (a year younger than I), Johnny (about my little brother's age).  So we got to know them pretty well.  Jane had in her room a little shrine to actor/heart-throb James Dean, who'd died about a year before in a car crash.  She did not think James Dean jokes were funny.  But the three Proctor kids and three Dyer kids were friends.  I saw Jane for the first time in decades last summer at our Hiram Schools reunion.  She looked wonderful, and we laughed about Judy.

(Oddity: In a couple of years we moved down the hill north of town to 11917 Garfield Rd.; soon afterwards, the Proctors bought the land next door and built a house designed principally for her--all on one floor, wide doors, low counter tops.  And Judy reigned as before.  One day, in high school, I parked my dad's car in our drive but didn't get it all the way in Park.  Walking to our door, I heard the sound of a rolling car--ours.  I ran after it, never pausing to wonder what I'd do if I caught it.  It ended up in the Proctors' yard, its back wheels in their little artificial fish pond.  My dad saw nothing amusing about it.  Though the tow truck guy sure did.)

I don't remember what music Mr. Proctor played on 3 June 1962 for the Processional.  I'm sure it was something stately.

Presiding at the service that evening was Augustus H. Brunelle, who had retired from Hiram High School just the year before.  Until I came across this program last year, I had no memory whatsoever that he had done so.  I did not even recall that he'd been an ordained minister.  All I remembered about him was that he'd taught me Latin, English, and German (with mixed success)--and that I ended up being more like him than I ever could have imagined in 1962.

TOMORROW: The Baccalaureate Saga continues!

And a reminder: I have some books available on Amazon--some "real," some digital.  See link: Dyer's Books on Amazon

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