LUNCH WITH MARY BETH
VRGINIA BEACH (07/28/16)
This Virginia Beach summer was more than white caps, refreshing ocean, restaurant visits….and sand too hot to walk on.
Tentatively observing at ocean’s edge, our grandson, 16 years old, Carter Vaden Reid, Jr. – golfer par excellence – hauling in baby shark – after baby shark. His trophy: a hammer head – definitely a no, no. Grandmother Douglas (his DE-DE) admonished him along the way – no shark fishing. His younger sister, Latane, danced in waves with delight.
It was a typical beach dynamic….but for me there developed more: my lunch with Mary Beth.
It turned out our sumptuous lunch at Westminster-Canterbury-Virginia Beach, morphed into a Douglas Freeman H.S. ’56 Reunion feast, pure and simple. Out of the audacious tradition of My Dinner with Andre….or, in this instance, mine with Marybeth Baldwin (Highton), the game was on.
Those wonderful people of our class (DSF ’56), and those who followed (DSF ’57), streamed in and out of our consciousness as we chatted profusely about so many of them….of course many valued mates have already sailed away….as we are all destined to do.
Those of us loaded with faculty memories: Both Mears; Ada Mae Land; Mary Eubank; Mildred Harris; Hunter Purdie (of Tony Pastor fame); the front office of Marguerite Jones, Virginia Saunders, Mary Carolyn Blount (Harrison), and Teddy Jaffee; Katherine Rorrer (my U.S. History teacher, where it all began); the engaging Mary Passage (wife of WRVA’s George Passage); Helen Tanner, (or as Johnny Thompson delightfully called her, Mademoiselle TA-ANN-NEAR); Breeden and Moore; and the elusive, wonderful coach, George Rebich, taken away so abruptly – so unfairly.
This wonderful dining between two close friends after 6 decades was soft, easy, smooth, and even charming – no harshness, bitterness allowed. There, across the table, a true Longwood College devotee was our Alma Mater composer, beaming like a Cheshire cat, knowing – remembering so much in a totally non-judgmental mode. Her voice and views were as some say, resonant.
We had become closer when we were both eliminated for the DSF Honor Society – a commonality between us if you will. Mine – totally deserved – hers… totally undeserved. LAY ON, MACDUFF AND DAMN HIM BE HIM WHO FIRST CRIES ‘HOLD! Enough!
Mary Ball Bethwin (a name created by classmate, Ron Crawford), and Ray spaded deeply, not only in the food served, daring to touch and examine uncomfortable subjects…all in our humanity. Both minds recalled well, remembering all of us…even if our personal physical abilities were sliding with rapidity.
For us to see in our minds all those colorful student colleagues of such variety – gathered in moods of high spirits daily – with their jokes and their laughter, and their familiarity with each other, was as an exciting a thing as I knew. Most days were better than Christmas.
We were almost kin….we all were of the shared, same experience. I felt related. We had solid claims on each other. We have observed each other growing up, maybe even growing old, and suffering personal loss, and we felt ourselves – at least Baldwin and Wallace – felt ourselves to be part of some timeless process, a process the rules of which applied equally to us all.
I am delighted to report, with a walker, our Mary Beth Baldwin (Highton) is even more engaging than ever….oh what a mind….oh what a conversationalists….or what a damn imp – it just doesn’t get any better than that.
That’s what came to me full throated…at my lunch with Mary Beth, or if you want Crawford’s version: Maryball Bethwin. A summer’s delight – yes?
The bar is set higher now for future beach excursions.
Ray Wallace, Jr.