A Small-World Story
We’ve been getting a lot of calls about our new March-April issue, which is a commemorative issue about Joe Paterno. One such call I fielded today was from a reader in Richmond, Va., who had just gotten the new issue and who wanted to buy two more copies. I put him in touch with our Alumni Store and went back to whatever I had been doing.
A few hours later, he called me back, saying he wanted me to talk to his wife. She had lived in Somerset, Pa.—my hometown—for a number of years, he said, and she knew my family. Naturally I was happy to have him put her on the phone.
Her name is Jolinda Myers, and she knew her stuff: She told me that my brother (a professional photographer in Somerset) had done family portraits for her, and that her daughter had briefly taken a ballet class from my sister. She also knew that my best friend in childhood was Richard Critchfield.
Then she described the location of the house she had lived in—at the corner of Clover Hill Road and Felgar Road, just up the hill from my house. And I said, “You know, I have a childhood memory from that house. Or maybe it was the one next door….” So I told her the memory:
Richard and I had occasion to be at that house for some reason one summer day when we were maybe 9 or 10 years old—I don’t remember the reason, but Richard and I went everywhere on our bikes. I vaguely think I might have been helping him collect on his paper route that day. Someone at that house had a brand-new baby—a boy—and I remember thinking it was cool that the kid’s birth date was June 25. That date is exactly halfway between one Christmas and the next, and my 10-year-old self saw that as the perfect birthdate in terms of maximizing the presents you get.
I don’t know why I remember that, but it’s just one of those very specific childhood memories that has always stuck with me. And over the years I’ve occasionally wondered how old that baby would be today.
Well, Jolinda told me that that she was the woman who had just had that baby. Her son’s name is Christopher and his birthday is indeed June 25. I asked her what year he was born, and it turns out I was off by a year or so—I would have been 11 then.
And when Jolinda’s son grew up and went off to college, he went to—yup—Penn State. Chris was a manager for the football team and was there at the Fiesta Bowl in 1987 when Penn State won its second national championship.
As an added twist, I used to be the nomenclator (a fancy word for name-reader) at the College of Health and Human Development commencement ceremonies, and Jolinda says I read her son’s name at graduation. I, of course, had no idea at the time that he was the infant I had met some 21 years earlier.
Oh, and he now lives in that very same house at the corner of Felgar and Clover Hill.
Tina Hay, editor