Birthday celebration brings up happy memories

Birthday celebration brings up happy memories By Bob Karolevitz
Writer at Large Good grief, how did I get so old? Helping Phyllis commemorate the date of my 86th birthday (April 26) were Tim and Mary Waltner and Keith and Cherie Jensen. Tim is publisher of the Freeman Courier and director of this yearâ�?�?s Schmeckfestâ�?�?s musical The Sound of Music; in the cast were 39 Mennonite nuns! Keith is the retired manager of the South Dakota Press Association and, before that, the director of the South Dakota University Alumni Association. I had been president of the latter organization and MC-ed the annual banquet of the newspaper group for a number of years when he was the boss. Cherie is now assistant manager of the press association. We had plenty to talk about! There was the time in London when Phyllis cried all the way from the production of Les Miserables to our dinner date afterwards. And when Mary took pictures of my scuffed knees following a tumble on the tracks of the trolley in Amsterdam. (I wonâ�?�?t even tell you about our stroll through the red light district there.) The Waltners and the Jensens provided the steaks for our intimate dinner and Mary baked (from â�?�?scratchâ�?) a three-tiered chocolate cake which I especially enjoyed, being a chocoholic. While Cherie prepared the spinach salad with sliced strawberries, toasted almonds and sliced onions with vinaigrette dressing, someone told of the occasion at the very busy Gatwick Airport in England. The cab driver held up signs to locate his fares. The Karolevitz name was spelled correctly and the Waltnerâ�?�?s name came out Wattners. And we have known Tim and Mary as the Wattners ever since! We heard Keithâ�?�?s recollections about his auto problems when he lost the rear view mirror on his rented car traveling on Irelandâ�?�?s narrow roads when he met another vehicle; and how he had arranged for a cab full of newspaper people to go to an eating house in Boston â�?�? and found out it was just across the street. I waited for an opportunity to tell about my ineptitude as an auto mechanic â�?�? but the chance never came. There were lots of references to brushes with traffic cops, including the time Phyllis talked me into taking a stretch of a scenic drive into the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. It would have been okay, except for the fact that I was â�?�?speedingâ�? about 30 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone through a village of about 14 people at 7 a.m. There wasnâ�?�?t another car on the road at that hour â�?�? except for that danged traffic cop. I pulled over, expecting him to go around me in pursuit of some bad guy somewhere. But, no, he was after me. I didnâ�?�?t get a ticket, but I got a chewing out which would have been worthy of a Marine sergeant. Afterward Phyllis said, â�?�?I should have told him â�?�?he doesnâ�?�?t drive like that when he isnâ�?�?t drinkingâ�?�?.â�? You had to be there to join in the laughter. Anyway, my birthday party was a huge success. I wonder what theyâ�?�?ll think of next year? �?© 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz

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