Invitation – Sunday Scribblings

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“Why don’t you come with us Friday night — it’ll be fun, a bunch of us are going to a dance at the Fort!!”

I had transferred from the school that I had attended since kindergarten after completing seventh grade. The kids were nice in the new school, for the most part. Even so, I had this unconnected feeling with them. I had a history with the kids at my old school. This was a time when you went up through the grades with most of the same kids year after year. It was 1970 and I was a junior, attending a nearby vocational school in the morning and my regular high school in the afternoon.

I was taking an office practice course at the vocational school.  For kids like me, coming from a family with no money, the courses gave you some skills that you could use after graduation from high school. It was pretty cool — our office practice teacher was all of 10 years older than I was and there were 3 or 4 kids from each of the surrounding centralized school districts, maybe 20 kids total. There were a few other courses available besides ours — cosmetology, retailing, mechanics, and electrical trades.

I was surprised and delighted to see that Will was taking the electrical trades course — he was one of the kids that I knew so well from my old school. There were a couple of other guys that I also knew taking the same course, but Will was by far my favorite. We kind of had a “thing” before I transferred, whatever that means when you’re 13 or so.

We were 16 and 17 then and I was curious if  something more could develop between us. When Will invited me along, saying, “Why don’t you come with us Friday night — it’ll be fun, a bunch of us are going to a dance at the Fort!!”, oh gosh, I wanted to so badly. I knew these kids and they knew me and I wanted that feeling of belonging somewhere again. But I had something else that I had to do. Don’t remember now just what it was — it doesn’t matter. I said “no, can’t do it — but next weekend I’m free, okay?”

“Okay, but don’t make any other plans…..”

Monday morning I heard a couple of the teachers at the vocational school talking — Will and his other 4 friends had been hit head on by a drunk driver. Will was paralyzed from the chest down, 2 of the boys and one of the girls were killed, another in critical condition. The drunk walked away.

Thirty-eight years later, my heart still tries to pound it’s way out of my chest whenever I think about that invitation.

If you’d like to read other invitations, click here for Sunday Scribblings.

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5 thoughts on “Invitation – Sunday Scribblings

  1. I often wonder how many near-misses I’ve had. Some I was cognizant of, but I’m sure there were many I was not. You told this story so very well. I could feel my heart pounding at the end.

  2. My heart stopped also. I am like patois. I wonder about my near misses also. My friend’s dad worked at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg when the mine fire killed 91 miners in 1972. His dad didn’t feel good that day and decided to stay home. Excellent post. I love your picture on your blog banner.

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