A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ad quinquagesimum annum -- Updated!

And very nearly to the day, TOF and the Incomparable Marge attended a party celebrating the 50th anniversary reunion of TOF's graduating class from the hallowed halls of high school.

Said school was (and is) Notre Dame of Green Pond, which stands between Easton and Bethlehem just off the William Penn Highway. TOF used to access the school by taking the South Side bus to downtown, then walking up a block to catch the intercity bus, which would drop him off on the highway so he could walk down to the school. Later, TOF obtained an automobile, a 1953 Packard Clipper which his parents acquired from the retiring pastor. Named "The Beast" -- its engine was larger than some cars! -- it provided comfy transport for a motley crew: TOF, Danny Hommer, Red Scannell, Sterling Carter, and Jim Welsh.

The Committee; not the banquet hall

The affair ran from 1 to 7, with two buffet meals; to wit, lunch and dinner. Plus steamed clams. It was a great job by the group who organized and put it on: in particular, kudos to the Stephan twins.  See left.

The reunion took place at The Meadows, a banquet hall outside Hellertown. TOF did not realize until departing that Wassergass Road, where the great war epic Counterattack was filmed, was nearby.

Executive producer, Gary Armitage, star actor, and stunt man
Several cast members were present at the reunion: executive producer Gary Armitage, Red Scannell, and Tony Ingraffea. Gary told us that some folks he had shown it to thought we had used documentary footage. He also lamented that when we set the truck on fire, the implanted "machine gun bullets" ignited too quickly for the gate speed of the camera, so it looked like an explosion instead.

Red performing stunt

Cousin Mariellen, TOF, Turney Gratz, Tony Ingraffea,
(seated) not-so-Red Scannell
TOF's cousin, Mariellen, was there. She was TOF's Milchgeschwister. The Mut was unable to feed TOF so both he and Mariellen got their milk from Mariellen's mother. Note there is a word in German for this relationship. We talked about how, growing up, most of the houses nearby contained relatives. This "thickness" of the neighborhood is something many folks today find unfamiliar in our more itinerant times. Interestingly, some classmates had not known until now that we are cousins.

The attendees were a mix of folks who were recognizable versus not. Tiny Verba was immediately recognizable because he was, as always, the largest person in the room. TOF also recognized Tony Ingraffea, Jim Dolan, Gary Armitage,
l. to r.: Liz McFadden and husband; Mariellen Singley and
husband; TOF
Red Scannell, and a few others. But some people, like Gary Difillipantonio and Turney Gratz had to remind themselves to him. TOF had most trouble recognizing the girls, since they were not wearing ND uniforms. Ho ho. TOF jests.

Liz McFadden, he knew from previous encounters, and he nearly recognized Regina Wersinger, who had played the piano in the school orchestra; but for many of the others he had to squint at the name tags, which can be uncomfortable, given where they were stuck on.

The astonishing thing was how much everyone looked like their parents and grandparents. Go figure.

TOF (on right) and Sweet Sharon
TOF encountered his High School Sweetheart™, the fondly-remembered Sharon Hinkle, and a few minutes' conversation revealed her to be as sweet and kind a person as his memories had insisted. We spoke of the Great Catastrophe of the Caisson Ball of 1966 which TOF will not describe, for TOF cringes at the memory; but Sharon remembers it as funny -- now. It did not seem funny at the time. Sharon also told a story about her first encounter with the Mut, whom she did not then know. TOF will also not repeat this story. He had not heard it before, but it must have cracked the Mut up.

So TOF takes Sharon over to the table and introduces her to the Incomparable Marge. This is my high school sweetheart and we're running away together. "Good," says the Marge. "Take him."  The two of them hit it off. TOF is happy to be the cause of such amity.

Gary and his Steerman
Some folks were aware that TOF is a writer of science fictional tales. Gary Armitage told of meeting a couple at a seminar facility he hosts up in New Hampshire. When he revealed that he had attended Lafayette College in Easton PA, they looked at him. Easton? Did you ever meet... (cue awe) Michael Flynn? It transpired that they would be SF writers themselves and wanted to be just like Michael Flynn. They were his biggest fans. We were all certain they were fine upstanding people, but everyone at the table mentioned Stephen King.

Anyhow, it was a fun time reliving the past. Recalling getting detention for chewing gum in line. Or getting whapped by teachers. (Things were different then.) The Braniac Class, a/k/a Freshman VII, had the honor of receiving the first Mass Detention in each semester. Our gamekeeper, Miss (yes, Miss) Monzalillo gave us as a detention assignment a 500-word essay on the inside of a tse-tse fly. Well, that led in TOF's case to a SF advanture involving being shrunk to tse-tse-like size. Second semester, we got 500 words on "the inside of a ping-pong ball." TOF made it a sequel to the tse-tse fly, bringing the said insect back for an encore/


  1. Notre Dame? No way! I've been there many times. You see, I attended Bethlehem Catholic. I only juuuust missed attending Notre Dame; one year after I left High School they added a bus a block away from my house. Were it there four years earlier I would have been a Crusader instead of a Golden Hawk.

    But, one of my best friends is a Notre Dame grad! And I've seen several shows there - you guys tend to do well at the Freddy Awards each year. Aforementioned friend won best dancer a year after I left High School.

    Pretty cool, I say.

    1. For those outside the valley, the Freddies ( are here:

    2. Great Post TOF! English Armitage

  2. The equivalents of "milk brother" and "milk sister" are pretty common words in most Indo-European languages, but they've fallen out of use. They show up in a fair number of law or canon law texts, though. Irish law used to have a fair number of obligations between such kith.

    Alexander of Neckam is famous for his own accomplishments as a scholar and proto-scientist, but he got an extra push from being King Richard III's milk brother. (It's also why we know that his mom's name was Hodierna, as she got royal money from Richard at various times; he even gave her a village, Knoyle Hodierne, as well as 27 pounds a year.) His mom was able to get him into a good church school at St. Alban's Monastery, and he got a decent amount of royal support in his ecclesiastical and scholarly careers. Since Richard usually seems to have tuned out everything English, it's unusual that he paid so much attention to his obligations in this case.


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