Sister Mary Abram was Silent Hill before Silent Hill was cool!

One of the coolest nuns that I ever knew when I was in high school, was Sister Mary Abram.  She was cool for two reasons….First, she stimulated my interest in History and current events, and second, because she played the  Mandolin.  Now, as a gamer, I have to confess—yes, I am a fan of the Silent Hill series,

James, set to attack, encounters a Lying Figur...

James, set to attack, encounters a Lying Figure in the foggy streets of Silent Hill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and even if Silent Hill is not for you, you have to admit that there is something hauntingly beautiful about the main theme form the first game in the series:

No, wait…Sister Mary Abram was cool for a third reason…One time in class, she announced, “Michael Meyer—Starting today—you will have a three question a day limit!”  You see, I have a very analytical mind, and I love to take issues apart and hack an idea to death, even long after others in the class have moved on to the next paragraph, page or chapter.  But I can’t leave an idea alone, so one day, I actually decided to push the envelope, and dare to ask more than my allotted three.   Well, I’ll be damned if Sister Mary Abram didn’t in fact say to me,

“No—you had your three questions, no more today!”

Now, some of you might think that she was a jerk for saying that, but I respected her for it because it showed that she was a person of her word!

Now, getting back to point number two—Sister Mary Abram played the mandolin, and one time, before an all school mass, I was treated to her rendition of “Lara’s Theme” from “Dr Zhivago”:

1965 ... Julie Christie "Dr. Zhivago'

1965 … Julie Christie “Dr. Zhivago’ (Photo credit: x-ray delta one)

It was an awesome treat to listen to her play…it was almost as if she was taught the chords by Maurice-Alexis Jarre himself!


The things that you hear at your 10 year high school reunion….

This is where I graduated from High School—Waterloo Columbus High–in May of 1980.

WIKI:Columbus High School was named after Christopher Columbus, and the use of his name was meant to evoke a sense of adventure and the faith required to embark of a voyage into the unknown that has no certain end. The school mascot is the sailor, also after Columbus. School colors are kelly green and white, although, today other versions of green are accepted such as forest or hunter, while, black, and yellow are strictly prohibited as secondary colors.

You hear a lot of weird things at your high school reunion…one of them were stories about Sister Janella, who taught in the science department, and if I’m not mistaken, also monitored a home room or two, and when Tom Lind, our Sophomore English teacher left to become a Representative in the Iowa State House, Sister Janella stepped in as a substitute until Dennis Wellen was hired to take his place permanently. When the school opened in August of 1959, My sister Terry was a Sophomore, that transferred from the old Sacred Heart High School, which closed (Along with 5-6 other local parish high schools) when Columbus opened, and Sister Janella was already “Old as dirt” , as so many of my classmates remembered her.

Anyway, Sister Janella, according to one of the stories told at the reunion, comes waddling into the classroom, and gets out a movie projector, and gets it all threaded and such, and then goes up to the chalkboard, and pulls down the screen.  And while she pulls down the screen, she turns, looking away from the screen, so she doesn’t see the current Playboy bunny that somebody had stuffed up inside the period before…

…Oh it gets worse….

She the waddles like she’s the old man that Tim Conway portrayed on the Carol Burnett Show…And taking her time to get back to the projector….In the mean time, the kids are all laughing like crazy, but she ignores them, and proceeds to the movie projector….

…turns on the movie projector….

IT was only THEN that she turns around, and sees the naked woman on the screen….

So, she waddles up to the front of the classroom….

…And stands in front of the class, and bitches at them for putting the naked woman—the whole time with the damned movie projected on her face!!

Well, that was one of the “Sister Janella Stories”  The other one is a lot shorter, but just as funny….

…About once a month, we had a dress up day and it usually was on a Friday…And since Columbus was a Catholic high school, they tied in an all school mass with a pep rally afterwards.  Well, back in 1980, I thought that I went to school with all these perfect little angels….

Pft!  Not!

At our ten year reunion, I learned a few things about those um….”Angels”!!!

As I said before, Sister Janella worked primarily in the Science Department, and for awhile taught Biology.   There was a biology lab that had tons of rats and another one that was full of plants, and one of those plants was a Cannabis plant.  But Sister Janella didn’t have a clue that the Cannabis plant was the source of marijuana! 

Well, on the night before  one of those “All School Mass/Pep Rally” Fridays, four or five my “angelic” classmates broke into Sister Janella’s Biology labs and stole all of her Cannabis plants!

And you are probably already one step ahead of me in this story…Yes, you guessed it…the next day, those four or five skipped the all school mass, and sat in Lenny Wilson’s car and smoked pot…complements of Sister Janella!

Sir James Paul McCartney has nothing on my mother….

The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door

The wild and windy night that the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears crying for the day
Why leave me standing here, let me know the way
Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried
And still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here, lead me to you door

But still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here (Don’t keep me wait), lead me to you door
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Sometime in the mid-late 1970’s, Dad’s cataracts on his one good eye had gotten so bad, that he had to give up driving, so Mom had to take Driver’s Ed, and get her license.   One day, while on a trip to God knows where, Mom drove, and Tim was in the seat next to her.  Well, Mom had come to this VERY LONG and winding road that curved all the way to the left, then all the way to the right….

…And poor mom, was so nervous, and so rigid when she held that damned driving wheel, that when she turned the wheel, she didn’t move her hands hand over hand….oh hell no…she kept her hands on the steering wheel and leaned all the way until her head was in Tim’s lap, and poor Tim had push Mom’s torso back into the correct position!

How they got home safe, beats the hell outta me!

Now on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre –“Moon Over Bethlehem”

…With a hundred and ten cornets right behind….

Telling that story about church reminded me of a Christmas play that we did a few years ago with the toddlers thru sixth grade group.  I was working with Ken, who was the unofficial Drama Director.  Ken had written a short Christmas play for the children to act out, and even though I was a middle aged adult, he asked me to be one of the angels.

Well, being a natural ham, I said yes, and  I really got into my part. At the time I was also really getting into “The Music Man”—partly because I’m Iowa, but also because I have a great love of Broadway musicals.  Anyway, it is now rehearsal time, and I’ve got my “inner Robert Preston” bumping around in my head….

And so I have one line, mind you, but I want to play it with gusto, and I gave it my all….

I had one line, “Baby Jesus is born, woot!”, and I was supposed to dance around the crib—-which I did…..And I played it like I was Professor Harold Hill, all showman like and when it came time for my line, I strutted around the crib, and made a figure eight, mimicking the moves that Robert Preston did in the last scene of “The Music Man”.

(Now, I need to insert a quick note here—I had just recently lost about 10 pounds, so my pants were a little big on me.)

I come up to the crib, do my little “Preston” impersonation, then comes my line….

“Baby Jesus is born, woot!”

And I raise my hands up, as if to offer praise…..

….And my pants came down! 

Well, thankfully, it was only a rehearsal, so ONLY 20 or so were there to watch me moon poor Baby Jesus!

Good thing I wasn’t a fan of “Equus” or “Oh, Calcutta!”, right?


  Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding

  Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

Okay, I got into one of those “What shall I write about today” moods….You know, it’s called WRITER’S BLOCK.  So, I hit some button…and WordPress  generated the above question, and I shall try my best to answer it.

Northridge Baptist Church,  Des Moines, IA

I had to be around 2002-2004-ish….I was in Sunday School, when all of a sudden, Deacon Tim Elliot runs in, and announced that the church was on fire! Well, the next five minutes were all a blur, and almost like watching a movie in slow motion, as we run upstairs to the nurseries to fetch the children out, Tim running ahead of me, and all I see are the heels of his black oxfords.  Apparently what had happened, the bricks in the old furnace had caught on fire, and the flames were spreading thru the heat ducts.   We grabbed all of the children—sometimes two under each arm, and ran outside as fast as we could.  As I remember, we stood outside, watching the building and waited for the Des Moines Fire Department to come.  Thankfully, they did go inside, checked the building, and whatever fire had started, had burned its way out, and nobody got hurt, and we resumed our Sunday School services and a few years later, the church managed to get a new boiler!

Sorry, it’s not much of a story, but you folks at WordPress asked for a heart pounding, belly twisting moment, and you got it!

“Weren’t you supposed to pick him up??”

My 52nd birthday was two days ago (June 5th) , and all these stories jogged my memory a bit…

It was my tenth birthday, and it was about 6 PM or so….Mom and Dad got a call from Tm, and he told them to make sure that I didn’t eat any supper, and Mom and Dad kept it quiet,  and managed to stall their dinner long enough for Tim to come and pick me up.  I get into the car, and we arrive at The Brown Bottle….Jim and Marty were already seated at the table, and as I sat down, they gave me a replay as well as a confession….

“You were supposed to pick him up!”

“No, You were!”

“No, it was Jim’s job to pick him up!”

Needless to say, what had happened was these three clowns could not decide who was to pick me up, and on their own, each decided that one of the other two  were going to pick me up, then they all arrived at the restaurant, sat down, and all asked the other one where I was, and after playing the blame game for five minutes, Tim politely goes over to the pay phone (This was back in the Ice Age before cell phones, little ones!), runs home in his 1972 Cougar (which was cool as hell to a 10 year old!) …And races back to the Brown Bottle with me in tow.  But hey, it;’s all good—If I recall correctly, I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, lol!

“Psychus Suphomas, Part Four” (or, “Grandma Hillbear—The Granddaddy of all “Psychus Suphomai”)

It was Spring Break, 1994….Our group, Campus Bible Fellowship had planned a missions trip to inner City Chicago

English: in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

English: in Chicago, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with Inner City Impact for the week of Spring Break.  On the way back, We were passing thru Wisconsin, just at the very southern end where Wisconsin meets Illinois, and one of the members of our group, Rachel Holtum, was on her cell phone and was talking to her grandma, and asked Mike Nemmers, our leader, if we could stop at her place before finishing the trip home, and assured Mike that we would only vary the route by a few miles.  Mike agreed, and we told Pat our bus driver where to go, and we arrived at Rachel’s grandparent’s house in a timely manner. 

(Now, before I go any further, during my college days, I was nick named “Bear” because of my hirsute body)

Spring Break Cookies from above.

Spring Break Cookies from above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We stayed for about 30 minutes, and Rachel and her grand parents treated us to a musical trio.  Rachel played the Viola, Grandma played the piano, and my memory is kinda weak here, but I believe that Grandpa played the harmonica, but I’m not really sure.  Anyway, Grandma then treated us to cookies and gave each of us our own personal bag to eat on the way home, and on our way out the door, I turned to Rachel’s grandma and said to her, “Thank you for the lovely time and the cookies, Mrs…..

I then turned to Rachel, held up my palm to my lips and said, “Rachel…what’s your grandma’s name?”

“Hill, Bear”

I then resumed my greetings to Rachel’s grandma:

“Thank you for the lovely time and the cookies, Mrs. Hillbear!”

Rachel was just doubled over in hysterics and for a moment could not speak a word, and with a few tears of hysteria, she then quipped,

“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  It’s Hill, Beaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarr!”