Hello (my beloved friends and mentors)

I was looking at the profiles of one of the two graduating classes that I can claim membership in - Streator, Illinois (1969).  Reading the names of class mates who have died was one of the most painful experiences I have endured in a while.  My training as an actuary tells me, there is something toxic there, residue from the coal mines, the glass factories, DDT, etc.  But I found only the energy to eulogize three of these departed class mates:

Patty Wilkereson is dead, too.

Patty Wilkereson is dead, too.
Of all the girls I adored, Patty was so special - the freckles, the blond hair; 
But she was a tomboy, and that always attracted me - because a tomboy
will race you, play catch with you, not throw a dodge ball like a girl - 
You don't ever have to worry about hurting a tom boy
Far more likely, you will slip up and put them off and they will haul off
And whale on you.
Patty was just a human being - a friend - a dear friend
And a good human being.
So many of the girls describe their love-hate relationship with her.
I think it was because she was always surrounded by boys who loved tom girls.
Jealousy and envy - and these were qualities that Patty did not possess
So, no wonder there was sometimes such friction and animosity
It was as if an alien from another planet had landed and was in serious danger
Of capturing the hearts and loyalties of all the boys - all the best of boys
All the best looking, the smartest, the kindest, the most artistically gifted.
Patty went military - what else?  What else is as tom boy who is a God-fearing patriot
Supposed to do?
Patty Wilkerson is dead, and a part of me died with her.
Rest in peace oh angel - who always called us out on our nonsense,
But who could play the nurse, Joan of Arc, and Xena Warrior Princess
Without ever skipping a beat.
I'll see you in heaven, Patty Wilkerson - 
And we can run and throw and laugh the rest of days away.

- - - -
Oh no, how can it be that Linda Bedecker has died so young?
She who used to have hair-ironing Friday nights,
And put half a buck of gas in the pink car,
Who kept all the girls laughing, except for gym class which ROARED!

Who sang and sculpted, and took the road trip to F L A with
Kathy, June, Wilma and Judy in the brand new '70 Cutlass
Oh alas, alack, did these lasses ever pick up the slack
And what stories they did tell of THAT trip before the
reality of the separation of the umbilical cord from Streator
and all those Streator class mates into what is next in the world -
Be it college, military, or some drudgery job at the factory,
Marriage, kids, just run away to get away not then even realizing
Better than this it would never be, although, at best,
you can find just as good.

Who had more fun at Norris' than at the homecoming dance
Because fun, and life, are always where you find them, WHEN YOU CHOOSE
to make the best of the moment – that ZEN-like state which God confers
upon us at our pleasure.

Gone, so tragically departed but, if I were to wager there ever was
One Holy Spirit who stays and guards and guides me into the straight
and Narrow ways of the Lord's most loving children
Then it's Linda B. that's guiding me to see the see we all did see
A glimpse of all the best that we might ever be.

God Bless You Beloved Child of God.
- - - -

It just seems impossible to me. the words, "Ralph Kotches is dead," strike like a metal-gloved hand across the face.  How long ago was it anyway, that way=ward fun-loving soul drummed up the roars of thunder with that smile on his face saying "got a plan, got a plan, hey man, got a plan, you won't even BELIEVE it!"

Ralph Kotches is dead, and one day, too, I shall follow.  
So my drummer, drummer boy, my friend, 
drum me into the halls at the end, 
of where I was born to go and stay.  

So my drummer drummer boy, 
laughing loudly, filled with joy, 
set the tempo march us double time.  

So my drummer, drummer boy, 
keep me cat-like ready, keep me iron-steady, 
keep me in the joys of heady child's play near God.  

So my drummer, drummer boy, 
Streator's pride, Streator's joy, m
ay you that drummer, drummer boy always be.  

So my drummer, drummer, boy, drum some more, 
that we may see, what will be in store, 
if only we, join hands embark on the goals of community, serenity, 
and love.  

And so my drummer, drummer boy, 
keep us laughing, frolic joy, eternal joy, 
eternal grace, eternal smile on every loving face, 
and always keep the beat in place as we go marching on.

Oh when the saints,
Go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in.
Ralph Kotches will be the drummer,
When the Saints Go Marching In.

I have some unique things to offer the world, to make it a better place. What I most want to do, and have only and always wanted to do, is to sing and play the piano - so, that is what it will be; but before that, I will need some money - a pathetically small amount, so that if Social Security can be so good as to send me the THREE checks I am owed for SSDI, come May 1, I can take off and soar (or fail - it hardly matters).

Yes, the prayer has been made, the answer has been given:  Not just yet; Be patient; Wait a little longer.

Wishing you all the best of health and spiritual values on this, the loveliest day I can remember.  (No reply is needed - I've worked it through for myself!)

With Warm and Fond Regards,

Mark Raymond Ganzer

I won't be able to blog at the pace of the last six months or so forever.  I'm not really a blogger, just a rapid reader with fast fingers.  I think it will be another month, more or less, and then I will be off, with a troupe of irregular geniuses and we will raise a lot of money for worthy causes.  I hope to visit every state in the union, and quite frankly, every country in the world.  I love you all.

May there one day be peace on earth
(And let it begin with me)