Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Greenacres Alumni

This blog could just as easily be entitled “Gone with the Wind.”

We moved to Fairborn in September of 1964. I don’t know what we did in those early summers but it was mostly hanging around. In the summer of 1967 we were sponsored by the Reynolds family to join Greenacres.

Early shots from before my time.
Thanks Rebecca George Greenwood!
Greenacres was a private swim club (that later added tennis, not that I cared) and in order to belong, you had to buy stock and pay annual dues.  The “father” had to join. I get that now. Most of the families were brought by their mothers and you may have rarely seen the fathers who were at work during the day—definitely a money making ploy, but I think more, which I will get to later.

The first year was a trial period, so the family could make the decision based on whether they would truly use the pool. I think this was a sound idea; and the second year we forwent our vacation for the stock price and dues. From then on, the pool was life for me until I married in 1977, and Mom and Loren moved out to Rona Village after Dad died. Mom gave me the stock.

In the Kline household, all but Loren were beyond the swim lesson years. We did all of our chores in the morning, looking forward to an afternoon at the pool. With Loren at 3-5, mom went with us. Later, by the time I was driving, I took everyone and maybe she got something done at home (or maybe not). Dad came after work. Dinners were simple and sometimes we were back in the evening. I am glad they “made” Dad join. It made for good family times that we might not have had otherwise.


Relationships at Greenacres were unique. We kids spent so much time together it was like extended family. I know crushes went on, and I wonder if any of those crushes are reading this blog, but rarely did anything of duration come out of them. That takes nothing away from the dear friendships created though. During the school year, we would go our own ways and then pick up the following summer as if time stood still. I was not on the swim team but I know those relationships were very special also. I did take Senior Lifesaving there; can’t believe I actually passed it!

The adults had a social life too. There were “adult” parties as well as the “youth” parties, and on weekends, there were family gatherings galore. My parents didn’t get as involved with that as some who will read this; but I know that was special to those who did. (I do not want to imply that my parents did not have a social life as it may seem if you take this item and add it to the fact that we didn’t have neighborhood parties from a previous post. Nothing could be further from the truth!)

My kids are going to die at this
one. Circa 1969!
Alas, times change. Families change. There was a time when Fairborn could support the Rona Hills Swim Club and Greenacres Club too. However, these were not open to everyone (although there were guest privileges). Greene County built a pool, which must have taken away from the clubs. I was married by this time and my husband, as a teacher, did not want to swim in a public place where there were students, so we put in an in-ground pool.  Mothers worked, although my daughter took children she babysat to the pool, and the clubs had smaller memberships.

It’s more complicated than one thing, but Rona Hills pool had a big crack in it and money could not be raised to fix it and it was filled in. Greenacres closed in 2005 and sits idle. I don’t totally understand all the finances, but I did work for a non-profit and they are all struggling. If the county pool could fill in the gap, that would be one thing. But as the county government makes cuts, that pool sits idle also.

The “Gone with the Wind” part is that there isn’t anything for kids and adults to come together that is quite like the pool experience. Families still do things together, but the activities have changed. Sports have always been with us, and many families spend their summers (and other seasons) at a sports venue. There are even more activities that are scrunched into already filled days. What I lament is the days that were more leisurely. Now everyone is working, babysitting, flipping burgers, or whatever, not just the adults. If you or your kid is not working, you are looked at as if there is something wrong with you!

So it’s not only about not having a pool to go to, it is also about the idea that everyone has to work all the time. I know many in this difficult economy must work more than one job. We have gained a concept of kids helping to provide their own needs, which is good, but we have lost the idea of just “goofing off.”

On Facebook, we actually have a “group” called “Greenacres Alumni.” There are members of many different ages. Join us there! The memories span generations. Now that I am semi-retired, how I wish it were still there! I could use the social aspect of the organization, even if I didn’t swim much. I would love to take my grandchildren.

Greenacres (or Rona Hills) Pool was only one part of our growing up years in Fairborn Ohio. Perhaps my readers can think of other important experiences.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

On Civility and Decent Behavior

Ol' George may have had an idea or two.....

George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

When Jackie Kennedy Onassis died, the news commentators said we had lost someone of “grace” and I thought, “Our world is becoming more casual and it seems we have lost the last bastion of grace and gentility.” My thoughts turned to casual Fridays, jeans in church, and even the business dress of the non-casual days, not to mention what “dress-up” had become. This was in the spring of 1994!


Now that I have hoped to have grabbed you into that thought, I am purposely switching gears. Beware! I may discuss “the casualness of our world” in a future blog, but that is not what is on my mind today.

It distresses and grieves me that our society seems so divided that people cannot have a civil conversation anymore. I resent being labeled because of my beliefs or opinions. I am tired of name-calling in the halls of our nation’s legislative institution. I am sick of the pre-conceived notions people have about people who have liberal and conservative leanings.

I hesitate even to use the words liberal and conservative because in themselves, they are a label. In my life’s experience, I find that 99% of us fall someplace in between. And even within that, we may lean one direction for one subject and another for a different subject. And GUESS WHAT—we may actually change our minds on a topic. Heaven forbid! We may “break party ranks” so to speak (because I am not talking about our political parties here).

All of us work with people of another belief system. Many of us have close family members with another belief system. I don’t think I’m alone when I say many times my husband and I have cancelled each other out at the polls, but at least we vote. And we had discussions about why we were voting as we were, in front of our children, so they heard both sides. And sometimes, each one of us has admitted a mistake.

What bothers me is the lack of civility in discourse today. We have lost respect for our fellow man and woman kind. Why is this? It’s not like our generation invented disagreement! The Speak-Up column in the local newspaper is filled with venom. The “comments” after any article, whether on the internet or the newspaper, reveal the lack of intellect and the profanity of those who, of course, do not sign their name. But named or not, those people exist and I believe are feeling more free to exercise their first amendment “right.”

I certainly am not opposed to the First Amendment, or I wouldn’t be writing a blog to begin with. I take this seriously and while I may throw out a subject that gets people talking, I hope to always be respectful of them as people.

For the record, I am a Christian who chooses to attend a Baptist church. I was raised to think that the Baptists were “holy rollers” (a label!) and I have yet to roll anywhere in my church. I am probably a more liberal of conservatives when talking about my church affiliation and my faith.

However, on the economic front, I may be considered something else. I laugh as I write this; that could change depending on the climate of our economic culture! Not that I “flip-flop,” but in my 58 years, the world has changed and what worked then does not work now!

I am a complicated person as are most of my readers. We agree; we disagree. But let us return to a time of civility about it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"The Last Time I Saw You"

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg was recommended to me because it’s about a 40th High School Reunion. The copyright was recent enough that I thought it would be applicable, so I decided to borrow it from the public library and read it. It was light and entertaining, and it gave me much to think about as I count down to my 40th High School Reunion!

As with most books of this sort, it follows four or five main characters in their preparation for the reunion; why they are attending, what their expectations are, and then of course what actually happens to them at the reunion.

Once conservative Denise gets past the idea that in every book we need the f-bomb at least once a chapter and the repeated breaking of the third commandment (asking herself, “Do 58 year-olds really talk that way all the time?”); the story does maintain an interesting flow. I don’t have to search hard for my character, Pam Pottsman . She’s the one who organized the thing (disclaimer: we have a great committee and no one organizes the WHOLE thing, but the personality is still mine!), is overweight, has three chins (no, I still only have two!) and someone who loves life! This is my role, will be a flutter budget in the beginning and then will hang back and watch everyone else.

The main characters include: the woman that is coming back specifically looking for one man, and hopes to know him in the Biblical way. She spends a lot of time getting ready for this reunion, obviously not satisfied with who she is. There is the woman who was never accepted by those she wanted to be accepted by, the jock who has screwed up his marriage but wants to use the event to make it up to his estranged wife, the veterinarian who isn’t sure why he is coming, and the beauty queen who has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

As I read, I wonder why my classmates are coming back. I hope people put behind them who they were in high school because that is not who they are today; and I hope we look at others the same way. One of the characters wonders “how many people go to reunions just to try on another way of being, confident that they’ll be able to sustain the ruse for that short amount of time.”* I hope we don’t think like that; I hope we’re confident in who we are today!

Another character, in a moment of introspection, wonders, if given the opportunity, what would she do differently? She believes she would have been kinder in high school, but she’s coming to make the best of what she is at the moment. Later she realizes that everyone in the room is dear to her in some way. I hope in some way, we remember that too.

The beauty queen makes an interesting observation. She dated a lot, but she didn’t have girlfriends to share her secrets with. She says, “The thing about everybody being your friend is that it can mean no one is.”* It was too embarrassing for her to admit how lonely she was. She becomes friends with the woman who didn’t fit in and she becomes a comforting friend as the beauty queen stares down the disease she must fight.

After the reunion itself,  a fancy affair which our classmates have insisted they do not want—that in itself declaring who we are—a group get together and play a question game, which I thought was kind of cool. The questions were benign but thought-provoking, such as “What were you most afraid of in coming to the reunion?” The answers were enlightening, and it was a bonding experience for those involved. The woman that was looking for the hook-up says “You know what I discovered tonight? Everyone is so much nicer than I thought. And it makes me so mad! Because I never knew that, I was always so poised to defend myself.”*

This reunion was announced as the last reunion they were going to have, so I believe there was morbidity reflected in the attitudes of the attendees. They set about accomplishing some goals and appreciating what they had as a result of their attendance. That was the true ending of the book.

Although no one is assured of tomorrow, we are certainly planning a 45th and 50th Reunion and this is NOT the end of our planned reunions!

After reading the book, and knowing the people I know, I do wonder who is coming and I sincerely hope they are all coming for good and healthy reasons. They have much to gain by doing so, even if they never have before! After all, we are a fun bunch of people!

*Elizabeth Berg, The Last Time I Saw You 
(New York: Random House, 2010).


Friday, May 6, 2011

Hospitality

As our 40th High School Reunion approaches, and we get together with friends we have not seen for many years, I would like to think about hospitality and how to make guests more comfortable. Whether or not you have literal guests in your home during this time, it is up to all of us to welcome others as we meet at our events.

These are the guests I will be sharing my home with this
August. This was taken in 1984 and Jean will want me
to remind you she is about 6 months pregnant with #3.
We got together in the Dallas area, and we sit here looking
at our yearbook, reminiscing. L-R. Me, Jean, and Linda.
 I have NOOOO problem with asking either one of them 
to help fix ameal or make a bed. Now, to figure out how 
to get all of the men OUT of the house!
The key to hospitality is making our friends feel comfortable. Hospitality is sharing. Entertaining is impressing.

Hopefully, as reunion organizers, we are doing more to make you feel welcome than creating a fancy setting. We hope we have chosen venues that will allow mixing and visiting, and there will be opportunities to share our lives with each other. Our goal is to spend less time on a “program” and more on interaction.

Most of us have been forced into hospitality by children’s activities or jobs. There are different ways of accomplishing these: a McDonald’s/Chuck E. Cheese/Skyborn Skateland Birthday party. We can treat our friends at a restaurant, which may work out better in time crunches or location. Hospitality does not have to be in the home. Singles, young and old, wealthy and no-so are not exempt! Both Jewish and Christian traditions were rooted in hospitality. In the Bible they didn’t have any Holiday Inns!

It is not for women only! I cannot underscore this enough. If you are married, you have to work somewhat in tandem, but that doesn’t prevent us as individuals in showing hospitality. Men can and need to socialize with each other in whatever way works for them.

It’s not about food, or decorating, or any other thing we may or may not have particular talent in. It is about sharing and making others feel comfortable, and learning about them. It may be about letting our guests chop vegetables or make beds.

Hopefully these days at the reunion in August will be a memory of sharing our lives in many ways. Hospitality is an attitude of sharing.

Here we are in 2011!
As I was proofing this blog, changing subjects slightly, I had some thoughts about “the old days.” Maybe other people didn’t live like I did, but we lived in downtown Fairborn and people dropped by A LOT! I realize my home is not centrally located now as it was then, but people do not drop by as they once did. If we are on the “dropper” end, we are concerned we are “interrupting” our friends in something they are involved in, so we don’t do that. If we are on the “droppee” end of it, we are concerned about silly things, like how we look or how the house looks.

Somehow, I have the idea we have lost something of value, the ability to be able to drop by and it not be a concern. I realize there are some time concerns, I really don’t want anyone dropping after 11:00 PM, but if we are home, we do welcome you in our imperfect home.

I remember back in the day Debbie Flatter and I would get in the car of an evening and just look at each other and say “Who shall we visit tonight?” which led to a myriad of experiences. In fact, I think that is what we were doing the night we met my husband.

It will be interesting to see if after this post is published, we have lots of new company! Dominos is only a couple of miles away! Come on over, just not after 11:00 PM!

On Deck: I am derailed. I don't know what's on deck. I am still working on that blog on loss. It is so much deeper than I thought it would be.