High School Friends

“High School Friends”

Dave, Dan, Hank, and I were very good friends. After High School we formed a male gospel quartet, which was held together by friendship rather than a high quality of music since we were all, by nature, baritones.

Dave valiantly served as first tenor because he was the most versatile of the bunch. He went on to Law School, married a great singer and caught the musical bug seriously. He left the law profession and enrolled in a famous music program, earned a Ph.D., and became a well-known bass soloist. He taught voice and opera in a music faculty.

Dan was a natural brain. Socially ill at ease, he could outthink us all. He earned a Ph.D. in English literature and spent his professional life as a scholar and professor in a Canadian university. He wrote scholarly papers, became an outstanding Blake authority, and presented papers at erudite conferences where he outshone his contemporaries. Dan sang baritone.

Hank became a high school teacher and a dedicated volunteer with a local service group. He conducted summer camps, became a famous storyteller and enthralled children at the local mission with his expansive narratives. He was an inventor of mechanical things that saved gas stations a lot of cash. He completed his Ph.D. in Education. Wherever he moved, he cut a wide swath, as the prairie saying goes. Hank sang second tenor, and was the philosophical, spiritual, and social leader of the group. He gave us endless lectures on psychology, and we all listened like attentive acolytes.

I was second bass. Did not do a Ph.D. thesis but got close enough to make a successful career as a social worker in private practice. It was better if I stood out in the rain a day before a quartet performance because I was able to get the low notes better as I was just coming down with a cold.

Those wedding bells put and end to our modest quartet, but the friendships continued, culminating in a forty-year reunion at our Whitepines of Northumberland Tree Farm in Ontario. We had all gone through various phases of personal growth and change. All had married exceptionally good partners.

For old-times-sake, of course, we had to reconstitute the nameless quartet. Trying to sing some of the old numbers, we were able, on two notes as I recall, to find some of the old harmony.

By now the bells have tolled three times. Dave died of Parkinson’s Disease, Dan died of Alzheimer’s, and Hank had a fatal stroke.

I am left to tell the story of lifelong precious friendships.

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