Several articles on this website mention high school friends of mine like Terry Rockhold and Ed Olson. But our little group had another member, Carl Martin.
Carl was a likeable nice guy for whom things never seemed to go quite right.
He lived east of Essex and attended the Jackson school for grades K-8. That meant that most of us in Richwood didn't meet him until our freshman year, when students from Essex and Magnetic Springs, where there were no high schools, came to Richwood for grades 9-12.
Carl and I were in many classes together. Also, I was a manager for the Richwood High School sports teams and Carl played basketball. However, he was the twelfth man on a twelve-man team, a practice player who rarely got into an actual game unless the score wasn't close.
We graduated, and Carl went on to Ohio University. The next summer, Terry and I talked him and Ed into competing in an event we staged, and much to everyone's surprise, they won the thing! For that story, click here.
After college, he married and became a teacher in the Hilliard school system west of Columbus, Ohio.
In June 2001, I sent out e-mails to many of my classmates from the RHS Class of 1965, inviting them to visit this website.
Mary Jo Fetter Motz wrote me, "I did not have a chance to read everything on your site, but so far have not found any mention of Carl Martin. He had such a short life."
Indeed, he died of Hodgkin's disease when he was still in his twenties.
I've found very little that I wrote about Carl during high school. But here are three small moments that I still smile about.
Dudley Wills, a high school teacher, would take four of us out at a time for practice driving as part of his summer driver's training course.
We used a plain dark green Chevrolet four-door with a three-speed manual transmission. Mr. Wills sat in the front passenger seat, with an extra clutch and brake pedal in case of emergencies. One of us students would drive. The other three rode in the back seat until it was our turn.
Carl was at the wheel one day as we cruised through the farm country outside Richwood. His quarter-hour was up, so Mr. Wills told him, "Pull over here, but not in the ditch."
Carl must not have heard the middle two words. He carefully steered the Chevy off the road onto the shoulder and halfway down into the grassy drainage channel that paralleled the road, stopping with the car listing 30 degrees to starboard.
From the passenger seat, Mr. Wills glared up his student. Carl looked down at him, wide-eyed. "Did I do something wrong?"
"I said not in the ditch!" the instructor repeated.
Nevertheless, we were in the ditch, and we had to make the best of it. Carl climbed out of the car on the uphill side and changed places with one of us back-seat drivers. Despite some inexpert use of the clutch, we got out of there and continued down the road.
Our junior class play, presented on November 15, 1963, was a comedy based on the 1950s TV sitcom Father Knows Best.
We tried out for the play in a classroom after school, reading excerpts from the script for a small audience of our classmates plus director Marjorie Goddard.
As I recall, I had already been named to the Robert Young role of the father, Jim Anderson. Now it was time to cast some of the smaller parts, including a client of mine named Brinkworth. Carl was up for the part. For his audition, I read "Father" to his "Mr. Brinkworth."
In this scene, I'm just realizing what Brinkworth does not yet know: his son Ralph is dating my daughter.
We were reading these lines from typed pages, heads down, barely looking at each other. However, when Carl implied that I was an "old fool," my head stayed down but my eyebrows shot up, and I looked nervously out over the top of my glasses at the audience. It got a good laugh. (When we presented the play on stage, I couldn't use this reaction, because our heads were up and our gestures larger.)
Of course, it was Carl who was auditioning, not me, so maybe I shouldn't have been adding any "business" to my reading. But it didn't matter, as he got the part anyway.
In the final semester of our senior year, many of us were enrolled in Marian Cochran's first-period speech class. We met in the third-floor Music Room, where the marching band stored its instruments.
One of the speeches that I gave was a demonstration of how to take a picture with a Polaroid camera. Standing at the band director's lectern, I shot this photo of the rest of the class. Carl is in the center of the front row, next to my empty chair.
But my story involves another morning and another photographer, a professional, who was in the gymnasium taking pictures of group activities for the yearbook.
Up on the third floor, Carl was at the lectern and had just started to give a serious speech to the rest of us when he was interrupted. Over the public address system came an announcement that the members of the Dance Band should get their instruments and assemble for their picture. Strike one.
Carl had to start over. He didn't get very far before various musicians began to enter the room behind him and grab their instruments. Strike two. A little flustered by the distractions, he managed to keep going.
Carl probably wasn't too happy about all this, but it struck me as funny. I hope we can all smile about it now.