It was great getting to see my old high school classmate Burl Burlingame — and his wife Mary, also a veteran journalist (and night editor at the Honolulu paper) — the last few days.
As you know, he was here for the International Plastic Modelers Society’s 2016 National Convention & Contest, where he was both a presenter and contestant. He gave a great talk Saturday morning about what most people don’t know about Pearl Harbor, from which I learned a lot. After that, I accompanied the Burlingames to Charleston to see the Hunley.
Of course, I couldn’t help telling the guide that “You realize this is the world’s leading authority on Japanese midget subs,” thereby putting pressure on both the guide and Burl. But Burl was up to it, and he was fairly impressed with what the Hunley folks had accomplished. I was, too. I remain amazed that they were able to remove all that concretion from the outside and the inside of the sub without destroying the whole thing.
We capped the weekend by cooking out at my house, where Burl and Mary met a few folks I thought they might like to meet, plus most of the Warthen clan.
A good time was had by all. Or by me, anyway.
If you’re not a military brat like Burl and me, you might not realize what a special thing it is for your friends and family to meet one of your high school friends. Before meeting Burl on our way back from Thailand last year, my wife had met exactly one of my high school friends — briefly, in 1975. Burl brings the total to two, out of a class of 600.
Burl and I graduated in 1971 — as part of the festivities Sunday night, I showed some Super 8 movie footage (silent, of course), recently digitized, from our last days of high school. As it happens, my Dad shot some footage of me talking with Burl and another friend or two outside the HIC on graduation day — at a distance, with a feel like surveillance film. Unfortunately, you mostly just see the back of Burl’s head. But there is one split second when Burl leaned toward me to make a point, and you can barely make him out.
One’s youth can be so elusive. It’s tough to recapture.
It’s the only photographic evidence that we knew each other, all those years ago. Burl noted last night it was sort of our version of the Zapruder film. This would be extremely difficult for today’s 17-year-olds to imagine, as they text out pictures, and HD video, of themselves with their friends on an hourly basis, if not more often.
Here’s hoping it’s not another 45 years before we meet again.