Long Ago and Far Away

The class of 1962 was honored at my son’s graduation ceremony last week. Another, much smaller reunion occurred after the pomp and circumstance. A grammar school classmate of mine was also in the audience to see her son graduate. We arranged to meet and pose for a picture with our sons.

I’ve moved three times since high school: to Virginia, to California and to Tennessee. Mary Theresa McCombe and her family still live in the same New York suburb where we grew up, half-a-block apart. There were three kids in her family and three in mine. Our ages matched up closely enough that my two sisters each had one of Mary Theresa’s sisters as a classmate. She is active in the community and writes the alumni newsletter for the parish school.

The story of how we reconnected goes back to the boys’ freshman year. Here’s what Mary Theresa wrote for the Annunciation School newsletter at the time:

One example of an Annunciation connection that has been made on the Internet is the experience of a former member of the class of 1975, who now resides in Knoxville, TN. Frank, who joined Facebook on New Year’s Day, typed in the word “Annunciation” and was connected to a group of Annunciation graduates. He scrolled through the list of names looking for nobody in particular. What caught his eye was the college affiliation of one of its members, Ryan McCombe ‘04.
Recognizing Ryan’s last name, Frank sent off a quick email to a former classmate with the same name to see if they were related. Not only did he discover that Ryan McCombe was the son of Mary Theresa Gill ‘75, but he learned that Ryan was a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis. Frank was curious – what were the odds that Ryan knew his son, also named Frank, since both were freshman at the same university and both had a Crestwood connection? A few quick emails between Frank and his son and Mary Theresa and her son and it was clear – the boys had known each other since the start of school, having both been in a class and a study group together in the engineering school! Yet, the boys themselves did not even realize their Crestwood connection and never had reason to suspect that their parents had known each other as youngsters at Annunciation!

One year, Mary Theresa’s mother directed a play for the summer reading program at the Crestwood Library. Mary Theresa and one of her sisters were cast as kids who hid in the library overnight. During their stay, various literary characters came to life and visited them. As I recall, they included Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and maybe Heidi.  One of my sisters played Peter Pan and I played Dr. Dolittle. I’m pretty sure I got the part because I had a parrot puppet that could portray Polynesia.

Crestwood Library play with Frank as Dr. Doolittle The Herald Statesman published a picture of us in costume. The girl directly behind me is Kathryn Neville, who played the librarian. She went on to be an Assistant District Attorney in the South Bronx. More recently, she has retired from the law and taken up acting again. I learned in a recent edition of the alumni newsletter that she also got to be a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

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