seeking relevance……………..

The Class of “58” have reached the age of becoming irrelevant. Living in Florida, we tend to feel right at home because most of the others you see in Publix or at the Post Office are in the same boat. Lately I have fought the onset of irrelevance by pursuing tiny projects with both zeal and frugality. I am writing to you, my Classmates, to bring you up to date on the last totally unimportant task I have undertaken and, most notably, how little it cost me to do so! All of you do things just like this on a day-to-day basis but have the good taste not to bore me by filling Ruthie’s website with written accounts of the details. As you are all aware……I’m not handicapped by good taste.
My latest project had its Geneses at our reunion last year. Jimmy Harrison had presented each of the attendees with a fantastic PBHS commemorative coin and, as we were leaving on Sunday morning, he approached me asking if I knew of anyone who could not be at the reunion but “would like to have a coin”? He had a few extra and put 4 of them in my hand. Last summer I gave 2 of them to Classmates I see regularly but the remaining pair were relegated to the console in my Toyota. In the back of my mind I knew what I wanted to do with one of them but just never got around to it.

A few months ago I was with Max Gelders visiting Billy Wilkinson and his wife Karen in Marathon. While seated in his real estate office, Max asked Billy if he could “have one of your business cards?” At the moment, the fact that Max took the card and spent a prolonged period of time gazing at it did not attract my attention. What was noteworthy was what happened later that evening. We had gone with the Wilkinsons to a restaurant for an early dinner and were driving the rental car back toward Homestead when I noticed that Max had taken Billy’s ReMax card from his shirt pocket and was gently holding it in the palm of his hand. Max is never quiet, he talks all the time, but with the card in his hand there was total silence. “Mesmerized” is the only word that comes to mind – Max had a new keepsake in life. I smiled as it dawned on me that; longtime residents of nursing homes aren’t ever handed business cards and probably go the last years of their lives without ever seeing one. When we got back to Homestead Manor, Max rushed in to tell his nurses where he had been and, most important of all, show them his new 2″ by 3 1/2″ paper treasure.
Back home, it was time to take one of the coins and do something with it! I not only decided to send one to Max; I would get his name engraved on it like some of my Classmates had done for others. Wow! something to do – now where to go?
Who does engraving?
Jewelers do engraving!
That’s it – I’ll go to a jewelry shop – but which one?
Just then the TV gave me the answer – “He went to Jareds!” So off I went to the “Galleria of Jewelry”!
Ten miles away, I parked the car in front of a Fort Knox like building with 2 inch thick bullet-proof glass doors and walked in with my PBHS coin in hand. As I entered, a middle aged attractive woman rushed over to greet me and asked if I’d “like a cup of coffee or, perhaps, a bottle of sparkling water”?
“No ma’am, I’m just here to see how much it’ll cost me to get a name engraved on a coin.”
“Oh! okay – come right into my office and we’ll see how we can help you. First let’s just fill out a little paper work.”
Twenty minutes later, we had filled out two customer information forms. I had given her my name, address, phone and e-mail, wife’s first name etc. and chosen an engraving style from a silver selector plate she had on a chain around her neck. I was getting a little concerned. Standing up, I said:
“Lady, all I want is a dollar figure and somewhere along the line you’re going to give me one – how much?”
“Oh! it’ll be $59.90 and you can pick it up on Wednesday.”
“I don’t think so…..” and I left the store.
My wife just shook her head when she heard the story. “You’re just ‘CHEAP’ that’s all. How do you know that wasn’t a good price?” You have to realize that my wonderful wife, Dianne, is the consummate “comparison shopper”! When she sees something in a jewelry, clothing, or department store – she compares it with what she already has and, if she likes it better, she buys it!
But getting back to my search for relevance; I’ve spent the last few weeks researching a new approach and I’m proud to be able to report a successful conclusion. Yesterday I had planned to drive down to West Palm Beach and JC Martin Jewelers on Forest Hill Blvd was not far out of my way. The young gentleman on the phone had agreed to charge me $22.00 for a simple engraving on a flat metallic surface and assured me it could be done while I waited. But the story only gets better (or worse if you’re already having a hard time staying awake reading this narrative). While waiting, I struck up a conversation with one of the employees and told him about Max and his situation as well as a great deal about the PBHS Class of 1958 and directed him to Connie Berry’s website. What pops up but a full, two sided, picture of the very commemorative coin he is working on!
Looking at me, he asked: “How many people got these coins?”
He had seen all the photos of our reunion and, what appeared to be hundreds of frolicking rich old farts acting like teenagers. When I just looked at him and said:
“Everyone that was there and most of the ones that weren’t. There has never, in history, been more kids packed into a single three-grade school in Palm Beach County and there never will be again. A lot of them still live around here and have breakfast every Thursday morning about a quarter mile down the road.”
His eyes lit up and he disappeared around the corner!
After a half hour or so, the jeweler came out with his handy-work. He had, not only, engraved MAX GELDERS on the scroll of the coin but had filled in the letters with a matching maroon coloring. When I took out my wallet; he waved me off and said “no charge – I hope Max enjoys it and maybe you can tell the rest of the Class of ’58’ where we are.”
Leaving the store, no one in the parking lot would have mistaken me for a Captain of Industry or a Banking Baron. Let’s face it; no one pays any attention to us anymore but, at least for a moment, I felt like a big man on campus, like the employee of the month, like …………….well maybe not, …………. but, at least, I did have a little more spring in my step and I seemed to be standing a little straighter ……………………………………. is that relevant?

Jimmy Powell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s