Wednesday, June 25, 2008

RIP, Noelle His

I didn't know Noelle His, but I knew who she was. As a member of the Alamo Heights High School Class of 1978, she was a year ahead of me. On June 1, 1978, she was very likely with her class at their graduation ceremonies in an auditorium at Trinity University -- an event marked by silly string, confetti, and other very visible items of youthful celebration, all of which I saw as a member of the audience. Early in the morning of June 25, 1978, Noelle and a young man named Kevin (I think), who was recently a freshman at (I think) Texas A&M, died in a car accident.

On the evening of Saturday the 24th, I went to a back yard party at the Olmos Park house of another Kevin -- not the fellow who died -- a Kevin who was also a member of the Class of '78, and who until recently had been first chair baritone horn player in band, and thus my section leader. We didn't socialize all that much, actually, and it was the only time I ever recall being at his house.

At this distance, I remember very little about what went on, but it was a sedate event, the kind of party that mostly involves sitting around someone's back yard and talking about nothing in particular. The novelty of that yard was the device, hanging from a post or tree, that zapped mosquitoes: a glowing, electrified no-pest strip, new to the market at the time. I was probably home by midnight that night.

I don't know the details of the accident, but I know that it was in the wee hours of Sunday; at a railroad crossing on the North Side of San Antonio that I knew well, and had crossed many times myself, both as a passenger and a driver; and that it wasn't far from where I had been earlier in the evening.

On Monday, Jamison mentioned the accident. That summer, I took Government as a summer school class in the mornings, and the teacher was a man named Ted Jamison. Dr. Ted Jamison. What a PhD was doing teaching a summer high school class, I do not know, but he did. He was, in fact, one of the best teachers I ever had, for all of about five weeks in '78, but that could well be another posting someday.

Jamison, about as old then as I am now, was visibly moved by the news. "So young," was one of the things he said. I appreciate that sentiment a lot more now than at the time, of course, and doubly so as the father of daughters.



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