Last July, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate the life of Ric Clarke in the garden of Roosevelt Inn. It was a lovely, memory-filled morning of reminiscing and reconnecting. A conversation with Barb Benner Everson that day made a lasting impact. When I first encountered Barb in 1965, she was a ninth-grader at Coeur d’Alene Junior High School on Seventh Street. She was beautiful, smart, kind and a cheerleader. She was without question the most popular girl in school. It was the fall of 1965 and I was a new student, starting the eighth grade in a new school in a new town. Coeur d’Alene had a population of about 10,000 and new students were a bit of a rarity. I spent that first year trying to assimilate and did make some dear friends who are still in my life.
The next year, Barb and her classmates moved on to the 10th grade at the high school and our class was now the freshmen. I tried out for cheerleader and was over the moon, not only to be chosen but specifically to the role of “mascot” which Barb had been. The mascot was not a costumed character in those days, it meant that a designated cheerleader wore a cute little fringed skirt and top for the Coeur d’Alene Indians and led the cheers. I was so honored to be wearing the same uniform that my role model Barb Benner had worn! It was a wonderful year with fellow cheerleaders Wendy Fullwiler, Faye Griffiths, Lana Johnson and Polly Wilbur.
Flash forward 53 years to 2018 and a chance meeting with Barb in a social setting, both of us in our late 60s now. Barb said that she still remembered when I arrived at the junior high school and that everyone thought I was so “cool.” I was dumbfounded. When I replied that the experience was really hard for me she asked if it was because I had moved from California to a little hick town in Idaho. “Not that at all, I loved Coeur d’Alene,” I responded. “It was hard because all of you had known each other your whole lives and I envied those long connections.”
Then we both had a chuckle. I’m sure I never articulated to anyone back then how hard it was to be the new girl and I’m sure that no one articulated that they thought I was cool. It may or may not have made it easier since there is nothing easy about the junior high school years and the intensity of emotions that are the norm. I cannot imagine what kids today experience now that social media is thrown into the mix. But I do know that over a half century later hearing Barb Benner say she thought I was cool buoyed me beyond any rational explanation.
Barb and the CHS Class of 1969 will celebrate their 50th high school reunion next month. What those who are celebrating their 10th or 20th reunions might not realize just yet is how enduring and valued relationships and shared history become as the years go by. Our old Vikings from ’70 regularly gather to share a lot of laughs, not so much reveling in the glory days of athletic or academic prowess, or even wishing that cheerleader outfit still fit. We talk about current events, now grandchildren, retirement and some days have to laugh out loud at all of the “parts” stories ... which ones are falling apart or bionic. We’ve consoled each other at the loss of parents and the loss of fellow classmates.
It’s a bountiful blessing to still be surrounded by a village of Vikings in the journey of life. These are my people and I’m grateful.
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This week’s highlights: Tonight Downtown Farmer’s Market in Coeur d’Alene, 4 - 7 p.m.
Thursday night “Oklahoma!,” a production of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, opens at the Kroc Center and will run through July 28. www.cdasummertheatre.com
Also on Thursday, three free outdoor concerts ... Live After 5 at Tullamore Park in Post Falls, 5-8:30 p.m. with Kelly Hughes; Concert in the Park in Hayden, 6-8:30 p.m and Riverstone Summer Concert Series at Riverstone Park from 6-8 p.m.
Opening Friday night at Lake City Playhouse, “Bonnie and Clyde — A New Musical” at 7:30 p.m., runs through July 21. www.lakecityplayhouse.org
Jazz at the JACC on Friday at 7 p.m., Jacklin Arts and Culture Center, 405 N. William St., Post Falls.
Friday night Art Walk in downtown Coeur d’Alene also includes free admission to the Museum of North Idaho.
Post Falls Festival Days Friday through Sunday with live music, food and craft booths all three days at Q’emiln Park. Friday is free Movie in the Park showing “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” at dusk at Q’emiln Park. Parade Saturday at 10 a.m. on Seltice Way between Fredrick and Idaho streets.
Sunday from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., the Coeur d’Alene Garden Club’s Annual Garden Tour. Tickets available at local garden centers. www.cdagardenclub.com
Sunday evening Inland Northwest Opera presents Così fan tutte – Opera On The Lake Cruise, 7:30 -9:30 p.m. www.inlandnwopera.com
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Happy Birthday today to Jason Faulkner, Collin Coles, Ryan Starr, Amber Blanchette, Gene Gertson, Jan Ryan, Mike Stevens, Heather Wichman, Darren Olson, Pat Fuller and Michael Garrett. Tomorrow Betty Ann Henderson, Richard Jurvelin, Jeri Lee, Bill Graves, Scott Mote and Larry Wendt blow out the candles. On Friday BeBe Fletcher (95!), Jadd Davis, Cheri Burila, Emily Hodgson, Syafiq Fuller and Jim Welborn will hear the birthday song. On Saturday Renee Lusby, Ingrid Yates, Mark Daanen, Julia Koontz, Becky Rider, Kris Mans, Brooke Hayden, Shirley Jarrell (80!), Lisa Goodwin and Karen Applebee will mark their birthdays. Celebrating on Sunday are Bri Gilge, Dee Barnes, Kathleen Esquibel, John Lasher, Jim Lyons, Nancy Seright, Jaime Vanderpool and Dawnelle Garvey. On Monday Barbara Deckon, Logan Virgil, Kris Siebers, Katie Mans, Laurel Flerchinger, Loretta Lyon, Angela Olson, Andreas John, Julie Ingram, Marisa Buffaloe, Brian Bunch, Wayne Huckabee and Glen Collins take another trip around the sun. Sandi Morrison, Yvonne Smith, Marcy Clutter, Loretta Lyon, Angela Olson, Andreas John, Rich Doughty, Cindy Wiedmer, Patrick Ryan and Doug Jaworski celebrate on Tuesday.
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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.