We challenged James Pannabecker to create a column for the Icon that mentions the names of 20 Bluffton residents. He met the challenge. Here is the result. You may find other columns by him on his blog.
By James Pannabecker
Two weeks with Wanda Pannabecker, who proved on 5 occasions that one plus one equal three (Phil, John, James, Tom, and Mary), drove me back to sites of my youth.
My first night in her guest room dreamed me to the now defunct Bluffton A&P, where Don LaRoche, manager, hired me at 16. By the time I was booted out of town 40 years ago, I thought I knew everyone, including Phyllis Diller, whose husband offered me my only tip for carrying out groceries when she returned to have Dr. Travis "remove an old key." That's beside the point.
In my dream, Marie Snyder and I discussed why the store didn't have a problem with shoplifters (not that we encouraged them). I suggested that a small town atmosphere helps people feel more responsible, as significant members of a community.
Just before I awoke, Helen Stratton appeared, clear as a bell, at her cash register in aisle number one. Perhaps this dream was prompted by our stop at the Community Market (formerly Joe Urich's IGA), where Mother introduced me to Tracy Sawatsky, a fellow pianist, whose husband, David, teaches voice at Bluffton University.
This morning, 7 a.m. (and I'm supposed to be on vacation), found me at a First Mennonite prayer breakfast led by Louise Wideman (Canadians seem to be invading the town).
We shared a table with today's version of Mr. Powell (Raymie), Larry Diller, who managed to attend only because fog had delayed his Columbus Grove school bus route by 2 hours. Jeff Boehr mentioned that while he was touring with college students his water heater blew, making him late to work yesterday.
Speaking of our favorite bus driver, Mr. Powell, when we ate lunch at Jeanne Privite's restaurant, my sister pointed out his daughter-in-law, a former classmate of mine, Peggy Gossard (Powell). I should have said hello. (Hello.)
This wannabe farmer and former employee of Russ and Gene Suter heard an intriguing report that their successors, Jerry and Tom Suter, now grow 17 varieties of sweet corn, which they can identify by ear examination (listening?) but not by taste after cooking.
"Stop," says Virginia. "You've passed 20 and bored me long enough."
"But I'm on a roll," I say. "I don' want to offend people like Neil and Eileen Kehler, Elaine Rich, Burton and Elnore Yost...."
"I said stop," says Virginia. "You're rolling in the mud."
OK, but let me at least thank Jean Szabo for turning me on to Schumann.