For A Friend from Childhood

 

Happy Hump Day, All!

Waking up in Paris today, I am enjoying pretty much the “last leg” of my birthday tour!  Imagine that … I was able to get to visit several countries … cities in them in a little less than 2 months.  I had “a little help from my friends” … in my Joe Cocker voice!  Some folks have asked me if I am moving here … to Europe … some are “telling” me that that is what I said that I was going to do!  Others are even suggesting that I do move to Europe … it would be Spain if anywhere … and there are still others who remain in disbelief that I did this in the first place!  “Things look different from the street than they do from the inside!”  It’s my new expression!

Everybody has a “take” on what you are doing and how you are going to do it … purely spectator sport for them.  Yet it is “YOU” who must figure it out … and endure the “long haul”.  It is usually in my character to apologize if I “mis-read” or misunderstood someone.  Some folks don’t care and continue with their same old stubborn mis-perceptions of “people, places and things”!  I can’t do that, personally.  I have to come to grips with MYSELF on what I think before I can move forward effectively.  Just a side note for those who are wondering what I will do now . . .

As I traveled a bit through Paris, I did what I could do.  For example, I didn’t enter the Louvre as I did in some museums in Barcelona and Valencia, which were free.  I don’t try to impress people with how fine my clothes are (I do have some, now!) nor how much money I spend on lunch.  In fact, I am quite the “budgeter”, quite thrifty even, which is why I stayed in hostels for much of my trip.  It is a lifestyle unto itself … meeting other people, sharing a restroom and common area in most cases.  You really have to be able to get along with “other” folks from “other” countries and cultures.  Believe me, many of the people I met have their own takes on … as well as ignorance … of our America …. hmmppfff!  I have had two young South Korean female room mates while here as well as a few males from Canada, Argentina and even one young guy from Kyrgyzstan and a young lady from Japan!  We sat last night and enjoyed a bottle of wine I had picked up for 2 Euro at a local market along with some potato chips and chatted about “terrorism” in Europe and the USA as well as how we as individuals might perceive it and handle it!  Quite enlightening indeed!

So last night when I laid down, I thought of all my friends who helped to make this trip possible …  Suddenly, it came to mind one friend of mine who is deceased – Robert Aurelius Hipp … He died from brain cancer shortly after he had graduated from the University of Wisconsin and worked for General Foods corporate headquarters there in White Plains, NY … our hometown.  We were such “homies”, in fact, that we both had grown up in the Winbrook Projects … even in the same building.  His dad and my dad were friends … His brothers, the twins – Charles and Carl – were friends with my brother “Hank” (RIP) and my sister Edna!  His mother, Gertrude (RIP), was friends with my mother … There were two other sisters in his family, Mary and Pat, the first a little older than me and the other my sister Barbara’s age (RIP)!  “Bobby” and I both got scholarships to attend St. Paul’s in New Hampshire through the efforts of the Urban League of Westchester and our high school assistant principal, Daniel Woodard (an African American ex-pro football player who took a special interest in the kids from “da hood”!)  “Bobby” studied French while I studied Spanish in what was then “Junior High School”.  His passing was untimely and I will remember him forever …  I was at his funeral.  Memories of him came back to me when I dozed off to sleep here in Paris last night, amongst the chatter of the people in the park just outside of the hotel and hostel as well as some of the homeless people who encountered an unusually cool night, after a very warm day.  Things look different from the street than they do from the inside …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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