Somebody must be your friend! But who? How many friends have come and gone in my life so far? How many more will I have? Better questions: Will I be considered "a friend" to anyone? Will I still have time to make more? How can I do that? Can I conceiveably be "a friend" to someone I've had to be "a parent" to? Are there ever "parental friends"? ie. they take care of each other throughout life. Is it even possible this could be done "anonymously"? That is the topic of a surprise article in the L.A. Times Sports Section today.
Yes, we knew Jim Sterkel. My wife knew him and his family better because they went to her church. Upon seeing this article, she immediately went to her scrapbook and pulled out pictures of their wedding party. Now which one would be the "anonymous millionaire"? After we moved to Claremont and "shamefully" left the "Downtown Church" we lost track of many of the notables there. We did keep up with the "fame" of the Sterkel Family. ie. Joanne and Jim's daughter Jill and her "Gold Metal" in Olympic Swimming. We were always amazed at their dedication and athletic ability. The senior Sterkels were more the friends of my wife's mother. She was quite a "sports fan" and a loyal "Trojan Supporter". However, we always thought that Joanne and Jim were UCLA fans. Little did we know of his former attendance at USC and his brief athletic career there. Wow!
Now, his name is on the new basketball floor at the New Galen Sports Facility and because he was a "good friend" and co-alumni there. What a story of loyalty to a place where "friendships" can start. I remember the old gym/basketball court at SC. I took a class on it when I was getting my teaching credential there back in '62-'63. It was old and drafty then. I can't remember any actual skills or techniques I learned there nor do I remember any "friends" that I made. I was a commuter grad students on the "Ford Foundation" getting my credential after my military service. I also rembember that in that building I learned how to thread and rewind a 16mm film projector which was a "requirement" for new teachers then. (my career ended with video tapes on VCR's in the classroom...nope not DVD's) The last time I found myself on the SC campus I walked right passed Coach Robinson and he waved and said,"Hi". I have taken classrooms on field trips to the Exposition Park Museums across the street there and even brought some of them to see "Tommy Trojan" in the quad. I toured the place with my third son hoping that he might go there someday.
What is even more interesting is that his surviving family didn't even know of this "anonymous gift" in his honor. His daughter was moved and said, "My dad was never famous, he never cared about that. He was just a good guy and a great parent." His wife wept and said, almost in disbelief, "He was such a good husband, such a good man, but do people really notice those things anymore?" Maybe they do...anonymously. Too bad it took ten years after his death for this to all come out and still remain "anonymous".
We seem to be so quick at letting others know what we don't like and who we are critical of but we keep our friendship making acts and comments to ourselves. Is it just a "sign of our times"? I can certainly understand why "Sherman, a cartoon shark" doesn't seem to have any "friends". Just like in "Finding Nemo"..."fish are our friends". Some of us have this "annoying habit" of "devouring our potential friends" and/or turning them away before we do. What a shame. Bob!