Bloomington High School SouthClass Of 1989
DARA WATKINS Query
LISA DECKARD Bell
Jeremy, Jeremy. Where to start, buddy?
We lived about three blocks from each other. Close to Bryan Park. We were pretty good friends for many of those elementary school years at Elm Heights, but like a lot of us from our neighborhood near campus, we grew apart over time. Middle school farther. High school farther. And I left the country and had not seen you since. I can't remember how I found out you had passed away. But I wanted to tell you something that had been weighing on me. Perhaps now is my chance.
We had a cool circle of friends in the late 70s, early 80s: Jake Smith, Pat Lumbley, Thomas Matthew, David Backler, Paul Lowengrub, Evan Thomas, Pete Hoff, Michael Chapman and a few girls like Marnie Ward and Dalia Rosenfeld. And there were our friends on the other side of the park, Chris and Frank, and our friends from the country who ended up going to University and North: Mike Martin, Andy Hamilton, Danny Baugh...
A few people came and went like Dan Halpern, Jonathan Murray, Phillip Rogers; new additions like Ross Dinnsen (new and old), Seth Berry, Sammy Cohen, Leslie Cohen, Leora Baude, Molly Gleeson and Jason Vincz. And if I left any out please forgive me. Leanne Coons lived right by us until they moved to another part of town. Maybe around 4th grade?
So Jeremy, you introduced me to some rock music, especially the Who. I know Pete Townsend and Roger Daultry to this day because of you. And Boris the Spider. Creep... crawly, creepy... crawly. The Who has some great music.
It was hard being friends with you. Looking back, it was a little bit like you had some extra demons to fight that us other neighborhood guys didn't have as much. It was hard to understand.
I remember learning about your father's passing, and thinking that it was a tough place to be in as his son, trying to empathize with your situation and life as your father was gone. I honestly don't know much about your relationship with him, but from what I recall it may have been tough. I saw your mom at home a lot more, but usually you had the run of the house solo, and your sister would go on extended trips for health reasons. I think life was lonely at your house. And you always had friends to move on to. But some of us old ones weren't around. Maybe Thomas or others stayed close over time, as adults. But most of us went separate ways, as I understand.
And then when it came to friendship with us original guys, like Pete and Jake and Pat and others, it would seem to fizzle and go wrong. Elementary school years. Something was wrong, and then in 6th grade or so I participated in one of the more shameful experiences in my life and we made fun of you, like mean social bullies. And we had been your friends. I'm sorry about that.
When I went on my religious mission to South America not long after high school, I remember being far from home with distance to think back on my childhood, and I remember wanting to apologize to you for being that mean, or snobby, or a jerk. Sorry, man. And I didn't send a letter, either, which could have done some good, maybe, at least from my side.
I am sorry I said bad things about you. I was not as mature or loving as I thought I was, what my faith and family raised me to be. I remember my sister or sisters both (Jenny BHSS '87) and Monique (BHSS '85) coming down on me for sharing in the teasing in middle school, which was more verbal bullying than simple good natured teasing. We were bullies in that respect. I wanted to tell you that back in 1990, in Mulchen, Chile, when I had some time with my conscience,and I still want to tell you that now. Sorry for being a mean snob.
And again, as I wrote recently for another South classmate that has passed on, I do believe you are still going. Just not with the rest of us right now. And I hope that where you are, you can get messages or updates that people still think of you, appreciate you for who you were in Bloomington, and I, for one, appreciate having known you.
And again, I felt guilty for maligning your name. I think by high school we all had overcome that, but some lessons like that one stick for a long time. Guilt is a strange companion. And I do look forward to catching up with you some day in the heavens. I think there is a good Rock 'n Roll there, at least Daultry and Townsend. Thanks for being part of my life and being in our Elm Heghts circle of friends.
Peace, bro. God bless you.
A little addendum to Jeremy's letter, as I just corrected a couple things like putting Phillip Rogers instead of how I had it wrong before.
Many of us knew friends and acquaintances at Bloomington North, as I alluded to in my Elm Heights days reagarding Jeremy Houston, and I know this section is for Jeremy's part, but I wanted to add something about BHS North Alum Bobby Pettay, who passed away in 2001. I think he graduated in 1990, or maybe '89 like us if he was precocious. I lost a bit of contact when I went away to South America for two years, and then a year after returning home in 1992 I was accepted to go to school out west and I left the state for another five years. We almost caught up in 2001, but allow me to explain...
Bobby and I knew each other from childhood in church, our mothers were friends, later through Boy Scouts, and later social contacts, many of whom were interested in music. Rock music.
Bobby loved music, He was a gifted drummer and participated in bands in the Bloomington rock scene. Back in the 1980s he was a huge fan of Stryper, which was a popular Christian Rock band, kind of heavy ("To hell with the Devil!"), and they had limited exposure and videos on the television, like MTV. Mostly a niche group, but they did pretty well with a nuanced audience. Bobby would travel to see them play in Saint Louis, Chicago, Indy, wherever. Bobby, later as an adult calling himself Robert, had personal pictures with the members of Stryper and he was a friend of theirs, by all accounts. All of this he accomplished when he was a high school student. Pretty outgoing of him, really. Bobby was unique, back then with bright strawberry blonde (red) hair, but then becoming more hard rock blonde, of the bleached variety. He would stand out. He was flamboyant, you might say.
And I should add that Bobby had two half-sisters through his father that he did not live with, in Bloomington, and that father was advertised as a lawyer all over town. So the last name Pettay might be known to a few of you because of that.
While I was in Chile, 1990-91, Bobby/Robert got married to a nice young lady and they had a child. I missed the wedding but they said he was dressed as a midevil knight (think Heath Ledger in that jousting movie), and his bride as a Renaissance woman. Bobby had a flair for the different, you might say.
They eventually moved to Arizona, maybe Tuscon, where Robert worked with a pharmaceutical company. That is where his interest in writing and film blossomed. He became so engrossed in writing and screen plays for film that I guess it caused some separation with his wife, and he eventually left her and his child in Arizona, being divorced, and moved to Los Angeles.
I had moved to San Bernardino, a city only an hour east of LA in 1999, so Robert and I talked on the phone a few times before he moved to California. Then he eventually came to LA, I think in the spring/summer of 2001. I had been accepted to UCLA to start in September (yes, that September after Tuesday the 11th), and I looked forward to getting together with Robert and having him over at my new place with my new wife and our new baby. It would be cool to catch up with an old friend from Indiana and eat some meals together, and talk film.
A few years of my life I thought that film was my destiny, too.
But this plan did not work out, because Robert was found in his apartment, not too many miles north of where I would be studying, all by himself, lifeless. They think his body might have been there about 5 days before being discovered.
The cause? Overdose.
But it is still hard to say if it was planned, and I have my doubts. Bobby was a little overweight as a kid, nothing to the point of obesity, but I think it affected him, his self-esteem.
But by the time he was 17-18, Bobby was a thin, normal, active dude. He was always energetic and strong. It is possible, and I have talked this over with his mother, Ellen, that Robert might have been suffering anorexia, because his body was very, very thin when found in that apartment by the authorities.
So, it was a self-medicated dose that killed him, but as we understand anorexia nervosa, perhaps that was the real root. Can't be sure.
He was alone, as his mom has been quite a bit these last 12 years.
But he, like Jeremy Houston, another red-headed friend from my past, is still remembered.
One last side-note about Bloomington North: I went to their 1994 five year reunion when April Ault was the person in charge of it. I enjoyed that. I saw some Elm Heights people that I knew from little, and a few I knew from a play I did there as a senior, with a couple other South students like Molly Goobar.
I missed our 1999 ten year for South and the 2009 twenty year as well, both because of work and distance, but maybe it could work out in 2014?
I hope to see a few of you there. Thanks, again, for letting us have this forum to remember and memorialize our Bloomington friends.
And Bobby (Robert), like that seven page memorial that I gave to your mother as shared memories and impressions of you back in 2001, I will end this part by saying:
"We'll see you in the stars."
Love ya, bro.
(PS: Me writing these is a combination of two things: I like to recall things and write them down, and I am also very far from my family right now. Thanks again for permitting this site to share.)
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