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Friday, December 23, 2016

Bill Pekarski Day 115, Living life on my terms.


Day 115, Living life on my terms.

Bill Pekarski
Well, I am sad to say that nobody took me up on my offer for some coffee and a sample of pierogi yesterday. I did have one person, my cousin John, try to make it but other obligations got in his way. He is planning on stopping today so I can hook him up with a plate to take home.

Today, my wife and I will be heading out to a Christmas Party for Coudersport Sheetz employees. It is the first time they have tried to have a party and it should be a pretty good time. Who knows, maybe we can find a few brave souls to play a new game I received a few days ago.

A truly great friend sent me a game called “Cards Against Humanity.” I had never heard of the game before, but after reading the instructions, I find that it may appeal to my impish side.

The person who sent the game has been a friend of mine since way back when we first met at IUP back in 1990. Her name is Linda Voegler-Granite, and she is an elementary band teacher at North Allegany in the Pittsburgh area.

I would be hard pressed to find a college memory that did not involve Linda in some way. She was a trombone player in the marching band, majored on the clarinet, and also was a talented vocalist in the IUP Chorale.

Linda was a model low brass player in the marching band. She fit right in with our special sense of humor and was an active participant in just about all of our antics and shenanigans. She was also probably the most quoted female on our infamous wall of quotes back at our old apartment, 320 Carriage House. Decorum prevents me from listing many of the quotes here, but one involved never telling a girl her credit card is maxed out.

My roommate Jamie, who was actually dating Linda at the time, and I were the stage crew for her senior clarinet recital. She mentioned to us that toward the end of the recital she needed a little extra time to warm up a different clarinet for one of the pieces she would be performing. She wondered if there was something we could do to give her a little extra time. We came up with something.

Gorell recital hall is where most recitals are held. It is a beautifully constructed auditorium designed specifically for musical recitals. It has a large stage equipped with two-nine foot long grand pianos. When the pianos are not being used, they are pushed off to the side with a protective cover.

For Linda’s recital, she needed one piano for accompaniment, a chair for the page turner, and a stand for her music. When it came time for her to warm up her second clarinet, Jamie and I went to the stage and completely struck everything. I carried the chair and placed it behind a decorative blind on the left side of the stage. Jamie followed behind me with the music stand. Then I grabbed the cover for the piano. We carefully closed the lid on the piano, put the cover in place, smoothed it out and pushed the piano over to the left side of the stage where it was out of the way.

Now that the stage was empty, we walked over to the right side and Jamie grabbed another stand and I found another chair. We placed them exactly where the first ones were located. By the time we went back to the right side and uncovered the second piano, everyone in the audience was finally in on the joke that we were resetting the stage exactly the way it was when we started. I remember taking a look behind the center blind where Linda had been warming up her instrument and her face was beet red due to her laughter.

Linda’s parents, who were always extremely proud of their daughter, were in attendance at the concert. In fact, they were regular attendants at all our concerts and performances. They were some of the greatest people I ever met. Her father, whom she called Pookie, had been a firefighter for many years. That night, he was wearing a Maltese Cross of St. Florian pin as a tie tack. When I complimented him on the tie tack, he said Linda told him I was a fireman as well. He gave me that tie tack right then and there. I still have and treasure it to this day.

A couple of years ago, Pookie unfortunately passed away. I felt it was only proper that I drive down and at least attend his viewing. Linda was so surprised to see me there that I think it might have even brought a slight tear to her eye as well as mine.

Linda has always been very important to me. One of her first jobs after college was teaching instrumental music at Port Allegany high school. This was great because she was so close. Unfortunately, we could not get together as much as I would have liked, but we always stayed in touch. I even went down to help her with her band camp in the summer.

After a couple of years, she accepted a job that brought her closer to her home. It was a great opportunity and you could not blame her for leaving. She was however greatly missed by the people of Port Allegany. Sometime soon after, she met and married her husband, Evan Granite and together they are raising two beautiful daughters.

Another reason I had to attend the service for her father was that while I was laid up in Pittsburgh following my spinal surgery, Linda was the only person, beside my niece, that came to the hospital to visit me. She was there to witness the first time I stood and walked in over six weeks. I did not look my best, but she did not care, and I was thankful to have her there. Like I said, she is a true friend.

I was reminded the other day about another fond memory of Linda that I had forgotten. It happened during the Chorale tour in 1991 to Toronto. Someone had started a rumor on the bus that you were not allowed to carry more than a liter of liquor across the border into Canada. For this reason, several bottles needed to be drained in the back of the bus. Believe me, by the time we arrived at the border station, everyone in the back of the bus was, well, let’s just say happy.

I can still picture Linda with a glazed look and smile on her face, tightly clinching her driver’s license in her hands; ready to be inspected if necessary. Border Patrol barely even looked at the bus, we were welcomed into Canada. Everyone started singing one of our songs substituting one of the lines with the phrase; “we have less than a liter left, we have less than a liter left…” and so on. I hope Linda doesn’t mind me telling that story as her daughters may read this. Sorry!

Today I am dedicating my progress to Mrs. Linda Voegler-Granite. I want to wish her and her family a Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

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