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Remember Jim Croce?

by Katie Butler Johnson

He was a singer/songwriter who composed a string of hits in the 1970’s. He gave us songs like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “I’ll have To Say I Love You In A Song” and “Time In A Bottle.” That last one held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks strait, and, after I heard it played recently as a “Golden Oldie,” it’s been wondering around in my head reminding me how quickly time passes.

Like many of you, I’m vaccinated, boosted for Covid and eager to do things I missed because of the pandemic. My first attempt at getting out there was to tip-toe into travel. I booked a direct AA flight and reserved an Alamo rental car to visit my brother in Iowa. Although we’d met on Zoom, I hadn’t seen him in person for several years. While sequestering, I went from my late 70’s into my early 80’s and had concerns I might not have the stamina for traveling solo. I did and I do! I encountered zero problems with parking at the DFW, delayed/canceled flights or shortage of rental cars. It was an easy trip.

Several weeks later, I made a longer trip, one to the East Coast. My Manhattanville College roommate, Ann, had called suggesting we both attend our 60th Reunion. This would be the first time back for both of us - neither had been on campus since graduation.

When we were students there, Manhattanville was a small Catholic women’s college boasting a challenging liberal arts program and a number of Kennedy family member graduates: Rose, Ethel, Eunice, Jean and Joan. Today the college is secular, co-ed and nearly double in enrollment. Men are ubiquitous on campus, and, there’s nary a nun in sight- the presence of whom kept us in check back in the day. The College had to make big changes to survive in today’s academic world. Instead of closing its doors as many did, it adjusted its mission. Today, profits from it’s enhanced nursing school program is helping keep the legacy liberal arts departments afloat.

While in the area, I wanted to see if I could find our old hangout – Cobblestones. I wondered if it had been plowed under to make way for progress. After all, it was essentially a bar sitting on a chunk of pretty pricy real estate. Back in the day, we used to go there on dates, get a bite to eat and dance to juke box tunes till curfew.

I found it! Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again - if by home you mean visit your old haunts. Granted Cobblestones is not like it was in its prime, but then neither am I. I met the owner’s son as I walked in the door. He looked like a sumo wrestler. When I told him I’d skipped my reunion’s welcome reception to make a pilgrimage to Cobblestones, he filled me in on what had happened to “our” Cobblestones over the past 60 years. It’s morphed from being a bar with limited food choices but a great jukebox for dancing into a neighborhood restaurant with a bar. They expanded the food menu, ditched the Jukebox and hung “No Dancing” signs on the wall!

Since May 2022, I’ve made my way to and around both Iowa and New York (and up to Connecticut for a pre-reunion visit with my sister Molly) with my Iphone GPS. It takes the stress out of driving when Siri’s the navigator. Now I feel confident enough that, if you drop me off somewhere in the US and I have my Iphone, my driver’s license and a credit card, I could get home. I’m taking all three with me when I head out to join my daughter in Taos this week.

I know I’ve lived more yesterdays than I’ll ever have tomorrows. Time is a very precious commodity. I don’t want any more of mine to just slip by. I want to “Carpe Diem” each today that comes my way!

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