Iowa Writes

BRUCE MOORE
Aging's Dreaded Symptom


Sitting at the fifty-plus year old massive oak desk that had survived several "antiquing " face-lifts, I was determined to get serious about writing. I lifted a thirty-pound, musty-smelling cardboard box off the desk's top and noticed "Bruce's Yearbooks" printed in Magic Marker on the side. Thinking these books would give an academic, library-like mood to my writing area, I started to unpack and chronologically arrange them on the bowed fiberboard bookshelves.

Midway through the unpacking, I found myself holding the 1964 yearbook. What's so unique about the year before I graduated? "C'mon, you know what you're looking for," my subconscious chided. I let the glossy black-and-white pages flip through my thumb and forefinger: Sports, Band, Underclassmen, the Class of 1964. I skimmed the youthful pictures. Mapes, McDonald, Meeks, MORFORD, JANE MARIE MORFORD.

Mesmerized, I stared at her photo. Jane stared back at me with her dark brown, penetrating eyes, ever so slightly grinning with that sexy but wholesome smile. She seemed to whisper, "Bruce, remember those wonderful years at Earlham High? I'll never forget how excited I was when you invited me to Des Moines to see Peter, Paul and Mary or the trips to Noah's Ark for pizza and then across the street to catch a movie at the Capri on Ingersol."

For forty years, I had avoided reminiscing because that's what "old people" did. Now, with three of Betsy's and my four children married and the last graduating from college this year, I find myself in the basement surrounded by long-since stored Lego vehicles, Indian Guide headbands, 4-H trophies, and Holly Hobby dollhouses, daydreaming about my high school sweetheart.

Sitting at the fifty-plus year old massive oak desk that had survived several "antiquing " face-lifts, I was determined to get serious about writing. I lifted a thirty-pound, musty-smelling cardboard box off the desk's top and noticed "Bruce's Yearbooks" printed in Magic Marker on the side. Thinking these books would give an academic, library-like mood to my writing area, I started to unpack and chronologically arrange them on the bowed fiberboard bookshelves.

Midway through the unpacking, I found myself holding the 1964 yearbook. What's so unique about the year before I graduated? "C'mon, you know what you're looking for," my subconscious chided. I let the glossy black-and-white pages flip through my thumb and forefinger: Sports, Band, Underclassmen, the Class of 1964. I skimmed the youthful pictures. Mapes, McDonald, Meeks, MORFORD, JANE MARIE MORFORD.

Mesmerized, I stared at her photo. Jane stared back at me with her dark brown, penetrating eyes, ever so slightly grinning with that sexy but wholesome smile. She seemed to whisper, "Bruce, remember those wonderful years at Earlham High? I'll never forget how excited I was when you invited me to Des Moines to see Peter, Paul and Mary or the trips to Noah's Ark for pizza and then across the street to catch a movie at the Capri on Ingersol."

For forty years, I had avoided reminiscing because that's what "old people" did. Now, with three of Betsy's and my four children married and the last graduating from college this year, I find myself in the basement surrounded by long-since stored Lego vehicles, Indian Guide headbands, 4-H trophies, and Holly Hobby dollhouses, daydreaming about my high school sweetheart.

I continue staring at the photo of Jane Morford. My thoughts drift to that day in the school's furnace room when she and I changed from casual acquaintances to very much in love young adults: D.J. Vaughn and I had come to the room to remind our janitors that the cinder track had to be dragged for the Earlham vs. Adel track meet the following day. Suddenly, they were paged to report to the third floor boy's restroom because someone had flushed a cherry bomb down the stool and separated it from the floor. Water was dripping through the ceiling onto Mrs. Knapp's "World of Bookmarks" display in the second floor library. The janitors authorized D.J. and me to stay in their private "office" as long as we liked. As D.J. lounged in the metal-framed cot covered with an old army mattress and I did the same in a Goodwill non-functioning recliner, the warm, early spring sun shone through the wire-meshed security windows. The
usually chilly room with its ever-present fuel oil odor had a cheery, clubhouse feel. Slowly, the metal fire door at the top of the landing creaked open.

"Ah, there you are. The cooks told me I could find you here," Jane said.

"Hi," D.J. and I said in unison.

"You guys look so surprised, what's the matter?" she said.

"Jane," I cajoled her, "normally, women aren't even told about this secret room, let alone allowed to enter its sacred confines."

"Ha, ha," she grimaced.

She descended the metal steps and marched over to me and in a business-like tone said, "Bruce, would you like to come to the Junior-Senior Prom with me?"

I starred at D.J. as if seeking his approval. "Sure, thanks for asking me," I stammered, trying desperately to appear cool and not like a fifteen-year-old freshman accepting an upperclassman's invitation to the biggest event of the school year.

Her mission accomplished, Jane said "great" and exited as she had entered—with the confidence that only a junior could exhibit under these pressure-cooker conditions.

"You stud," exclaimed D.J. "Hitting on an upperclass babe-o-licious—you're the baddest of the bad!"

I had come to the corner of the basement an hour ago to organize a quiet place in which to write. I had not expected to succumb to one of the dreaded symptoms of aging—reminiscing. I shut the yearbook.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


BRUCE MOORE

Bruce Moore is a 1970 University of Iowa graduate and lives in Geneseo, Illinois, with his wife of thirty-eight years, Betsy (also a U of I grad). They have four grown children and five grandchildren.

This page was first displayed
on June 02, 2007

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