the "memory board" at the class reunion included pictures and dates of deceased classmates. apart from Diane Warner, another picture caught my eye. Jim Gray died in 2004. he was another of the small circle of social miscreants I befriended.
Jim was mostly outcast because of his weight. his elephantine physique conspired to keep Jim out of most social functions, so he stayed to himself. we shared a couple of classes. I liked his quiet humor and we became friends. Jim had very few friends, but his best friend was Mike Patrick, a fellow "Class of '67" graduate and older brother to Sharon Patrick.
both Mike and Sharon Patrick were shy soft-spoken kids. both were gifted, good-looking, and athletic. Sharon had amazing eyes which only fed her elusive manner. she was truly a "strange little girl". sometimes quiet, sometimes bubbly. the Patricks lived in a nearby subdivision close enough for me to walk to after school. I spent many afternoons at Sharon's house. more than once I would arrive to find her nursing a sick baby raccoon or saving a bird fallen from its nest. she loved animals and nature just as I did. we were never an "item" but we were close friends. Sharon Patrick was the self-appointed President of The Denims Fan Club and rarely missed a show.
her brother Mike Patrick was an athlete. I seem to remember him being in track and also pole vaulting. who decides to be a pole vaulter? I admired Mike's physical ability almost as much as Jim Gray did.
one night Jim and Mike were riding in a car near Mike's neighborhood when they happened upon a car wreck. they were the first on the scene of the crash. being good kids they tried to help before the police arrived. there was a power line down across the road. Mike feared it might be dangerous for passing motorists. he tried to move the power line. if Jim hadn't somehow pulled Mike off the power line Mike would have been killed. as it was, both his arms were burnt off.
as if the perfect example of life's most ironic cruelty were needed, a super-nice soft-spoken bright athletic young man lost both his arms just trying to be helpful.
The Denims eventually raised $5,000 for Mike's battle and our whole school joined together in support. I have never seen Mike Patrick again and have lost contact with Sharon as well. but sometimes I re-live the horror.