Random Thoughts

An enduring friendship in Melrose

... remembering buddies from the '30s and '40s    

by Arthur H. Whitman

Roger Coleman and I were classmates in Melrose High School and graduated in the class of 1944. Roger had moved with his family from Harrisburg, PA to their new home on East Wyoming Avenue, just a block from Main Street.

It was wartime and during our high school years we found mutual interests in organized Emergency Service programs, and in our junior year, in the Radio Club. Perhaps the most significant decisions revolved around Scouting. We both took on leadership responsibilities but in different Melrose Troops. This training was to prove invaluable to both of us. At one point we each had serious aspiration about a career in professional Scouting. But it was not to be.

Four of us, who were good friends, went into the military. In 1944, graduating early, Roger joined the Army Air Corp, and a few days after graduation Dick Fifield, Danny Jamison and I signed on with the Navy.

As World War II ended, Roger headed for Tufts College in Medford, and I was accepted at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Towards the end of our sophomore year Roger wrote that he was not entirely happy with his program at Tufts, and so I urged him to come out to Whitman College for his final two years. This he did, joining Tau Kappa Epsilon with me. We graduated together in 1950. A few years back I asked him if in retrospect he thought it was a good decision, and he agreed that it was.

We had some wonderful experiences together. I remember one skiing trip in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. Craig Esaryís family had a cabin that in the middle of winter was buried in nearly ten feet of snow. We packed in with a toboggan full of supplies and dug down to the door. We ate like kings, venturing into daylight to ski the slopes. It was a rare occasion when we could leave the cares of the world behind.

We both went into education dealing with young people: Roger teaching and counseling at the Brown & Nichols School in Cambridge, and I began in the fall of 1950 a three-year contract teaching English to high school age boys at the preparatory division of Robert College on the Bosporus in Istanbul Turkey.

As I began educational administration and fund raising for schools, colleges and hospitals in the Middle East, Roger continued to hone his counseling skills, becoming the Director of Guidance at Brown & Nichols and finally Executive Administrator for the New England Association for College Admissions Counseling.

Roger wrote to me in Beirut or Istanbul of earlier high school reunions, but it wasnít until our 50th in October 1994 that I was able to attend. Judy and Roger organized the best of all possible reunions. With my new computer program I was able to work closely with them to produce the reunion booklet with a biographical sketch of each of our 179 classmates.

We were delighted when Roger and Judy moved to Kennebunk to live in a beautiful house Judy had designed. Over these years our correspondence continued but actual meetings were only occasional, usually revolving in the early years around a decision on the acquisition of a summer scout camp for the Quannapowitt Council or some counseling for our son Alan as he was deciding where to go on to college.  Rogerís clear thinking and solid counseling were eagerly sought by many. He will remain always a good friend, even as once again our ways momentarily diverge.


September 7, 2007

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