“We probably wouldn’t have met,” John told me.
Of course, they’d met before, being classmates at the Silver Spring high school, but they traveled in different crowds and didn’t know each other well. After graduating, both started at the University of Maryland. When Beatrice’s mother learned that John and some of his other friends were carpooling to College Park, she asked if they could take her daughter. Wartime gas rationing made any trip precious.
And so for two years, the two shared a car nearly every day.
“It was never a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship,” John said, “just a good friend who was riding with us.”
And then John transferred to the University of Minnesota, and the two went their separate ways. John went to medical school at Georgetown and started a career as a physician. Beatrice became a seamstress and opened her own business. Each got married to other people and enjoyed long, loving marriages.
“I never saw this girl again until the 50th reunion of our class,” John said.
Did you recognize her right away, I asked?
“Oh yes,” John said. Then, “actually, I had a little trouble. When she saw me, she rushed up and said, ‘John,’ and put her arms around my neck. I couldn’t see who it was. I was struggling to look at her badge. Finally I saw it. I knew immediately who it was.”
It just so happened that the only seat John could find was at Beatrice’s table. “We talked the whole evening long,” Beatrice said. “As the evening progressed I thought, I’ve got to know this man better.”
John asked if he could call. Beatrice said yes.
“There were so many strange occurrences in this thing,” John said. “Her husband went out to mow the lawn, and then a neighbor called and said, ‘Your lawn mower just went down my front yard.’ ”
Beatrice went outside to find her husband lying dead on the grass from a heart attack.
One day, after John and his wife had returned from a trip to her doctor, John went outside to mow the lawn, “and when I came in, she was lying dead on the floor. You talk about so many things that were so similar in our lives.”
In 1995, two years after that 50th class reunion, the couple was married. John is 87, Beatrice 88. They live at the Brooke Grove Retirement Village in Sandy Spring.
John has a son and daughter, Beatrice a son. Between the two of them there are five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“The minute they saw each other, our kids bonded,” John said.
This year marks seven decades since John and Beatrice graduated. Sadly, no 70th reunion is planned. The classmate who organized the reunions passed away.
Here are a few more area high school reunions:
Anna Burdick Vocational High Class of 1969 — Oct. 26. Contact cozetwinston@
Fort Hunt High — All classes reunion. July 26-28. www.
Herndon High Class of 1963 — June 1-2. Contact Ann Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Braddock Secondary Class of 1993 — Sept. 28. www.
Come on. Shake your tail.
Does it seem to you as if Squirrel Week is coming earlier and earlier? Are radio stations already filling the airwaves with squirrel-themed songs (“Jingle Squirrel,” “Silent Squirrel,” “Nutty, the Red-Tailed Squirrel”?) Have retailers already put up their Squirrel Week decorations? Are they already stocking their shelves with Squirrel Week-related merchandise: T-shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, crystal goblets, beer cozies, collectible figurines and the like?
Well, that may be because Squirrel Week is coming up. I’m kicking off my third annual Squirrelopalooza on April 7. If there’s something you’ve always wondered about squirrels, please drop me a line:. Ditto if you possess interesting squirrel knowledge or have communed with squirrels in a meaningful way.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.