This week brought memories of years gone by as I watched the fanfare as my friend retired. Wilma Smith was a news anchor at the Fox TV affiliate in Cleveland, our hometown, and she ended an illustrious 36 years. She definitely heard and reported many historical events and interviewed many prominent people.
Recently, we revisited events that affected our lives during our teenage years. Wilma and I met in kindergarten. We went to grade school and high school together; we mutually decided going to the same college would be a distraction from our goals. A week ago, on the phone, we laughed until we were crying from laughing about the way we were.
There are some capers that still amuse us and, in retrospect, were premonitions of things to come. I hope the readers enjoy them:
One Saturday when Wilma (who is 5 feet, 9 inches) and I (once 5 feet, 5 inches) were strolling around Cleveland’s Public Square when, on the spur of the moment, we decided to try out our persuasive skills by getting one person to believe that something that did not happen, did.
Wilma went into Marshall’s Drug Store; I entered about three minutes later. I spotted her in the shampoo aisle and pretended to bump into her. I apologized and said, “Wow! Didn’t I see you on TV last night?” She responded, “Please, I don’t want anyone to recognize me.” I continued with, “What were you advertising? I can’t remember. Was it shampoo?” Wilma said, “Please, I don’t want to talk about it.” I said, “Oh, I remember now, it is that big concert coming up, right?” She said nothing. I said, “Is it next Saturday?” She said, “Shh, don’t talk to me.” This went on for about three minutes. Finally, a shopper walked up, looked at Wilma and said, “IT IS YOU! I saw you on TV, too.” To me, she said tersely, “Yes, the concert is Saturday at Geauga Lake park,” looking at Wilma the whole time for verification. I thanked her and left the store. Wilma was right behind me. We laughed on the bus ride home because our spoof was successful, innocent and fun.
Wilma and I were in two annual talent shows at Garfield Senior High School. The first show’s theme was “Moo-Moo Magic,” and dressed in moo-moos, of course, Wilma, my twin, Jean and I sang “Faraway Star.” As seniors we were part on an ensemble that sang and danced to “Swinging on a Star.” “Live Your Dreams” was the theme of that show.
When we remember our high school days, Wilma gets teary because she never dreamed of a career on television. That “star was far”, not even in the sky, but indeed my friend certainly did “swing on a television star” for many years.
Here we are in June, an important month for young people about to go from being boys and girls to men and women. Lots of milestone events occur; prom night and graduation day come to mind. They represent a rite of passage to independence, self-realization and choosing a path for the future.
Wilma lived the American Dream. Wilma was, as she said recently, “just a normal kid from Garfield Heights,” a middle-class community similar in size and population to Carson City. Wilma never compromised her values; perhaps that is why she excelled.
Congratulations, graduates! “The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.” — Ayn Rand
Ann Bednarski of Carson City is a career educator and journalist.