Every now and then when I have peanut butter in the house I will make myself a small plate of peanut butter and crackers. Doing so never fails to fill me with nostalgia, actually giving me a tightness in my chest. I am taken back to the fall of 1946 when my brother Lester was briefly back in school, vainly trying to get a high school diploma. I was a junior and had a study hall the second period. My seat was in the second row from the windows, somewhere toward the back of old room 28. Lester, being a veteran, was free to come and go as he pleased. He also had a second period free when he could come to that study hall, but he was also free the first period. First period he chose to drive his Jeep downtown to Allie Hoffman's drugstore and get his morning coffee. Without fail he would purchase several packages of Nabs ("Nibble a Nabs for a nickel") and bring them to school. During that second period study hall he would sit behind me and feed me Nabs. The smell of peanut butter combined with the texture of a cracker brings him back, young, cute, and charming as he was. It is the way that I loved him and love to remember him.
This past week (late February 2004) the death of Bill "Schlitz" Shultz took me back to the same place again. I was drawn to my copy of the 1947 Comet to find Bill's picture among the other veterans who were back in school that year. There they were, Bob Barnett, Bill Shultz, Jerry Paul, Bud Paul, Bob Miller, Lester Wooster, all young and vital, all navy vets, by apparent prearrangement wearing their navy turtleneck sweaters.
Were we ever so young? D'ya want a Nabs?