“Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life, Ender. The best you can do is choose to fill the roles given to you by good people, by people you love.”

--Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game

Russ had his band, with whom he practiced and recorded and played at gigs. And he had a close circle of good friends from the Post Office and his personal life.
And I had my own large close group of family and relatives.
But through years of conversations, we found that we had a lot that we shared, giving us much common ground. And we also found that we were different enough to keep things interesting.

There were many things that we shared completely.
We both loved working outdoors.
We both had a healthy mistrust of authority.
We both loved to go to the movies.
We both loved to read.
We both loved to tell stories.
We both loved to listen to stories.
And there were many other areas where we shared common ground.

But there were many areas in which our background differed.

We both grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s. But I lived in a highly urban area of Roseland on Chicago’s far South side, near 115th and State. And Russ grew up in the then almost rural south-west Chicago suburb of Palos Hills, near 95th & LaGrange Rd, practically adjacent to the Cook County Forest Preserves.

We both pretended to be Cowboys and Indians. But I was Davy Crockett or Jim Bridger. And Russ spent his time wandering “Indian trials” and looking for arrowheads. (Ironically, he would search up and down and around the same Crooked Creek where I would explore on Sunday trips out to the Forest Preserves with my family.)

We both enjoyed music and the arts. But I was a pathetically inept accordion player with two (painful) years of practice and (thankfully) no public performance. And Russ was a talented drummer, with countless hours of practice and decades of work with bands, and innumerable performances.

We both went to Catholic grammar schools and high schools. But I had kind-hearted Franciscans. And Russ was often tormented by a different order of nuns. (Who will go unidentified, for fear of holy retribution!)

We both were raised in traditional families. But my large family seemed to be right out of Leave It To Beaver, and I had almost a hundred aunts and uncles and cousins. And Russ’ family-life was often strained, and he had only one older brother, and a few relatives.

We both passed adolescence and young-adulthood in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. But I went to college. And Russ went to Viet Nam.

We both wore “notable” hats. But mine was a black felt fedora. And his was a rabbit skin “Nanook of the North” fur hat that eventually died in a washing machine.

We both felt a close bond with our fellow letter carriers. But mine was based on my close knit-family. And Russ likened it more appropriately to “comrades in arms” – all the different types he had already found in a combat unit, facing common difficulties and a common challenge.

These similarities and differences gave us much to talk about.

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