This is a photo of the very tree, under which Robin and I would say farewell, after walking home from school each day.
For Robin, With Much Respect and Gratitude
There was this wonderfully magical time in my life when I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade at dear old Chapel Hill School. One of the dearest blessings that I remember about that era in time was walking home from school with my neighbor and classmate, Robin. Robin was hands-down one of the cutest girls in our class. She had hair the color of corn silk that was cut in a bob hairstyle with bangs that fell across her forehead. I remember that Robin had this most adorable smile.
Robin lived diagonally across the street from me, along the ribbon of road of the famous old two-lane Route 202. Robin lived in the old Storms homestead, the very home where my paternal grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey was born and raised. The home had been built in three stages. The original portion of the home was built about ten years before the Civil War, by my great-great grandfather, William Storms. The home stood along Hook Mountain, the very mountain range that General George Washington used as a lookout point to keep an eye on British Army movements.
The driveway, that connected Route 202 to the garage behind Robin’s house, was long, uphill and layered with crushed grey stone. At the foot of Robin’s driveway, close to Route 202, was an incredibly magnificent maple tree. My grandfather once told me that it was the very maple tree, beneath which he proposed to my grandmother. It was one of the tallest, most incredibly beautiful trees I have ever seen.
Robin and her family moved into the old Storms homestead when we were both about 12 years old, in the beginning of seventh grade. Mr. Geisler, our homeroom teacher introduced Robin to the class as the “new girl.” During lunch and then afterward at the school playground, during recess, all the boys were talking about how cute the “new girl” was.
From time to time, small miracles come into our lives. Such a time of a small miracle, came to me during that era, for the good Lord had graced me with the special opportunity to walk home with Robin every day after school. I still remember sitting in Miss Trapani’s math class, which was the last class period of the day, thinking about what I would talk about with Robin. My time of magical daydreaming would be interrupted when Miss Trapani would call upon me to answer one of the math problems that we had been given to do as homework the night before. I would go up to the blackboard, write down how I figured problem, all the time thinking to myself, “this lady’s got a lot of nerve to interrupt up my daydreaming about walking home with Robin!”
The walk home from Chapel Hill School to our homes was a little over a mile in length. We would walk along the cracked sidewalks, enjoy the shade of the maples and oaks that loomed along Route 202, and we would talk about school, the Monkees television show, and the nerve of our teachers giving us so much homework.
Looking back, I was a painfully shy boy with a sensitive nature. In so many ways, my friendship with Robin was instrumental in my development and unfoldment on the road to becoming a young man, whose heart held a great respect for women. For kindness and compassion flowed through Robin’s heart.
Robin and her family moved away from the old neighborhood during the summer between our sophomore and junior years of high school. We still continued to attend the same high school. In my junior year, I was blessed to share a Spanish class with Robin. I remember that the Spanish class was eighth period, just before my ninth period band class. During my senior year of high school, I didn’t see or talk to Robin that much. After graduating from high school, destiny was such that I never saw her again.
Today, living in Central Florida, from time to time a friend or neighbor will introduce me to his or her visiting grandson, being right in that age range of 11 to 13 years old. Whenever I do meet a young man of this age, I inwardly pray that the good Lord will guide him to find his first crush to be a young lady with the kindness and compassion that I remember flowed from Robin’s heart.
From time to time, Robin and I email each other. Today, Robin is a Librarian and Professor at a large west coast university. I am positive that her qualities of kindness and compassion are touching and inspiring the lives of many university students.
Over 45 years have passed since the glory days of walking home with Robin. In memory, I look back to that ribbon of road of Route 202, the shadow of the old Hook Mountain, and the endearing and enduring beauty of the magnificent maple tree that Robin and I would exchange our farewells of our school day. While gone and faded, the embers of appreciation still abide in my heart of those precious days of innocence.
Peace and harmony,