From the old radio station studio at County College of Morris, a magical voice came over the radio waves.
The Magical Voice
By Richard Mabey Jr.
September of 1972 rolled around. On the fifth of September, I turned 19 and began my second year at County College of Morris. There was a heavy ache in my heart. Penny was gone. It seemed in every nook and cranny, at CCM, there was a place where I had shared some kind of special moment with Penny.
There was the little area, in the student lounge, in front of the Youngtown Edition office. It was there, one Saturday afternoon in September of 1971, when Penny insisted that I take the plunge and join my college newspaper staff.
Then there was the cafeteria, the one on the left hand side. It was in that cafeteria that Penny and I had a cup of tea, on a different and separate Saturday afternoon. It was there, while we sipped our hot tea, that Penny told me how wonderful it would be to attend CCM after she graduated from Eastside High School. It was a memorable moment.
I can still hear Penny saying to me, “imagine us both going to the same college!” But alas, Penny was now at Rutgers. I was still at CCM. And, there was the agreement. It was time for both of us to spread our wings and fly, without the weight of each other.
And, the list would take reams of paper to cite all the precious moments that I remembered sharing with Penny at dear old CCM.
I remember this so very well. I used to have an economics class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It ran from 3:15 till 4:45 in the afternoon. On Thursdays, I used to work at a local grocery store from 6:00 till 10:00 at night. I used to go to the cafeteria, after my economics class and buy a ham and cheese sandwich and a hot tea for supper. Sometimes, if I had the extra dough, I would buy a dish of Jello.
As I ate my sandwich and sipped my tea, I would review my notes from my economics class. Time was precious. It was at that time that a student DJ from the CCM radio, Cathette, had a radio show. She would play classic rock music and offer philosophical meanderings, during her radio show. Plain and simple, she had a magical voice. Her voice was almost hypnotic, in its calm and serene quality.
I remember this so very well. I would be sipping my cup of tea, chomping on my sandwich, sitting there all alone in the cafeteria, wondering to myself, “what did this Cathette lady look like?”
All I knew, is that I dreaded going to work on Thursday afternoons. For my first class on Thursdays was at eight in the morning. That meant, I would have to get up at six in the morning to get ready and then make the drive from Lincoln Park to Randolph, in time for my first class. My little time of sitting in the college cafeteria at five in the afternoon, was my only “alone time” for the whole day. And, Thursdays were painfully long days. So, my little time of listening to Cathette spin records and philosophize on life, was a precious little time to me.
I remember this so very well. And to my friend, Cathette, if you read this blog, I wonder if you remember this moment. On a Thursday afternoon, in late September of 1972, you played the song, “So Far Away,” from Carol King’s Tapestry album. I remember that I was sitting against the wall of the cafeteria, alone, facing the picture window. When Carol King sang those words, “but you’re so far away,” I began crying.
I was so embarrassed. The harder I tried not to cry, the more I cried. And, it was time for me to leave for work. I remember finishing my ham and cheese sandwich, taking the last sip of tea from the Styrofoam cup, and leaving the college cafeteria and beginning the walk to my old Ford Falcon. All the while that I walked to Parking Lot One, I cried. That song, played over and over again in my heart and mind. I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of missing Penny.
I found the wherewithal to drive to work. I used to be the Frozen Food Manager at a grocery store, not far from dear old CCM. It was tough to get through the night’s work, but I did.
Life is strange. For in late September of 1972, I had no idea of the profound affect that Cathette would have upon my life. For the weeks that lied ahead in the midst of the autumn beauty at CCM, destiny was to call me to meet the great DJ, Cathette. And, her incredible love of all life, her high level of intelligence, and her quiet sensitivity would have a profound affect upon my life. I would never be the same.