I should have made a list of all the different subjects I have written about as a reporter.
A few things I would just as soon forget because of the ugliness that was involved.
However, I’m like Ernie in the TV commercial. He wakes up on the floor, surrounded by pistachio shells, and mumbles about what happened the night before when the Squirrel Sisters came to visit.
He says he doesn’t want to think about it, “But I’m a elephant. I can’tforget.” And I’m the same way. Some things you just can’t unsee or unhear, like sitting in a courtroom next to a man you know who is the father of the victim, a very young girl.
It would suit me to have a couple of do-overs, chief among them my interview with Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark. He was one of the nine men who decided in Brown v. Board of Education that school segregation was unconstitutional.
I was a college journalism student. I wish the 20-year courthouse-reporter me could go back and talk to that man.
A boa constrictor escaped from its owner, and the paper sent me to do a story. Part of this involved going to an exotic pet store and meeting a boa that was about the same size as the fugitive.
Its scales felt absolutely dry, and it was utterly devoid of warmth without being cold. That was the day I found out that unlike Indiana Jones, I’m not afraid of snakes. I just don’t care to be around them.
I went to the scene of a botched armed robbery in which the store owner won a shootout with two hoodlums, and I arrived before the cleanup crew did. I interviewed the cop who gave me donuts and coffee every time I brought him a newspaper at the police station.
After a quarter-century of being a police and courthouse reporter, I decided that when possible, I would write stories that dealt with the better side of humanity.
That’s why I covered an event some folks might think wouldn’t have been up my alley. It appealed to me, and one of the people involved was a friend.
And so, in April 2014, I went as a reporter to cover a wedding, and not just any wedding. (I don’t mind going to weddings, as long as they’re not mine.)
It happened at at a nursing home, and here’s how my story started:
“CUMBERLAND — An archway trimmed with pink gauze and a pink butterfly was at one end of the room, and a small table holding three pristine white candles stood a few feet away.
“Two cakes and a tableful of munchies were at the other end of the room, and balloons, chairs and tables draped with pink tablecloths filled the rest of the space.
“Most people go to a wedding, but this time the wedding came to the people.”
The bride and groom are musicians and singers who performed so frequently at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care that they and the residents came to think of each other as family.
They wanted to have their extended family present at their wedding, but travel would have been a problem for most of them. So they had it at the Lions Center.
Pastor Joe Penick, who officiated, told the gathering. “Many of you may be thinking back to the time when you were married,” he said. “This must be a great time for you, as well as for Fred and Belinda. They wanted to share this with you.”
I had more fun that day than any reporter ever should have while covering a story.
I haven’t seen Belinda or Fred since then, but have read about them at times in our newspaper.
As our reporter Greg Larry wrote last year, Fred Jr. and Belinda Sullivan “have a mutual passion for giving to others in need. Together, they participate in as many as a dozen benefits and fundraisers annually.”
You can find Greg’s story in our electronic edition by asking the search engine to look for “A passion for giving” (Aug. 19, 2018).
A year later, Greg wrote about them again, saying “When someone, anyone, fell on hard times, Belinda Sullivan answered the call.” but this time the headline read “Tireless giver now in need of kidney” (Aug. 26, 2019).
Belinda has been diagnosed with acute kidney failure and is in need of a transplant. Greg tells me people are responding in hopes of volunteering to give her one of theirs.
Fred and Belinda created a Facebook page, “Find Belinda a Kidney,” and are organizing a live music benefit fund raiser to help meet expenses their insurance won’t cover. It will be Sept. 8 from 1 to 9 p.m. at Lashbaugh’s in Cresaptown, and several bands will perform.
This one hits me in a personal way for three reasons, the first being that Fred Jr.’s dad, Fred Sr., is an old friend of mine. We used to bowl together.
The second is that I covered their wedding for the newspaper.
The third is that I have been living with one kidney since Christmas 1963 and have met any number of people who for whatever reason also have just one.
A friend of mine gave her father a kidney several years ago and both have been getting along just fine.
She was nervous about doing it and wondered how she would be afterward.
I told her, “Look at me. I’m 6-2 and weigh 225 pounds and have had only one kidney for the last 50 years. Just think how (Goldsworthy word) big and strong I’d be if I had two of them!”
That seemed to ease her mind, and I’ve said the same thing to other folks, with similar effect.
So there is all the hope in the world for my young friends, whom I have only met one time, but hold in high regard because of what they’ve done with their lives.
It’s just a matter of getting the details worked out, and if any two people on this planet deserve to have something good happen to them, it’s Belinda and Fred.
I am keeping them in my prayers and ask that you do the same.