Fresno High School's class of 1977 will hold its 30th reunion this Saturday Night in Fresno, California. Circumstances don't permit me to attend, but I thought about going, so I looked up info on the alumni web site, perused a few pictures, read names I hadn't thought of all these years trying to raise a family, start a career, move to Salt Lake, Santa Barbara, finally the Southeast.
I'm thinking of Jerry Haydostian right now because his name isn't listed among the dead with old friends Kurt Pempek and Craig Jue. He isn't the only one missing, but he was as much a member of our class as anyone else. He moved around the corner from my parents' stucco tract home on Lafayette when we were still in elementary school. I knew him a little from the neighborhood, stingray bikes in summer, his shock of blond hair, his intelligence already clear in the creative ways he approached things, the way he talked, the way he looked at things. We became better friends in Jr. High-- Cooper with its low roofs, caves for locker rooms, Algebra with Shegeby, wood shop with Peterson ('rrrrrRRRR-ight! cut the horseplay!), English with Ms. Wofford. He was one of the smart kids. At FHS we joined Senate together along with Jim Bane and Paul Luby and Danny Morgigno, and we took German and his hair grew longer, but he was still that smart, friendly kid. He always made you laugh with his wry sense of humor and easygoing personality.
He also didn't let on too much about what was going on in his head, his confusions. He didn't quite fit in, not completely, not in Senate, he wasn't an athlete, and he didn't like to showboat. We all talked about girls, but I don't remember a particular girlfriend. We also once talked about a teacher we shared, a teacher who liked to have students over to his house, our German teacher, Mr. Roy, who told stories and made you feel intelligent if he was interested in you, and it was hard to imagine him as anything other than a fat old kraut, but he had illicit designs on the young men he invited to his house, and both Jerry and I were unfortunately objects of his predilection for young men. My own story is documented in a poem I published years ago, only remarkable for its sad banality. Jerry's story remains implied in the questions he asked me that day. He nodded a lot. He didn't say a lot. He didn't need to. Back then, confused as we would have been even in the healthiest of environments, the added confusion of Andre Roy's affections doesn't necessarily explain anything, but it added an unnecessary burden. Maybe more than most, though, Jerry was one of our classmates, and this is for you, Jerry.