Thursday, February 23, 2006


I've had a couple of requests for her. So here's Beth.

I first remember Beth at Clarke. I don't believe she was at Magee. Beth was small in stature. One might even describe her as meek. She was short and thin. She was also quiet. But more than anything, she was smart. She was "Larry Daffner" smart. If this girl ever got a grade lower than an A, I'd be shocked.

Beth's mom was a substitute teacher in Two Rivers. She was probably the most popular of them all. In fact, she was dubbed "Sergeant Sullivan." She used to play a game with the class called "Sullivan says" - which was more-or-less the same as "Simon says." But I digress.

I'm not sure how popular Beth was. She certainly wasn't mean or anything. Everyone accepted her. But I think some may have been intimidated by her all-around smarts. Let's face it. beth was about as straight-laced as they come. She was the girl who you'd expect to never get in trouble, never miss a day of school, be a perfect student, and stay a virgin until she got married. I reckon she did miss a few days of school. Everyone gets sick. But I'd bet money the rest of that statement came true.

I think Beth was friends with Sheila Zach. I know the two of them went on the senior trip to Mexico with the Spanish class.

I ran into Beth once or twice at the video store. The last time I saw her, she had let her hair grow way out - and big! I think she went to college at Princeton. She ended up getting maried and became Beth Hellman. I think they have at least two children, and live in the Milwaukee area. I believe Beth works for Wisconsin Electric. I'm not sure what she does for them. But I assure you, she doesn't answer phones.


At Sat Feb 25, 06:37:00 AM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

beth had the prettiest skin. after all her accomplishments, that's what i remember 1st? let me add this... i think she may hv won an award for never missing school. how on earth? i started everyday wondering how i cld get out of going. EVERY day.

hope all is well for beth.

At Sat Feb 25, 07:57:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I had the weirdest relationship with Beth. This is because, pardon me for saying this, but I believe I was the only person who could measurably exceed her in anything related to school or academics. Namely, I was ahead of her in band. I was always 1st chair oboe, she was second.

This fact is evidence of the cosmic unfairness of the universe. I was probably the laziest kids in the class of '89 --I rarely practiced. Beth worked her ass off. [And you have to understand, practicing the oboe HURTS. It's like trying to blow through a pencil. Look at any oboe player -- for 10 minutes after they stop, they have veins popping out of their heads and they're hard to talk to. This is why I rarely practiced.]

I felt very guilty about this. There's no reason I should have played better than Beth. And technically, she played well -- she could play with accuracy and velocity. But no matter what she did, she made that instrument sound like a pig on fire. I know it drove her nuts. You know how she was -- she wasn't good at everything ONLY because she was smart. She believed -- religiously -- that hard work yields success. I was the anomaly in her paradigm. I was proof that the universe didn't work the way in was supposed to. You could work hard and still be surpassed by a lazy schmuck.

In spite of this, we were almost always pretty good friends. She actually had a good sense of humor. She told me this joke once:

Q; What's the difference between an oral and a rectal thermometer?
A; Taste.

I thought it was pretty funny, especially coming from her.

Once in 8th grade, I think on my birthday, she gave me a pencil wrapped in a ribbon. See, I was always losing pencils and borrowing them from Beth. She said that this would be the last pencil she'd ever give me (It wasn't).

In 8th grade she got to the state or regional level in the Spelling Bee. I remember that the word she finally lost on was "vigilance." The next day I made fun of her and she got really defensive. Then I said "just kidding, Beth. We're all really proud of you." She was really surprised.

I really thought Beth was awesome. She was what I knew I was supposed to be. Not just smart, but really dedicated. Someone you knew would actually USE the talents she had.

At Sun Feb 26, 12:04:00 PM PST, Blogger moptopjen said...

Well done, Greg. In HS, we don't give things their due, and after HS, we forget about them. Beth deserves every plesant word of yours...and all of ours. When you mentioned her work ethic, something clicked for me. It's absolutely true.

A friend once said that integrity means to take the harder right. I added "when no one's looking" and call it my own work ethic. It's easy to do what's right. It means something to take the harder right, even when no one knows about it. That's Beth...and she was doing it that long ago. It's taken me years!

Cheers Beth! And cheers Greg for giving her what's due.


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