Friday, February 10, 2006


In honor of Erin's appearance yesterday, here's what I remember about her.

My first memories of Erin are from Clarke Middle School. She may have been with us at Magee. But I don't recall. Quite honestly, I don't think our paths crossed until 8th grade.

I had her in first hour math class with Mr. Stodola. It also happened to be our homeroom. During the morning announcements (if any) Mr. Stodola would read off the names of anyone in his class that had an overdue library book. This would sometimes prove embarrassing to people, as he would also read the name of the book. Thus if you happened to be reading something that others might deem uncool or something, it could be embarrassing. Erin was in this situation once. I don't recall what the book was. It was probably no big deal at all. But once her name was read, Erin told Stodola that she knew what book it was, and that he didn't need to read it out loud. No sooner were the words out of her mouth, when he rattled off the title anyway.

Also in 8th grade, when Ms. Koeppe read the morning announcements over the loudspeakers, she would always end it with, "Will the following students please report to the office..." This was usually not a good omen. Surprisingly, Erin's name was called on occasion. But most of the time, it was in error. Because while we were in 8th grade, there was also a 6th grade male student named Aaron Hynek. Eventually Ms. Koeppe figured it out and would then say, "Aaron Hynek... the 6th grader."

In our freshman year, our school had at least three suicide attempts. One of them was successful. Suicide is contagious. When one does it, others inevitably try it as well. I think that school officials went into some sort of panic mode. At one point, a list of phone numbers was handed out to every student. We could call any of the numbers to speak with someone if we had any suicidal thoughts or something. The phone numbers were those of student volunteers. If I'm not mistaken, Erin was one of them.

See my Jason Anderson entry for a funny story involving Jason tying Erin's shoelace to her desk.

Throughout my childhood, I did a lot of bad things. I did a lot of strange things. I've grown up since then, and am a pretty decent citizen today. I've always maintained a strong belief that I should never have to apologize for anything that I may have done prior to adulthood. What's the point? I'm an adult now. Why should I apologize for something I may have done 20-25 years ago when I was a stupid kid?

There is one exception.

If you read my entry on Richard Wheeler, you'll see a detailed description of our mock suicide pact. Richard and I enjoyed playing with the heads of anyone we came in contact with. Like they say, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Erin went up to Richard one day and asked," You're not really going through with Burt's plan are you?" To which Richard blasted back, "Are you kidding? This is all my idea!" Erin walked away dejected. A few days after the suicide date, I'd heard that Erin had dedicated her entire creative writing packet that week to our suicide plan. I asked her to show it to me. She reluctantly did. Her words hit me like a bullet to the head (no pun intended). "They say he's the walrus. And the walrus means death..." Ms. Sapa sympathized with her in the notes she scratched on the pages. I felt like total shit. Richard and I never wanted to hurt anyone - least of all someone as nice as Erin. I was just stunned over her words, and sheepishly handed them back to her when I'd finished. I was too shocked to even tell her I was sorry. Although I didn't dwell on it, not apologizing to her bugged me for years.

In our senior year (I believe) Erin was elected queen of one of the various dances - prom or homecoming perhaps. Her king was Nick Novachek. I don't believe they were a couple though. Perhaps at that dance or a different one, Erin also helped out decorating the gym. She and her fellow classmates enjoyed the moment when it was all finished.

About two weeks before I started this blog, I happened to see Erin's name on CLASSMATES.COM. I siezed the moment, dropping her a line, and apologizing for the stupid event from December, 1987. She wrote me back, cheerful as ever, saying there was no need to apologize, and that she was very happy that it turned out to be a joke. Too cool Erin.

I ran into Erin many, many times at the video store. She remained friendly as always. I think she went onto school somewhere. Eventually she married, and is now known as Erin Meara. I believe she has three kids and a dog. Last I knew, she was working in some sort of medical field - perhaps in the area of hearing defects. She now lives in the St. Louis area.

UPDATE - 2/13/06 - Erin has joined the ranks of the brave souls who have sumbitted a photo. She gave me three. I chose the one with her and her daughters - presumably at Busch Stadium. Is it just me, or does she look exactly the same as she did 17 years ago? Remarkable. Thank you Erin.

UPDATE - 8/10/06 - Another recent picture of Erin can be seen below. It was taken in Colorado last month.

UPDATE - 10/4/07 - Back in July, Erin visited Two Rivers. One night she went out with Paula Jonas and Brenda Gordon. While they were out, they ran into Mark Gordon. The results are the picture below. The picture of her daughters may be from the same trip.

Over Labor Day weekend, my family and I went down to visit Erin. Rather than rehash the whole story, I'll just copy and paste my blog entry from September 6th. Here it is.

So after a few weeks of planning, the TWORIVERSWALRUS family set out for St. Louis. Why? Because we were invited to spend the weekend with Erin Hynek. How could we pass that up? So on August 31st, we left my work about 5:00 and headed south for a mere 418-mile trek. Onboard were myself, my lovely wife and our two girls - ages four and two. There was also some junk food.

Erin doesn't live in St. Louis. She lives outside of the city. Could it have been on the northeast side - closer to Wisconsin? Oh no. She had to settle down about 40 minutes northwest of the city - out in the boonies - very dark. On the surface it doesn't seem to make that much fo a difference. But when you've been driving for 5.5 hours, it'd be nice to be done, rather than go those extra 40 minutes. Oh well.

So we arrived at about 11:40 and settled in, carrying our girls up to bed. Erin had to get to bed right away, as she was doing a triathlon the next morning, and had to be up at some ungodly time like 5:30. My wife and I had done our triathlons the week before. So we slept in.

Expected back around 10:30, I think Erin actually rolled in around noon. We ended up officially meeting her two girls shortly thereafter. And let me say, her kids are two of the most well-behaved, well adjusted little girls I've ever been around. Kudos to Erin on her mothering skills.

We went to the mall. We went shopping. We ate toasted ravioli - and potato chips, a restaurant buffet, cookies, and various other tasty, unhealthy stuff. Ah... vacation! I played Pictionary with Erin's girls, batted balloons around, went swimming, and had an all-around good time.

On Sunday we went to Grant's Farm - free, save for the parking. It's sort of zoo, with horses, deer, bison, kangaroos and more. They even had elephants. Not one to pass up a unique photo opportunity, I got a picture of Erin and I (and one of her daughters) in front of an elephant. This marks my first classmate photo with a giant beast in it. I'm sure there will be more.

On Monday morning, Erin's youngest tried to do something with my oldest's hair.

Her big sister then tried to undo the tangles.

When that didn't work, Erin had to come in and fix it. I believe it required scissors.

After the hair episode, we took them out to IHOP for a final breakfast. It took about an hour before we actually saw our food. But when it finally did arrive, it was tasty and plentiful. When we were done, we posed for the obligatory group shot. I'm in the back - the only male in the photo.

All-in-all, it was a fabulous weekend. Apparently Erin's girls were a bit teary-eyed after we left. How sweet. When I told my daughter that, she said, "I was sad to go too." After 18 years, here I was, a guest in the home of a former classmate that I'd never even hung around with back in school. Life is surreal sometimes, isn't it? Erin was an excellent host and made us all feel very welcome. Perhaps we can do it again over another three-day weekend. I sure hope so.


At Fri Feb 10, 01:23:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Erin was one of the most beautiful girls we went to school with and she was *all* class. I remember her always being very hip, honest, and sensitive. Mostly hip.

We were the two mallet players in marching band. We would always peck around and get away with it because I was Tuppy's pet. If ever knew where I was supposed to be on the field, it was because Erin filled me in, god knows I wasn't paying attention to tuppy.

One time she confessed that her boyfriend, who I believe was some sort of footbal star, once said to her during an argument, "Oh, why don't you go play bells with Greg!!" I, of course, felt like the ultimate stud.

Whatever Erin's doing now, I'm sure it mostly involves putting others ahead of herself, laughing & smiling a lot, and getting others to do the same.

Here's to you, Erin. You deserve all the happiness in the world!

At Fri Feb 10, 03:17:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Oh, yeah...

Erin is also the only member of our class who ever slept with me.

That is, actually slept. On a bus. On the Florida band trip. Because all the other seats were taken. She sat next to me and slept. I, of course, felt like the ultimate stud.

At Fri Feb 10, 10:20:00 PM PST, Blogger the_meff said...

I must confess, I never knew Erin that well, though I shared a few classes her and there.

However, I must concur, she was always polite and cheery and kind.

And every time she was polite and cheery and kind I, um, felt like the ultimate stud.

Sorry Greg.

At Sat Feb 11, 07:28:00 AM PST, Blogger PJ said...

This one you were right on, Burt. Erin is everything you say she is and more. I am privileged to count her among my best girlfriends (in the good company of Lisa "Koch", Brenda Gordon, Josie Scott & Tina Short).

She has changed just a bit though...she is MORE selfless, giving and "hip".

I need to give her credit for introducing me to the awesome sport of running and recreational racing. This fall, along with Lisa, Josie and Tina I'll tackle my first marathon!

What more can I say? To know Erin is to love her!!!

At Sat Feb 11, 07:52:00 AM PST, Blogger Brenda said...

Right on PJ...I totally agree!!! What a great person and friend!!!

At Sat Feb 11, 08:47:00 AM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

P.J., you rock.

Well, y’all make a girl blush! B, I’m glad to hear that your memories are positive; your kindness is appreciated. I’ve really enjoyed this little experiment of yours and I think it’s fascinating to hear about all of the “behind the scenes” things that you so vividly remember. Warped and delinquent, but so hysterically funny now in the context of your successful and obviously happy life. I have many great memories but I could never articulate them as well as you and your gang so thanks for sharing :) You have a gift for storytelling and it sucks that no one really picked up on that way back when. You wife sounds way cool.

Just some stuff about me: I went to UWMilwaukee after HS and then on to the Central Institute for the Deaf at Washington University in St. Louis in 1994. I’ve been working as an audiologist for 10 years. I met my husband and stayed and got married in 1997. I have a 14 year old stepson Colin and 2 girls, Morgan is 8 and Kate is 5. I live about 45 minutes west of downtown and I’ve never been up in the Arch. You can feel it sway when it’s windy; no thanks. I’m a Cardinals fan but I still bleed green. For my sanity I found running, which I always hated, and I also swim and road bike. I’ve finished 2 half marathons (the last I shared with my best girls…who you all know) and 2 triathlons. I am thankful everyday for my healthy family and the strength I receive from friendships I treasure. Some of those friends have been profiled here and while my kneejerk reaction was to defend some of the negative memories I realize this site is about Burt’s memories, not mine, and I have to respect that. But ladies, I know your hearts and they are good and you mean the world to me (J,P,T,L,B,T).

Greg, I always enjoyed your company. A great sense of humor and talent can be studly. You have a plethora (thanks Mr. Hensel) of both.

I don’t remember the Stodola incident or the shoelace incident. Must have destroyed too many brain cells. Scary.

Thanks again for the giggles.

At Sat Feb 11, 09:45:00 AM PST, Blogger jenny said...

If it's one thing I truly regret from my high school years was losing contact with the Lovely Erin Hynek. Erin was pure honesty and compassion, along with a super silly sense of humor and an ability to laugh out loud. Erin YOU ROCK. I am happy to here you have some kids to pass along your sweetness. That gives me hope.

At Sat Feb 11, 10:42:00 AM PST, Blogger Lisa said...

Okay, my turn!! Erin and I knew each other in grade school and were friends for a while. We drifted apart and probably never said more than "hi" to each other in high school. No reason, that's just how it was.

In the past few years, we have "reconnected" through Paula and Josie and have formed a new friendship through the common link of running!

The best word to describe Erin is "selfless" as Paula said. I don't think I know a more caring, loving, endearing, genuine, kind, thoughtful, or considerate person!! Erin is truly one of a kind and I feel very privileged to now call her a great friend!! I also have her to thank for getting me into this crazy running thing we do!!!

Love ya Erin!!!

At Sat Feb 11, 10:43:00 AM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Nice to have you here Erin. Your comments are very welcome. And if you have a kneejerk reaction and want to defend someone, feel free. I'd love to read them. My opinions are just that - opinions. And others will no doubt have a different point of view sometimes. That's what life is all about.

Now, are you brave enough to send a picture?

At Mon Feb 13, 08:15:00 AM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

A bit.

Keep eating your broccoli, Hynie girl.

At Mon Feb 13, 01:36:00 PM PST, Blogger the_meff said...

OK, sure, fine...

She's compassionate, she's pretty, she's funny...



As a disciple of the Brewers, it's tough for me to get past those jerseys...

At Mon Feb 13, 01:48:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Since this blog is all about reminiscing... 1982 is still fresh in my mind. Grr...

At Mon Feb 13, 02:10:00 PM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

Two words...Albert Pujols!!!!!Impossible not to be a cardinals fan if you live in St. Louis! I didn't think anyone watched the Brewers!? ;)

My brush with fame...I met Stan Musial before I knew who he was. I was a hostess at a resturant here in 1995 and on one of my first nights I took a reservation from a crazy sounding person called "Stan the Man". I humored this "old man" and "of course I had a table for him" and then hung up and asked around who this guy was giving me a hard time. Turns out it was THE Stan the Man. This caused quite a stir. Clueless cheesehead I was.

At Mon Feb 13, 03:27:00 PM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Stan Musial was St. Louis royalty. The two times we went to Missouri, we were stopped at the border and given a pamphlet on the man. May herest in peace.

At Tue Feb 14, 10:02:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Hi Erin-

I've waited a few days to check in, wanted to make sure I got it right...

Erin was, to me, a paradox of contradiction. She had the ability to take on a number of roles and fulfill them all to perfection.

Erin was sensitive and caring...almost to a fault...almost.

Erin was destined to be a leader, and people followed because they trusted her.

Erin was (and still is, now that we have a photo) a beautiful woman, inside and out.

Erin could get mad...yes, she could. She got mad at me once. We were dancing at the "Back 40" and Jason decided to get into a fight...I left the dance floor to "back him up", Erin was not happy that I left her stranded...I regret that moment to this day.

Erin was one of the most complete members of this class, I was proud to be her friend.

Oh, and I think I kissed her once. In Josie's basement...gotcha Erin.

At Tue Feb 14, 10:51:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...


I've been informed that I may have shared "two" kisses with the former Ms Hynek...Ha!

Take that class of '89...!

At Wed Feb 15, 06:14:00 PM PST, Blogger Rozy said...

Erin believe it or not I still coach swimming for the team you left in Berlin.

At Wed Feb 15, 09:49:00 PM PST, Blogger SonnyKidd said...

I'm aghast at these rumors that I would somehow be involved in a physical altercation, escpecially in a peaceful setting like the Back 40. I'm a lover, not a fighter, ask half the girls on this blog...

At Mon Feb 20, 10:57:00 AM PST, Blogger Jeff G said...

Erin, didnt we sit next to each other is physics??? If you were the one, I wouldnt have made it through without your help. If not, I just put my foot in my mouth. Didn't we all fail the final exam? Seriously? Gerald Buth was the bomb.

At Wed Mar 08, 05:41:00 PM PST, Blogger drew konop said...

erin hynek the 8th grader - how the heck are ya? i had not checked the blog for a while, but finally saw your posts!

favorite f.b. story: 8th grade - so many notes were passed under mr. stadola's nose, but my favorite has to be "humor, is that how you spell it? no it's huoumor. or maybe humer. wait, what was i thinking, its humur!" or something to that effect...

more memories to come. developing...

all my best - D

At Thu Mar 09, 12:30:00 PM PST, Blogger mimikatemom said...

HA! I didn't think you'd remember f.b.....so funny. Isn't passing notes pretty much all we ALL did in Middle School? I know we went through tons of looseleaf folded real tight! :) I think maybe I should plant a tree.

At Thu Nov 30, 10:53:00 AM PST, Blogger john steltz said...

All of these people that I have lost contact with after my eight grade year at Clarke...this project is an absolutely amazing tool...anyway, I would have to agree with everyone here Erin, you were, and I am sure still are, one of the most special people I can remember from "back when". Our lives are better for having had contact with you, albeit, in my case, very brief. You have an infectious smile and a glowing personality. Your daughters appear to have acquired those traits from their mother. Thanks for the memories.


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