Tuesday, May 23, 2006


B.J. is a guy who showed up at Clarke, in 8th grade. To me he was just a face in the hall until 7th grade.

In 7th grade, B.J. was one of nine males (including myself) that shared all of their classes together. I got to know B.J. quite well that year. And in all honesty, you'd be hard pressed to find a more friendly person. What can I say? It was impossible not to love the guy.

B.J. was always smiling, always laughing, always having a good time. He had the uncanny ability to step on every rung of the social ladder. Everybody liked him, from the dorks, to the elite, to the smokers, to the headbangers... everyone. And he seemed to like them all too.

Near the beginning of the year, B.J. found out that it was my birthday. So he reached into his pocket and gave me all the money he had - 10 cents. It was just a dime. But you could tell he was being genuine. I don't know why. But I was actually a bit touched by that gesture. I kept it in my trapper keeper for most of the year.

B.J. was generally well-behaved. But there was certainly a touch of naughtiness in him as well. I remember being in Mrs. Westburg's chorus class one day. He had brought in a snowball from outside, and whipped it at the chalkboard when Westburg's back was turned. Westburg turned around fuming. She demanded to know who had thrown it. She sat there and stared, and wouldn't continue class until someone told her. For once, the class remained silent. Keep in mind that the west side of the room was full of girls. If Kevin, Doug or myself would have thrown that snowball, we would have been fingered out by any number of them. But no one spoke out against B.J. Eventually Westburg gave up.

I remember another day in Westburg's class, where all those girls decided to mimic B.J.'s every move. B.J. was amused by it. Finally I told him to grab his own boob, to see if they would follow suit. B.J. lifted his shirt and did just that. But not of them copied that move.

Every morning before school, you could find B.J. out by the green fence, across from Kevin Shillcox' house, smoking with all the 8th graders.

There was a brief period of time, where a couple people in class hired a "manager." We even had contracts written up. I still have some of them. In addition to Jim Colby, I was B.J.'s manager. What were my duties? I have no idea. But one day I put my managerial duties into effect.

B.J. was having an argument with Mr. Fencil. And everytime B.J. would say something, I'd yell, "Yeah!" or "You tell him!" Fencil was not amused at all. After about the fourth or fifth time, he marched over to my desk and began to choke me. Then he started shaking my head while he was doing it. I was starting to turn red when he let go, then gave me a really hard slap across the face. I was kind of stunned. But before the day was out, I was choking myself and mocking Fencil about it.

B.J. was one of the guys who sometimes came over to my house for lunch.

One day I bumped into class of 1988's Glenn Soucoup in the hall. His books went flying. It was an accident. But he wanted to kill me. He followed me back to my locker - which was right next to B.J.'s. B.J. pulled Glenn aside and simply told him to leave me alone. Glenn walked away.

For some reason, this memory of B.J. sticks out. He told me of some black guy who worked at a gas station in town. And the guy used to sing, "I don't care what the white man says. Santa Claus was a black man." B.J. sang it to me. And I still sing it to this day.

In Mr. Stodola's science class, we once had to give speeches about something. Everyone had to do one. B.J. sat in the front row. And when Cindy Hayes went up to do her speech, B.J. made faces at her and tried to make her laugh. And he succeeded. Stodola wasn't amused. He made B.J. give his speech right away. While B.J. attempted to talk, Stodola started making faces at him, and disrupting everything. It was funny as hell. He had the whole class laughing. Finally after a few minutes, a dejected B.J. sat down, obviously hurt and humbled by the experience. Stodola had made his point.

Soemtime in the sprng of 7th grade, I was in my backyard. I was with two neighborhood kids, Bobby Streu, and Danny King (younger brother of fellow graduate Lisa King). B.J. just wandered into my yard and stopped to see what we were doing. The next thing I know, we're all hanging out in my garage. The three of them started smoking. Although I refrained. Danny may have only taken a puff or two himself. When he found out that Danny was Lisa's brother, I remember him saying, "You're Lisa King's brother? She's a little miss prissy, isn't she?"

Below is a picture of B.J. and Jen Andersen. This looks to have been taken in perhaps 6th or 7th grade.

B.J. looked like he had short hair. But in reality, it was really long and somehow combed over. It was quite an illusion. He could also do this "hair flip" to make everything go back into place.

B.J. stayed at school through our freshman year. Then he disappeared. I don't know what happened to him. I was once told that he moved to Sheboygan and became a cokehead. But the person who told me that was known for being full of shit. It's the same person who told me that Kevin Dehne punched a cop at a Dio concert. That story wasn't true. I doubt the B.J. story is true either.

On the day we came to register for our sophomore year, I was standing behind Rod Lumaye. He was talking to someone, saying that he couldn't stand B.J., and that he hoped his locker wouldn't be by him this coming year. That one statement by Rod is the only bad thing I've ever heard anyone say about B.J.

I ran into B.J. around 1992. I was walking out of Big Lots, as he was walking in. I think he had a girlfriend with him. He was the same old B.J. He had the same laugh and smile. We only spoke for a minute or two. But it was really cool seeing him again.

According to Kevin Dehne, he and B.J. actually lived together for a short time.

I ran into B.J. just one more time. It was around 1995 or so. He came into the video store to rent some movies. He was with his girlfriend - who I believe was very pregnant at the time. By this time he had really long hair - like hair band hair. We spoke for a minute or two. Then he turned to the girl and said, "This is Burt. He's cool."

It looks like B.J. was married to a woman named Stacy. They divorced in 2003. They have at least one child together. Today it looks like B.J. lives in Manitowoc. I have tried in vain to contact him. Thus far, I've been shut out. B.J. is one guy I would love to talk to again. I hope he's doing well. I'm going to keep trying to reach him.

UPDATE - 7/20/06 - After a lengthy search, Kevin Dehne and I tracked down B.J. in Manitowoc. He's still got the same smile and laugh. B.J. has four kids, by three different women. His youngest is one. His oldest is 16. He's currently unmarried. B.J. got his GED in 2000, and also attended Silver Lake College for a year. He currently works in construction. He has a million stories to tell. Now that he's aware of this blog, maybe he'll share some of them. He's got some interesting memories of Scott LeCoque (who was a recent next-door neighbor of his) and Wayne Rebarchek. The Wayne story is a classic. But I don't know if he'd want to share it publically. B.J. is as good a guy as you'll find. The five shots below were taken July 15th, 2006.

UPDATE - 11/11/06 - Here's some video from the day Kevin and I visited B.J.


At Tue May 23, 02:20:00 PM PDT, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

B.J. was a great kid. He would always talk to me like I was his best friend -- same as everybody. He made me laugh so hard. I remember him doing the voice of a guy from a chewing tobacco commercial, and it cracked me up. I kept telling him "do it again! do it again!" If he has kids now, they must do that to him a lot.

I used to have a photo of him with his face smushed up against a window. I'll look for it at my parents house.

At Wed Jul 26, 10:41:00 AM PDT, Blogger apeman said...

the five shote below????? UHHH! What the hell does that mean MR. WALRUS?

At Wed Jul 26, 01:31:00 PM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...


Where the hell is B.J. anyway? He said he'd stop by one of these days.


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