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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Two Former Members
January 13, 08
Once in a while I think about former members of the memoir writing class. During the nine years I have been in the this class I have met many interesting people with great stories. Lately I have been thinking about two in particular, Florio Franetovich and Bob Reiter. Florio has passed away and Bob resides in a retirement community in Catonsville.
The way I remember, they appeared in class about the same time. They knew each other slightly because Bob was once in Florio’s current events class. Bob was exploring the senior center looking for classes that would interest him. He settled on an art and a light exercise class, but his favorite class was our memoir writing class, especially when we went out for lunch.
When Florio entered the class someone whispered that he was a retired lawyer. I thought “Oh My” I had better check the story that I was going to read. It was about my father’s wild young days and his problem with alcohol. I didn’t want to give a bad impression of the kind of stories that were read, so I choose a more slower and dull story. I realized later that was a wrong decision because we shouldn’t hesitate to read about our memories, besides he was a lawyer and I’m sure he has heard everything. Florio loved people and the more people he was around the happier he seemed to be. He had a great understanding of people. I guess that came easy after fathering seven children. He and his wife Katy invited our class to their home for several parties. Needless to say they were wonderful times.
Getting back to the beginning of my story. When we enter the class room new faces stand out and we know we have a new member. When Bob appeared I thought he was a very shy and an unsure man. I don’t know how I could have been so wrong. Anyway, he was being asked many question in a friendly way, like are you married, how many children do you have and where do you live. He looked a little stunned, so I interrupted and suggested that we don’t want to interrogate him. He smiled and choose me as his friend. He was happy to learn that Mary Jo knew his father who was a medical doctor. She remembered him from her nursing days. I’ll never forget Bob’s first story. He wrote about the time he and his wife suspected there was a forth child on the way. After he left the house to go work he would call his wife during the day and ask, “Have you come around yet” and the answer was always. “No”. When Bob finished reading, Florio looked at him and said, “I didn’t think you would write about your wife’s monthly cycle”.
Florio’s stories started out about his immigrant father, how hard he worked and wanted his family to have a better life. Then he wrote about his large and wonderful family. He loved humor and enjoyed bringing in jokes for the class. Florio was the instructor in the current events class. My husband and I joined his class and Ed got to know Florio and liked him. Suddenly things started to change because illness struck Bob’s wife, then Florio and then Ed. Bob was ill when we met him, but he was in remission. It’s sad that when you are in your senior years you meet all of these nice people and then they are gone. We have to remember how wonderful it was to have known them and what we would have missed if it had never happen. At least I had Ed for61 years.