Concord Observer: Middle school graduation, memories and transitions

By Ken Anderson
July 27, 2023

Last month my wife, Lynda, and I were privileged to attend the Concord Middle School graduation ceremony. Our oldest grandchild, William Fox Anderson, graduated that day. As I listened and watched the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, my mind wandered through many time zones.

In that present zone, Alex Sharp delivered a fabulous poem about her life and experiences. Myles Lawton quoted Taylor Swift with “Long Story Short.” And I sat beside the mother of Sallie Wu, who won the Morton Seavey Award.

Looking around, I remembered we were on land which, in my youth, was fields and forests crisscrossed by dirt roads. There was an abandoned house near the Sudbury line and a tree close to the road. The house is gone, the tree is still there, the roads are paved, and the fields have been divided into house lots. But, in my memory, I can picture parking our car on the side of a dirt road and carrying a blanket and basket of lunch across a field of knee-high (six-year-old knees) grass.

In a later era, Morton Seavey was middle school principal when I attended in the Peter Bulkeley Building on Stow Street. It was there that I met people who would have a profound effect on my life. Notably, Paul Dickie, a teacher extraordinaire, who initiated his students into the marvels of mathematics. 

One day, Seth Aronie, with me in a supporting role, won an argument with my mother, secretly infuriating her. (She later said, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis at age 68, that our argument made her resolve to go to college –  a step she had sidestepped to marry my father a few years out of high school.)

Seth and I met in seventh grade when we were assigned to the same class. Of course, I had known who he was since he was part of a triad, along with Bob Damon and David Alden, of power hitters in Little League from West Concord. 

We played sports together – football, basketball and baseball. We (and our team) drank bottles of Coca Cola (small ones for a nickel out of the machine) after changing and showering in the cellar of the Armory. We drank milkshakes from Snow Pharmacy which cost 20 cents. For an extra nickel, people got frappes made with ice cream.

Seth was a regular presence at our house after school and for sleepovers. We studied together.  I went to Hebrew school with him on occasion. My mother and I went to his bar mitzvah.

We used to laugh that his mother, Ida Aronie (a force at Open Table and Council on Aging) went to college and got her degree in social work, eventually becoming a majordomo in the Catholic Charities of Boston, while my mother got a job at Brandeis. We laughed about that and he dubbed me a Jewnitarian. We have been friends for almost 65 years, remaining in each other’s lives and thoughts for all that time. 

Recently, I drove Seth – now Emmanuel since his embrace of Subud spiritual practice – to Logan Airport for his journey back to his home in Ukraine. It occurred to me that we may never see each other again. But he reassured me that we shall meet again in person and, knowing that he has never let me nor anyone else down, I look forward to that time.

May everybody facing transitions in their life feel the love that I feel.