Getting lost down memory lane


I was in Columbus at a Barnes & Noble recently, perusing the history section. Big history guy here as you know. Anyway, I’d grabbed a couple books and was headed out when I heard my name being called… “Dave? Is that you?”

I turned to look and three women were walking towards me, one of which was the person who’d called my name. They were well dressed, attractive ladies who appeared to be on a weekday shopping excursion. Who they were was a mystery to me.

“Dave! It’s been years! Where have you been? What have you been up to?”

I’ve been in these situations before with men, women and kids, and my usual modus operandi is to pretend I know them, ask some relevant questions, and sort feel them out with the hope that something will click in my addled brain and I’ll remember to whom it is I’m talking.

In this case, though, nothing was clicking.

As we talked, though, I did garner information. I hadn’t seen this person in over 25 years, she was married to an attorney in Columbus, and although she had that psychology degree she’d worked so hard for she’d never used it.

Still, nothing. How did I know this person? Through family? School? Politics? Sports? I was lost, man.

I must have been looking at her a little too intently, because she finally paused, cocked her head, and said this: “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Crap. I’d been called out. At this point I figured I could either say, “Of course I do!” and take my chances, but I was afraid she’d say “What’s my name, then?” and I’d then be exposed as not only an insensitive, forgetful fool, but also a liar.

So, I decided to be honest…

“No, I don’t. I’m terrible with faces. I’m so sorry,” I said.

It was then she dropped the hammer: “We dated for three months in college.”


She stared.

I stared.

Her friends stared.

Somewhere, a loon called.

What to do? Well, what I wanted to do was crawl under the nearby Nora Roberts book display, get in the fetal position, and suck my thumb.

Instead, I sort of stammered another apology, because really, what could be said at that point? Three months? She wasn’t a casual acquaintance, a friend of a friend, even a business associate. And we hadn’t gone out on a few dates. We’d dated for three freakin’ months.

Good God.

The fact that her two friends witnessed this whole ordeal didn’t help a whole lot, and after a few stilted, awkward goodbyes I got a stilted, awkward hug and she left, undoubtedly muttering under her breath to her friends about what a horrible, insensitive person I’d become.

All I could do was watch them go, shaking my head at my callousness, unintentional as it was.

And you know something? I still don’t remember that girl.

The blizzard of 1978

Disclaimer: This story took place over 45 years ago. As I’ve admitted before, I was young and stupid then. I strongly recommend that nobody acts the way I did back then. Or now for that matter.

When the Great Blizzard of 1978 hit I was living at 178 W. 8th Ave., Apartment C, in Columbus, Ohio, just off The Ohio State University Campus. My apartment was in an old house that was split up into three apartments.

A friend and I shared the top floor and other students occupied the other two apartments. Several people I knew lived nearby. Anyway, when the blizzard hit in the middle of the night I thought the place was going to blow up. We’re talking 75 mph winds if I remember correctly.

When the sun came up the next morning the blizzard was still going strong. Everything was buried under snow, and I mean buried. Ohio State was closed. Hell, 51 people died and Major General James C. Clem of the Ohio National Guard described the storm as “comparable to a nuclear attack.” One man reported having to dig down a foot to put his key in his front door. Semi-trucks were actually buried off of I-71.

Anyway, bad.

Naturally my father was worried about me, so he called early the next morning to check on me. Here’s the conversation he later recounted to me. Several times over the years, in fact:


“Hello, this is Dave’s father. I know it’s bad up there and I wanted to check on my son to make sure he’s OK. Can you have him come to the phone?”

“Well, I would but he’s out getting beer.”


Oh boy. That didn’t do much to restore old Ralph’s faith in his only son. I hadn’t been the greatest kid up to that point anyway, then he calls to check on me in the middle of the greatest blizzard in Ohio history only to be told by my friend that I’m on a beer run.

And what — he couldn’t tell him I was helping an elderly neighbor shovel her sidewalk or something? Maybe over at the local Red Cross volunteering my services? Geez.

What my housemate didn’t tell him was that I’d slogged down to the corner store. It was owned by some guy who’d stayed open to gouge fools like my friends and I and take advantage of our needs. It wasn’t like I was driving or anything. Besides, somebody had to go. Classes were cancelled and it was a crisis. It just so happened that the crisis, for us, was that we were out of beer.

Heck, I was sort of a hero really.

Of sorts.

Dave Shoemaker is a retired teacher, athletic director and basketball coach with most of his professional years spent at Paint Valley. He also served as the national basketball coach for the island country of Montserrat in the British West Indies. He lives in Southern Ohio with his best friends and companions, his dogs Sweet Lilly and Hank. He can be reached at

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