Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day Eighteen-Long Beach 70's Reunion

My two sisters, their spouses, my nephew and niece, my husband and me departed from Jackson, Mississippi airport and flew to Los Angeles. My parents lived in Mississippi and were kind enough to take care of my two children and my sister's three. My younger two had not yet been born. Our trip to Los Angeles was uneventful at least to my memory. We enjoyed each others company and looked forward to seeing friends we had not seen in a long time.

I really didn't know what to expect. I hoped that friendships would be rekindled, at least I thought so. Upon arrival at the hotel we saw many familiar faces and had the initial, "Hey, how ARE you?!" "Gosh, has it been 14 years?" "You look SO good." "You haven't aged a bit!" You get the picture. Of course, many of us were still quite young and still had the world before us. Since the reunion spanned over a decade there were people who graduated in 1970 all the way to those who graduated in 1979. My three sisters and I all graduated from ASIJ during that era. My older brother graduated in, I believe, 1968 or 1969, and my younger brother graduated in 1980.

At this point in my life I still had not shared my experiences with Mr. J to anyone except my husband. At least I didn't recall that I had. My parents still didn't know, neither did either of my sisters. So, going to this reunion for me was simply a way to reconnect to friends and have a good time.

One afternoon I was sitting at the pool with my older sister when up walked two people I recognized. One was someone I had admired from afar. Very attractive. She had a wonderfully gentle spirit. One of those people you wish you could be like. The second person was someone who I had not counted on seeing. You see, she was the girl who let me put my mattress next to hers. That was when the abuse stopped. I was delighted, excited, overwhelmed, and really words can't express what I felt. We spoke and I asked her if she remembered me. She didn't really seem to. I thanked her for protecting me during a very difficult time. I think I explained to her what she had done, but she didn't seem to remember and that was that.  Her name is Michele Connor. She seemed to be in another world.

The reunion went on. Because the reunion committee had pulled the nomination of Jack from the Favorite Teacher award, no mention of him came up, at least not openly. I'm sure there were conversations going around with people saying, "Wow, I thought Mr. Moyer would have won that." Any other conversations I was not privy to. This is also my memory of the event and there may have been other things that happened I just don't remember. Besides, this is only my story and without a doubt there could be a whole lot more shared by others.

I do remember two particular things that happened during our stay in Long Beach. One morning I went down to the lobby to get coffee. It was pretty early and I was hopeful that I wouldn't run into anyone. I proceeded to get my coffee out of the common coffee pot that was in the lobby for hotel guests when a Japanese lady came up and began asking me a question in broken English. So I said something to her in Japanese - can't remember what. He reaction was hysterical. Her face lit up and she first responded with a long, resounding, "OOOOOOOOOO." Emphasis on the "O" as in the japanese "go". She then said, "Gaijin ga, nihongo shabere masu?" - translated - "The foreigner can speak Japanese?" I started laughing and said, "Koko wa America desu. Watashi wa Gaijin janai desu. Anata wa Gaijin desu." - translated - "This is America. I am not the foreigner, you are the foreigner." She just laughed and laughed. I've told this story time and time again to different people and every time all involved get a big kick out of it.

Another memory I have is when my oldest sister and I were running one morning and I began telling her about my story with the reunion committee about Jack being one of the favorite teachers. As I was telling her I could tell her body was confused and we stopped running and she asked me, "Janet, what happened?" It was then I realized, no one else knew about what had happened. I guess I thought that all my family knew. How? I don't know. So, I began telling her my story. I don't know exactly what she did with it at that point but I finally was getting comfortable to talk about it.

This was in 1990 - twenty years later.

© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. This is your sister...I was shocked! I always knew that Mr. J had his favorites but didn't know that he was abusing them. Since I was seven years older I first thought that I should have seen it! I felt ashamed that I had thought negatively about these girls in high school because they were favorites. I felt ashamed that I had liked and even respected Mr. J. I had no idea my little sister was going through any of this. Immediately I wanted to spread the word and get the secret out but out of respect for Janet I kept my mouth shut...for a while.