In an instant Eddy was gone. Heart attack. His sister Kay called with the news. I remember the first time I met Eddy and Kay and their three other siblings, Larry, Becky and Susan. It was Christmas 1960. I was six years old. The doorbell rang and when the door opened the Hogge family began singing Christmas carols. They invited me to join them in caroling around the block and I was ushered out the door by my parents.
The next half-dozen summers were spent with Kay and me shuffling back and forth between our houses in childhood play and sleepovers. We fought in army dugouts, rode in a wagon train, went to the moon, and lived vicariously through Barbie and Ken in my Barbie Dream House. Though Eddy was my age, I really didn’t pay much attention, he was simply Kay’s older brother.
When Jeanne was born in 1965 there were now six kids at the Hogge house and six belonging to the Howards down the street. I honestly believed the neighbors thought the Catholics and Baptists were having a contest and the Hogge’s evened the score.
My early exposure to Catholicism was on a Saturday afternoon when Mr. Hogge took me along with his kids to spend our weekly allowance at Perry’s five and dime. (Yes, those were the days when you could actually buy something for a nickel or dime.) Afterwards we stopped by Saint Alice Catholic Church for them to attend confession. I was perplexed by Kay and Becky scouring the floorboard of the station wagon to find anything white to cover their heads. Kay straightened a wadded tissue and placed it on top of her head and I waited in the car until they all returned from this unusual event.
The Hogge children attended private school until Eddy and I entered the seventh grade and then for the next half-dozen years Hogge and Howard were in the same homeroom. This meant every day of the school year we were in a short class period usually sitting in alphabetical order. Eddy eased right into public school and was immediately well-liked for his genuine affable personality.
The following year, Eddy was quite popular and our Student Council President. As part of his duty he was the one to reveal our Western Day Queen with a kiss on her cheek. He paraded behind the line of seated cowgirls with their cowboys all dressed in western attire. I was one of those cowgirls hopefully anticipating queenship yet knew it couldn’t possibly be me. Eddy passed behind me and on down the line of seated couples. I could only hear the sound of his footsteps and see the anxious crowd in the stands. He bent forward and kissed me on the cheek. My cowboy said, “I didn’t think you’d make it.” And Eddy said, “I never had a doubt.” That was the best thing Eddy Hogge ever said to me.
And forty-eight fast-flying years later he was gone at the age of sixty-one.
I asked Kay what I could do to help. “Would you go through the high school yearbooks and take photos of Eddy for the memorial?” Those books of treasured memories sit conveniently on the shelf. It took longer than I anticipated as I perused and reminiscence. Eddy was a class favorite, on the student council every year, president of the Key Club and sang in the school choir. He played varsity football, baseball and was an honor student. I thought of the contrast: choir boy and tough athlete realizing Eddy was true to himself. I did not remember all of the activities Eddy participated in school that are forever his history.
I remember that kid down the street who finally talked his mother into allowing him to have a dog. He had a summer job mowing lawns and had saved his money. He got a puppy and named her Dolly. After having her “fixed” Dolly kept chewing out her stitches and died. Eddy cried.
I remember the time he accidentally shot me in the eye with a rubber band. I went home embarrassed, crying. Shortly afterward the doorbell rang and there stood Eddy and his dad. Eddy apologized.
I remember how tan and tired Eddy looked the summers he worked paving roads. Eddy persevered.
I remember his smile, his cheerful demeanor, the “bubblegum” tunes like “Red Rubber Ball” Eddy sang.
I remember the redundant typical written phrase in everyone’s yearbook: “You will go far in life.” About Eddy Hogge: “I never had a doubt!”