JUST LIKE OLD TIMES
THE SUMMER OF '99
It all started back in 1999, we were a small group of teenaged kids working with the community under a well established “adult” group from Lock Haven, PA, with Lou being our “leader”. As a group we enjoyed doing community services, even though we weren’t delinquents. The fact that we didn’t “have” to do the work is what kept us motivated. Along with the harsh fact that we all came from dysfunctional homes and the services we provided kept us away from home. Our parents thought we would stay out of trouble running with this group, but the group felt that they didn’t need us any longer.
Since Lou had already been affiliated with an internet group called Lost Solace. And Lou had already mentioned us to Lost Solaces leader in casual conversation. Lou decided he would start his own kids group and we would be called the Lost Solace Kids. The leader of Lost Solace was so impressed by our dedication to our community, he was honored to have our group affiliated with his. So Lou decided that we would all resign from our, now former, group and from Christmas Eve 1999 on would be called “The Lost Solace Kids”.
A favorite saying of mine....See if you can find when I used it in another newsletter....
"If you don't like someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, they're a mile away, and you have their shoes."
A New Millennium, A New “Us”
A Walk Down Memory Lane....
In January 2000, we officially became the Lost Solace Kids and have never looked back. On the third we held our first election of office, where I became our first president. Being that I had been in the group the longest, I elected myself, and everyone else agreed that I would make a fine president. And after having to tell Lou and the other members, repeatedly, the you cant put certain things in articles, because you MAY offend someone, I also carried over the office of ethical advisor from our previous group. My duties were endless, but I have always been the “den mother” for lack of better words, even in my adult life.
The year 2000 was the best. Lou moved from an attic apartment into another cramped space, where he shared a kitchen with another roommate. And we all crammed around a little round table in the kitchen to have our meetings. Occasionally we would have to sit in the hallway and sing like we were around a campfire. We did a lot of events that year, and even donated money to the homeless shelter and the local SPCA. (I’m a sucker for animals.) We continued to do some of the same things we did with the other group, only with less tension, because we didn’t have to answer to anyone. We could finally be ourselves. And to tell you the truth, we did more than we could have ever imagined!
At the time it seemed like we (the kids) were using the group as an excuse to leave for a weekend here and there. And our meetings every weekend at Lou’s kitchen, sometimes seemed pointless. We would all sit around and talk about things that were important in our lives, and at some point Lou would call me meeting to order and we would all listen to him talk for a few minutes, about Erica not doing an article, or my phone call to him at 2 am. All those things being the norm for our lives at that point. And every so often we would all meet up to do a project, which took a lot less time than we would tell our parents, but we NEVER got into any trouble. And now I can see how important the group really is. I know we always did do good for the community, and helped a lot of teenagers from all different backgrounds come together. But looking back, what would we have been doing if we wouldn’t have spent so much time with Lou and the group? We had a lot of fun adventures, and we wrote a lot of articles about them. But the articles never did any justice to the lessons learned from those projects. I mean, even though we may have only done 2 projects a month, that is 24 projects a year to help out the people of whatever community it was where we helped. And for at least 24 days out of that year we were making memories that we will probably NEVER forget (I say at least because there were many other days we made memories too).
One of our favorite adventures that strike up memories is the Cancer Society Relay for Life. This was a project that we all looked forward to ALL year. We loved helping people grieve and cope with their losses, and supporting the survivors. We LOVED seeing all the other supporters walking, and all the people who donated for the cause. Our favorite part was selling the (insert name of what it is called) for people to remember a loved one or a survivor. And making the balloon arch that the people walked through to get to the track. I even, one year, went to the relay in my prom dress after the prom. Lou has pictures of it!!
My other favorite project was our trip to Slatington to Lou’s parents farm. We always stopped at Jim Thorpe to see the big chunk of coal. And we got our picture taken on top of it a few times. The trip always brought about a lot of FUN! When we would get there Lou’s dad would take us for a tractor ride to see a the Christmas trees, because they lived on a Christmas tree farm. We would run around with “Rudy the Dancing Beagle” and find the cats and kittens. Then we would walk into the trees to find one for Lou’s apartment or wherever. And I would ALWAYS fall and cut my hand. It was a tradition that I would fall and cut my hand on every trip or project.
We did a lot of things for the community, and as a group. Don’t get me wrong, those things have had an impact of my life too, but the Relay for Life, and the trips to Lou’s parents Christmas Tree Farm will always have a special place in my heart and memory. Just a few other projects and memories that I can ramble about for hours about are the Regatta and singing on stage to “Love Shack”, our camping trip where the homeless person made a sandwich, and then the next year when that drunk lady was stumbling around on the road. And how about when we went winter camping at Lake Wallenpaupack and we all got up and left before dawn.. Ha ha. Us all bawling together at the annual Candle Light Vigil held for domestic violence survivors, because we could all relate. Answering “Dear Santa” letters at the library, fighting the urge to be “put on the naughty list”. And we cannot forget the “home coming” of Lou’s, then, bride-to-be, after he proposed to her through this very newsletter, and she said YES! And how we all made signs to hold up along the road to welcome our new “mom” to Lock Haven. Then being Lou’s best man in him and Michelle’s wedding (now THAT is once in a lifetime). But, hey, I could reminisce for ever, but you would all be bored, so I am going to stop now, and read our past 100 newsletters and laugh and cry about all my fun memories about being a kid. I suggest you should do the same!
I have a lot of memories from this group. I grew up with the members, we were best friends. And for the most part, still am. It has been a few years since I have seen a lot of the kids from the group. When I moved away back in January of 2002, I kind of lost touch with everyone. It as hard leaving, but people have to grow up sometime, and there were already a few of the members that had moved on to start their families. Not that I was doing that at that point, but it was a different phase of my life. I had gotten my drivers license, and was able to still be an active member. Lou made me Bureau Head of the Correspondents, so I could still participate. But I soon, too, started my own family and moved on. Sometimes I wish that I would have taken the time to stay in the group, but my life is far too busy right now. I will always have a close friendship with Lou and the “kids”, even though we have all grown up.
-Angel with a Pitchfork
-And Lou’s guardian angel
THE LS KIDS REUNION
On Sunday, April 20th, 2008, the LS Kids had a reunion to commemorate the 100th issue of the JJJ. Although not all of the old members could show up, Vesta Jones, ex-president of the group, was able to come. Erica Elliott and Barenda Geyer, ex-members, also called in to tell Lou they couldn't make it. Ginger White, home from college this weekend, dropped by to say hello.
As for the current members, most were able to come. Including myself, along with Meghan Rockey, Tiffany Allen, Shelby Sander, Crissy Miller, Rachel Mazza, Ericka Conklin, Robin Prescott, and of course Lou.
We all had a very nice time. Lou grilled food on the porch, and it was fun reminiscing about earlier years and projects. Although everyone couldn't make it, they were remembered.
And as we were all sitting aorund eating and gossiping, Lou was snapping pictures, including one pic as a group, including Ida Yost!
All in all, it turned out great, and maybe I'll be around for another one.
MEMBERS WHO HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE
Since the LS Kids were created in 2000, quite a few Kids have passed in and out of Lou's front door. Each one was different from every other, and each changed the dynamic of the team slightly. But each one was motivated by a desire to help, to change things, to create a difference bigger than any one individual member.
Each one affected the team. But some changed things forever.
Which ones would it be? If you had to pick just a couple of Kids who have driven the course of the group, who would they be?
Vesta Jones. Vesta, the first president and founding member of the group, made several decisions that affected the way the team was run. Helping to set up the promotion process, create interest, and publicize, Vesta was instrumental in making the LS Kids what they are. Vesta recruited friends, bringing in more Kids than any other member. Vesta was directly or indirectly responsible for recruiting the majority of the group during the early years.
Debbie Benfield. The longest-serving member of the group, Debbie began as a staffer and held nearly every position before finally graduating to become an adult assistant. Debbie, more than any other member, has made this group her life, beginning as a young Kid, growing up, and then sticking around to help Lou with the newer ones.
Tiffanie Saar. Tiffanie is, so far, the only active LS Kid to die. Killed in a car accident in 2002, she will always be remembered.
These are some of the members who have made a difference. But each LS Kid has contributed in some way to making the group what it is. All of us older ex-Kids have fond memories. And if this group lasts another hundred years, it will be because of the younger Kids who paved the way.
RHYME AND REASON
The Beginning Of Forever
A path is a road..
A road is way.
And a way leads to a journey.
Every step I take, with every breath along the way.
This is my path I'm leading.
Every smile I play,
Every laugh I sing.
Every traitor tear that falls,
is a memory,
That reminds me of my journey,
Along the path and road and way of my life.
Every word I write,
every pen I empty,
every paper I discard.
Was a piece of a memory,
Of the journey on my pathway road of life.
A road is hard,
A path is bumpy,
and a way is never the same.
Trip and fall, scrape your knee,
And remember every scar that leads to a reminder,
of your path to a road to a way of your own journey.
Every bed is to sleep,
Every sleep is to dream,
And dreams are the begining,
Of a path that leads to a road,
that leads to way,
That creates the journey placed before your feet.
The JJJ Is:
Assistant Leaders: Tiffany Allen, Debbie Benfield
LS Core Team: Cris Schedin, Meghan Rockey
President: Biz Albright
Vice-President: Rachel Mazza
Secretary: Ericka Conklin
Quarter master: Kristen Withers
Staff: Shelby Sander, MarKel Wheeland, Lacey Richner, Katie Bottorf, Bobby Smith, Taylor Wheeland, Robin Prescott, Ida Yost
Distant Correspondents: Shadow Snow, MacKenzie Brundage, Regina Spence, Chelsey Crouchley, Goth Lizz
Foreign Bureau: Janice Marco
Well. On behalf of myself and all of the past and present LS Kids, I'd like to welcome all of you to the one hundredth issue of the JJJ. It's been an interesting ride, and I'm amazed that we've made it this far.
Interestingly, eight years ago when I started the Kids, I sort of had the half-formed thought that I would take one group of Kids, raise them to adulthood, and retire quietly. I never planned that they'd grow up and move on, and I'd still be here, taking in a whole new bunch. I'm on something like my fourth generation of Kids now (roughly speaking; they kind of mix together a bit) with no end in sight.
I remember the early days, when we'd first seceded from the original group, and were going off on our own. I was renting a tiny place on Bald Eagle Street then, and we held our meetings pretty much sprawled across the floor in one room. There was something about it that reminded me of scenes from the old war movies. You know the ones---The rebels all gather together in a small barn someplace to make their plans against the bad guys in power.
We've been through a lot together, the Kids and I. Years' worth of projects and field trips. A lot of ex-girlfriends and finally a wedding. September 11, 2001. The death of my mother. Treasure hunts and ghosts. Summits with the adults. It's been an interesting ride.
I've managed to rack up a lot of memories, which is sort of unsettling when I compare them to the past. At the reunion, we had a responsible, caring foster mother....But to me, she'll always be little Vesta, the wiseass buying French Fries. And we had a productive, employed member of society, whom I'll always remember as sullen little Debbie, sitting on the steps in my kitchen. And the military intelligence officer at the reunion will always be little Biz to me, the one who used to climb up on things and not be able to get back down.
In our first issue, less than two weeks after we'd quit our initial group for Lost Solace, Ginger White wrote an article in which she stated,"We are the Lost Solace Kids." It felt funny to say that then---We weren't used to it. But we are now, and the name doesn't feel strange to me anymore.
Since those early days, we've become an important part of this community. There are groups who would have a hard time replacing us if we didn't show up for their projects. We've gone from being a small band of rebel teenagers to one of the reputable organizations in this city.
We've done a lot, grown a lot, and been through a lot. And when the LS Kids hit their next milestone issue, chances are I'll still be here, remembering them all as they were, and looking forward to the new ones in the future.