I have been privileged to have some great correspondence with Bruce Antle for several years. He is a wonderful writer, must be all those sermons he had to write over the years! And he has many growing-up-in-Kirkwood stories to share. He and wife Darlene Petri, KHS66, are retired and living in Missouri these days. I'm going to publish some of our correspondence, but mostly want to share an article he wrote for me but I'm having trouble getting it posted due to the format it's in so for now I'm going to give you a glimpse into their lives as told by Bruce. Keep reading below and you'll see I finally got the story he wrote posted. Here are some random snippets:
Since being retired (still do a little real estate with friends and family) and some pulpit supply, but mostly take care of Darlene and that is my primary job. 4-2-22
It is hard to believe we are in the "4th quarter" of our life or the "last chapter" or on the "25 yard line" with 25 and goal to go, all of us within field goal range if we are so lucky. Darlene has outlived her parents and on my side 85 seems to be the magic number, so barring anything unforeseen we should have another 10 years of somewhat independent living.
Darlene and I are both doing fine. Thanks for asking. We both have our issues, but who doesn't at this age? Mine seem to be below my knees with what they call neuropathy. One foot doesn't want to cooperate like it is supposed to. I have conversations with it, but it wants to be lazy. Going down is easy, getting up needs a helping hand. Probably caused by all those years I used to jog or when I was doing a lot of physical labor. I used to love to run, but what can be good for the heart, we later discover, if we live long enough, can be tough on other parts of the body. Last year I asked Darlene to pick me up a cane for balance. 4-3-22
It [some physical ills] started about 10 years ago for both of us and like age, progressive. Darlene is still my 16 year old girlfriend and for someone turning 74 next month still has a cute figure and as pretty as ever. We eat sensibly which helps and we enjoy each other's company which is also very helpful, especially the last couple of years with Covid.
This is the wonderful response I received when I asked Bruce to write the charming story of his and Darlene's beginning as a couple:
The last person who asked me to do so might be sorry she did.
As a genealogist, he is one of my idols! I would love to do what he has done but I keep myself too busy to do it! Isn't he just amazing???
After Bruce sent me his article I had two suggestions, he said the number of graduates in our class was about 1,000, but it was really about 785 and he mentioned Cyranos being downstairs from the music store and I corrected him to "down the block" as in 1996 I opened a small antiques shop down the street, DeMun Avenue, so drove by where Cyranos had been 5 or more days a week HOWEVER, he was correct, the restaurant was below the music store and just down the street from other businesses. Here is his response to that message:
Cyrano's was down the street, beneath a music store, later
moved to Big Bend, now in Webster Groves, Old Orchard, and
still has the Cherries Jubilee and World's Fair Eclair, or
at least the last time we ate there which was a couple years
ago. I could have added "down the street," and you are
welcome to do so but figured anyone in our class who went
there would know it. [The mother of the fellow who opened the Cyranos on Big Bend became a pal of mine thru my antiques biz and later the fellow who, with a partner, opened it in Webster was a pal of mine through our mutual membership in the Symphony Volunteer Association! - sooo many connections - sooo typical in Kirkwood and environs! lvr]
Of course that led to a discussion of Tom Holley, whose family owned Grandpa's, earlier Grandpa Pigeon's:
All history is related for those who might be interested. Grandpa Pigeons was also the grandpa I believe of one of our classmates ... Tom Holley. My dad commented he was impressed because he could read Tom's signature, apparently on a purchase order sent to the company and I guess, like me selling ashtrays my dad made, Tom was working for his grandpa at the store. It was a fun store. So many people just scribble their name, my dad was impressed when he learned Tom was a classmate who took the time to legibly write his name. Funny isn't it, what goes through that gray mass above our neck. It has been awhile ... as you know.
Well, as you can see, I was waylaid in getting this posted, a trip to Atlanta, prep for that trip and now after a week, still unpacking. Here is the romantic tale of Bruce and Darlene in his words posted 15 May:
How a Boy from North Met a Girl from Nipher
I guess this story could start as boys standing in line waiting to receive our high school diplomas and asking, “Who is that cute girl?” We had a large graduating class back in 1965. I believe close to 1,000. Add to that number, grades 10 and 11, when KHS was sophomore - senior classes and a combination from North and Nipher Junior High, it was not unusual to NOT know someone. And speaking from a purely boy perspective, KHS had a lot of cute girls!
Darlene came from Nipher. I came from North. My mom, my brother, my cousins Pat and Becky
Wall (KHS 60 & KHS 63) all
attended Nipher. My mom attended when it
was the high school. My cousins not only
attended but later taught at Nipher.
When it was my turn, North Junior High was brand new, and a little further
to walk than Keysor. I lived on a street
called Wilcox, a street off of Essex. Our house was about 3 or 4 blocks from
the high school, depending on if you took the pipe over the ravine to get to my
house and a lot farther to North Junior High. [I had a wonderful high school romance with a resident of Wilcox, whom I used to walk to that pipe over the ravine after school sometimes, then high-tail it back to KHS Essex parking lot to catch my ride home. lvr]
I was in my senior year at KHS when Tom Friel asked if wanted to go to an “away” football game. I
think we were playing Ritenour. We sat on the visitors side and in front of us on Tom’s side were two really cute girls. They were Juniors. Tom seemed to know them both, at least he knew their names and started talking to the one close to him. My eye was on the one farthest from me, a really cute strawberry blond. (I later learned it was a color that often changed.)
On the way home Tom told me her name was Darlene Petri. He remembered her last name, possibly from the associated with what we learned in biology as a Petri dish, named after a famous bacteriologist.
Over the weekend I couldn’t wait for school on Monday in hopes of seeing her. With no luck on Monday or Tuesday, I devised a plan.
I was on the “Call” staff as the business manager and free to come and go to solicit ads for the paper. Mrs. Conley, also my English teacher, led the “Call” as well the “Pioneer” and we would meet for 6th period. I decided to go to the office and ask if a note could be sent to Darlene to meet her at her locker.
Darlene had recently been photographed for the “Pioneer” in a full page layout. The student in the office was more than happy to help out, as well tell me where her locker was located. When Darlene got the note, she had no idea who this Bruce Antle guy was, so after class she raced to her locker hoping to avoid him.
No such luck, I was there to meet her. I was excited. She didn’t know what to do. When I asked if I could carry her books and walk her to the parking lot, she seemed relieved and vaguely remembered me as the “other guy” on the bench next to Tom. She said okay.Our first date was a movie at the Esquire, followed by a flaming Cherries Jubilee downstairs at Cyranos. It was one of those cool, crisp fall evenings. I asked if she would mind if I put the top down? She had never been in a convertible and thought it sounded fun. We rolled up the windows and put the heater on, then a slow ride home down Clayton road, with the stars shining bright in the night sky and soft music playing on the AM car radio from Wood River. It was magical. I drove as slowly as I could not wanting the evening to ever end.
We dated that fall and winter for about 4 months, falling madly and passionately in love. We broke up when things got too serious. 16 & 17 was a little too young for marriage. After graduation I was heading off to college. We would date others, but never stopped seeing each other, knowing if we ever got back together it would be for keeps.Four years later I was standing in a different graduation line. This time from Washington University. In the audience my mom had invited Darlene.
A year later we were married. That was 52 years ago!
Looking back, it was also the first and only time either of us had gone to an “away” football game. We know God had a plan.
Bruce and Darlene