It was in the 1940s after we emerged the victor in World War II; and not only a winner but a world power. We initiated the Marshall Plan, named after one of most respected and decorated General Officers of that war. It was to rebuild Europe after the devastation and carnage of the land battles fought to defeat Hitler. We were the cock of the walk and everyone loved us.
It was a time when we could do anything. The country was on the move with thousands of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen returning home to start families, go to school under the GI Bill, buying houses and demanding goods that were unobtainable during the war and were dazzled by the new goods that resulted from wartime research and development. The pill companies were not selling fear on TV, no one was afraid of anything. We were a cocky bunch and couldn’t wait for our chance to make a grab for the brass ring.
I was an emerging teenager from a solid, loving family without a care in the world who had found that girls were another question altogether, changed from the tomboys they used to be. I fell in love about every two weeks that first summer I came home from boarding school. Everyone hung out at the pool and Club Room at Oglebay Park. It was where dates were made and transportation was arranged i.e., who could get a family car. Most of this activity was around the Wednesday and Saturday night dances held at the Pine Room with the big bands of Earl Summers, Jr., Niles Carp and a couple of others. Those dances were crowded with tables outside on the lawn with white tablecloths. The guys were all dressed in sport coats and ties, the girls in off-the-shoulder dresses to show off carefully cultivated tans.
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There was one who was an early sweetheart but that changed subtly over the years to a close and valued friend. Though we went our different ways, to colleges, married our loves, had children, grandchildren and never lived in the same town again, we were friends for more than 70 years, with the values we learned in Wheeling, W.Va., being the common denominator. During our older years, we loved to share news of people we had known back in those magical days of new discoveries, as we moved in different directions in different states and different countries.
I have always considered myself to be extremely blessed/lucky and having her as a “permanent” friend is tangible evidence of that.
Her son called yesterday. She died yesterday afternoon very peacefully.
So, another chapter in my book is completed. I don’t know of anyone left to call.
Muriel Bruning Sheppe, 1930- 2018.
• Bill Hogan, born and raised in Wheeling, W.Va., is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and worked in the worlds of finance, real estate and alcoholism rehabilitation. Bill has six children and three grandchildren. He and his second wife, Susan Hogan, served in the U.S. Peace Corps from 1987-90 in Benin, West Africa. Now retired, he is a trustee of the Schenk Foundation, an artist, a writer and self-proclaimed “highly skilled dispenser of bull.”