Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Consistent Mystery

Every New Years Day, I look forward to two things. Gifts and good wishes from family are one. A birthday greeting from John “Jake” Jirschele is the other.

Once again, the family came through. So did Jake, at about 8 a.m. on January 1.

Jake Jirschele lived a couple of blocks up the street from my childhood home in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. He was in the class behind mine in high school. I haven’t seen him for about 50 years, but I remember him well. Obviously, he remembers something about me very well.

Jake was consistent, as I recall. He stroked every shot as hard as possible in Spike’s Pool Hall, whether it was a long one or a four-inch “gimmee.” He made a lot of them, and bounced a few cue balls off the walls in the process. He fired off shots from outside the circle (three-pointers nowadays) with reckless abandon on the basketball court. He made a few of them. When he itched, he invariably scratched. Where? Well, we won’t go into that.

When it comes to my birthdays, Jake has been equally consistent for a long time. We connected to the Internet as soon as that became possible. Early on, we added Jake’s addy to our list and knew he had ours, but we rarely corresponded. The first New Years Day we could receive e-mail, to my surprise, Jake sent me a happy birthday message.

How did he know? The first greetings arrived many years before my birth date became readily available to the world through this Blog and, more recently, via Facebook. Jake has remembered the big day every year—probably about 15 times—since his first message. Each time I ask him how he knew New Years Day was my birthday. He has never answered the question. Either he has a very long memory or a well-maintained calendar.

The Jirschele birthday message always includes wishes for good fortune in the year ahead. We’re planning on making those wishes come true.

Everything here is Jake, Jake.

For you youngsters, that saying is said to have become popular in the 1920s and still was heard often during my teenage years. “Everything is Jake” means “everything is OK.” I hope it applies to John Jirschele as well as to our present situation and our prospects for 2011. Maybe Jake will even answer my question this year.


Sightingsat60 said...

Nice post . . . there's no friend like an old friend. said...

Wonderful to connect with an old friend. Thanks for sharing.

Dick Klade said...

Mystery solved! Jake indeed does have a remarkable memory. In an e-mail response to this post, he recalled 1955 as the year he first learned of my birthday.

I was working as an intern at the local newspaper that summer. Jake and I "were out and about having a couple of beers." We somehow got on the subject of birthdays and learned ours were only a month apart, yet we had been in different classes in school. That was because I skipped a year in grade school.

Jake has remembered my birthday ever since. A memory that can reach back 50 years is a pretty remarkable thing.

Jirschele aptly signed his e-mail:

"Like you said--Everything is Jake."


Dick Klade said...

More than one New Years birthday saluter exists. Here's an e-mail comment from high school classmate DeDe Amelse:

Enjoyed the blog. A belated Happy Birthday. Elaine Koth's birthday is the 1st of Jan. too. I call her every year and sing happy birthday to her no matter where I am. Gee didn't know Jake and I had that in common. Happy New Year! Dede

Dick Klade said...

Jake is well-remembered by several. Here's an e-mail comment received from Dave Devenport:

"I enjoyed your 'ode' to Jake Jirschele. He was a childhood friend of mine as well. Many hours spent with Jake, Carl Theiler, Eltie Obey playing ball and also playing that cardboard baseball game with the spinning wheel (forgot the name of it) at somebody's house for hours. I recall Jake hitting a few of those long shots. It's been over 50 years since I've seen him, too, but some guys you never forget.

Oh, and belated Happy Birthday. A New Year's baby! It was bound to be a good year. (Mine is Jan. 11, just in case you want to wish me a Happy Birthday)."

Well, I don't want to contribute to the birthday greetings thing getting out of hand, but I do owe Dave belated congratulations.

He was a talented multi-sport athlete. A little more than a year ago, He was inducted into our high school's Athletic Hall of Fame. I played a little baseball with him and know something of his exploits in other sports. It was a well-deserved honor.

Way to go, Dave!