The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Searching For Joe Schwoeppe

From Left: Me, Carrisa Swift, Rachel Winstead

Parties always seem to migrate into kitchens. And the Owensboro High School Class of 1995 reunion was no different. It was where the booze was being poured, so it was natural to gravitate there. Also, the DJ had turned the lights out in the main room, and I didn't want to dance.

My friend Seamus and I were talking with Rachel Winstead in the kitchen. She was on her way out, giving everyone hugs. We asked her about her. Her eyes lit up when she talked about her little four year old daughter. She pulled out a picture of her and told us she had cerebral palsy. She told us about how much she loved her daughter and you could see in her eyes, you could see how hard it must be but you also see how much of a blessing her daughter was to her.

She was always beautiful in high school. But now, that look in her eyes made her look younger and more beautiful than ever.

From Left: Seamus Allman and John Pelphrey

Seamus lives in a commune. He lives a simple life, though he said that as of late he has been having some pain in his hand. He has been going to different doctors to try and figure it out. His commune recycles and makes tofu. Everyone shares 16 cars. Whenever someone needs to use one, they use it.

The funny thing is, most people would see someone living in a commune and think, wow, how do they even get by. But Seamus was voted most likely to succeed. Maybe Seamus isn't a lawyer criss-crossing the United States and working on cases for 80 hours a week. Maybe Seamus doesn't even have a 20 dollar bill in his pocket. But I think that the honor of most likely to succeed was well deserved.

Seamus has succeeded. Maybe not the way most people think. But he has. He laughs a lot. He smiles a lot. He still understands the way the world works, he is just been brave enough to search out his own path.

From Left: John Pelphrey, Me, Jarrod Basham, Seamus Allman

The disappointing thing about the reunion was the fact that there weren't that many people there. Evidently a lot of people RSVP'ed. But not a lot of people showed up.

The good thing is that the people that I was really interested in seeing, were there. Sure I would have liked to seen a few others. But for the most part, the people I really cared about, were there.

The Smoker's Group: Top Row From Left: Chad Drennan, Jimmy Wellman, Aaron Wilson, John Pelphrey, and Jarrod Basham, Front Row From Left: Matt Shrewsberry, John Paul Cowherd, Seamus Allman, Me

A lot of the guys went downstairs to smoke some of Jarrod's cigars. While down there, this big dude with dreadlocks comes walking down the sidewalk.

We were milling around, when this big dude comes strolling up. I was talking with Jarrod. I heard Matt Shrewsberry yell out.

"John Paul Cowherd!"

I see this big dude with dreadlocks, and I think no way. He starts to laugh. Yup, that is John Paul. The laugh is unmistakable.

The same guy that after gym class always used to ask me if he could borrow "50 penny cents."

We invited him to stick around with us an smoke a cigar. He hung around with us for a while, then went upstairs with his wife.

We started to finish out cigars so, we began to migrate back upstairs. The DJ was packing things up and everyone else is starting to clean up.

It was then that a caught a flash of a nipple. Everyone tried to persuade this dude, who shall remain nameless, to put his shirt back on. I started to tell a joke. I look over and the dude was standing up, taking off his belt.

This of course was a bad sign, because once the belt comes off, the pants are only hanging up by sheer willpower. I begin to laugh, which almost everyone is by now. I turn around to say something to one of my friends, I am sure I was about to say something witty about a half naked man, when I hear everyone gasp. I turn around and see nothing but an ass on the ground.

There is a line from Norman Maclean's excellent memoir "A River Runs Through It," in which he says:

"You have never really seen an ass until you have seen two sunburned asses on a sandbar in the middle of a river."

Well, to steal a little bit from Maclean, you have never really seen an ass until you have seen an ass lying prostrate, like they describe in the Bible, on the cold tile floor at your ten year class reunion."

This was the exact moment that everyone knew that the class reunion was coming to a close.

John looking confused and saying something to his wife Kelly, who took most of the pictures.

John is the only person from my high school that I have kept up with for the past 10 years. He is a pretty funny dude. He is a very talented musician, though he doesn't play in a band anymore. He is married to a wonderful woman. Kelly is an amazing artist. It is funny to see the two of them interact with each other. Whenever I am around John always pops off at the mouth to Kelly and I always laugh because I know he will get in trouble for it after I leave. This weekend was no different.

I like Kelly. She laughs at my joke. You should have seen her face when I told her that my flight was delayed because the engine fell off. It was priceless.

Jarrod and Me

Jarrod and I were friends in high school pretty much for one reason. We were alphabetically inseparable. Our lockers were right next to each other. We sat in alphabetical order in most of our classes.

I haven't kept up with Jarrod like I should have. He has gone through a lot the past few years. He got married then he lost his father. I wish I would have been there for him.

He is a good friend to have. He comes in my dad's motorcycle shop every now and then, and that is the only reason why I knew about the class reunion at all.

I know everyone always says that they are going to be better at emailing and calling but never do. I hope in ten years, I don't have to catch back up with Jarrod.

Seamus, Me, Aaron Wilson, and Class President Sarah Loucks

There was a picture of Joe Schwoeppe in our yearbook. No one could remember him. Sarah said that they searched and searched for any information on him. But they came to the realization that he didn't even exist. Aaron Wilson said that he thought it was a joke in the year book, that someone was just made up. Chad Drennan seemed to remember him and remembered that he transferred to one of the county schools.

I don't know which one is true.

I can't remember Joe Schwoeppe. But I met a lot of Joe Schwoeppe's at the reunion. I hugged people that I never knew or talked to back in high school. In some cases, I was their Joe Schwoeppe. I tried to convince people that I actually went to school with them. I poured drinks with guys who I might have had a gym class with. I shared a cigar with someone who threatened to kick my ass for a reason that is now 10 years old and long forgotten. I talked to a person who I might have spoken with 2 times in my life, even though I grew up less than a block away from him.

Funny how time can make you forget all that stuff. Or maybe it just makes you not care.

All those faces in a crowd, sometimes you might have even known their name. But you just walked right by them in high school. Maybe it was because you hung out in a different group. Maybe it was because in those awkward teenage years, you are still figuring out that you have something in common with 95 percent of the people in the world. I don't know.

Now, it just seemed so easy to talk to anyone.

I guess we all have our Joe Schwoeppe's.

(Thanks to all those who put forth a lot of hard work in on this reunion. I am pretty sure that everyone that was there enjoyed it. I sure am glad that I went. Hopefully for the 20th year reunion you can find Joe.)


Blogger johnferg99 said...


well said my friend. seamus visited with me on monday after the reunion and relayed to me all the funny stories. its funny how important high school friends become far after you've lost touch with them. so, here's to our friendship.
give me a shout at
i'd love to catch up with pelphry, and arron wilson as well.


john ferguson

10:01 AM  
Blogger johnferg99 said...

or not...



5:21 PM  
Anonymous Cindy Pelphrey said...

I'm really enjoying your blog! You sure have a way with words! I'm glad you are the third son who keeps the other two straight, crooked, or at least laughing!
Thanks for being such a good friend to our family.
Cindy P.

9:46 AM  

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