Friday, September 20, 2013

Sts. Kevin and Bobbi of Liverpool

In the spirit of paying it forward,
 Galatians 6:6,  and hopefully just letting someone know they made a difference..

..let me tell you as story.

...or two.

Those of us who are pastors and  teachers  (How did I get to be both?) know those holy and humbling  moments when a parishoner or student comes back to you years later and shares how you impacted them...often without you being aware of it (or even remembering their name!  See  my posts "the story of "Dave the Just and the Am-Vet Thrift Store Theophany (with stunning non-Photoshopped evidence)" and  "I'm their pastor? I don't even know who they are.”)

 In the middle of my ninth grade year, our family moved from Fresno, California to Liverpool, New York.

That one sentence explains a lot of my insanity (:
Suffice to say: Don't ever move your kids across the continent unless you get an audible word from God!(:

It was a cross-cultural move.

It was took years to fully recover.

But it is also one the of the most formative milestones in my life...I'll be unpacking for the rest of my life all that I learned the four years after I unpacked in New York in 1974.

I was in junior high one week (in sunny California)..
               and in high school the next week (in the  freezing snow).

I didn't do closure with my Calif. friends well (Sorry, Denise et al).

I went from a small school where I knew lots of people.
               to a huge school where I knew nobody.....

and didn't want to, after one kid tripped me in the hall  just to initiate me.

Not the Welcome Wagon.

Many of you from military or other families know what it;s like to be the new kid in class.

In homeroom (here I am, last on right, second row..Note: no guys smile, it's like a U2 album cover)

l was seated next to two close friends who didn't even acknowledge me as they talked the period away every day.

That was worse than being tripped.

But the kid to the left of me (and four from left in the yearbook photo) was gracious, pastoral, engaging .  He never knew all I was going through.

 That's not something you talk about in a ninth grade New York homeroom in 1974.

We were from different circles and worlds..or were we?

I began to have hope.

Thank you St. Kevin Weinzimmer.

As you'll see by my yearbook page, I was so upset that they left his name out of the picture that I added it myself for posterity.

Second story:

I loved Spanish..and my Spanish teacher from California.
She even wrote to me in New York!

I knew even though I was transferring to another Spanish class in New York, there was no way I would/could love my teacher as much.

I was wrong.
I wonder if I'd even be alive..or be a teacher without her.
And when I teach in Spanish, I think I pick up her accent..and anointing (I hope) in her honor.
Thank you, Senora Roberta (Bobbi Gowan).

To this day, as I teach, I draw from her well, her style, passion and humor.

I never signed up to be a pastor, either.
And as an introvert experiencing moving shock...and not even a  Christian yet..
 it was the farthest thing from mind in 1974 .

By the way, by God's grace, Sra Gowan became my homeroom teacher the next year!

In the second picture below (I copied  the whole page so I can tag some other folks who eventually became friends.  Thanks so much to neighbors like the Wanugas sand Zwariches,  and friends like Marge Stanton and Rev. Nancy helped a lot, too) , you'll see first on left, top row...and me six down from her, but still not smiling.
(Click or new tab to enlarge)

There are a series of events along my timeline and testations that I am still living off of.

Let me say that a couple years ago when  I saw a Facebook group called I was in the Spanish Musical at Liverpool High School , I might have sworn in Spanish for sheer joy.

The Spanish Musical was a

game changer for me. It was my way out of liminal hell.

I got to play "Neil Brazofuerte," the first man on the moon.

As my kids know all too well, I can still sing my solo from the play
(I have not sung a solo anywhere since...except when alone):

Penned  brilliantly by Sra Gowan:

Conquistador yo soy senor
Para batallarle estoy senor
A conquistarle   yo voy senor

Yo soy conquistador, senor...Hey!

Not only that, but the whole time I was dancing the tango with a fellow student (Greg Streeter),
having been taught well in rehearsals by the first girl I ever danced with (Peggi Noble).  And huge huge encouragement from my classmate Anna Shute, who snapped this pic of me (my first smile in NY).

The idea of the play was to present US like the moon landing..through the eyes and daydreams of a  Spanish native and his culture.  It ended up with hilarious moments like Montezuma on the moon (played by the Spanish V teacher, Sr, Jose "Do you like my jacket?  I got it in Spain!") Farone.

But the play could've been about anything.
I never would have been in a play...let alone sing and dance in one, without Sra Gowan asking me to, and believing in me.

It got me out of my introverted shell and hell.

Every time I speak in public (especially en espanol), I thank God and Roberta Gowan.

Some would say I am still a  ham; a drama king as i preach and teach.
So be it.

Until i read the facebook group, I had no idea that the Spanish musicals I was in was the first of what would be an annual and cherished tradition for eighteen years!:

The Liverpool High School Spanish Musical (zarzuela) was an LHS tradition from 1976 until 1993 (History of shows listed below) . Bobbi Gowan began the zarzuela as a way for her Spanish IV students to implement their skills in a new and creative way. The students chose the subject of the play (anything from Peter Pan to Annie to Star Trek), devised the plot, wrote the dialogue and produced the consistently popular show over two terms. Senora Gowan (that's her in the picture in front of what may be the ugliest curtain devised by man) would write the lyrics for the songs and "borrow" the music from her extensive knowledge of classic rock songs.

The run of shows ended in 1993 with Excalibur.

This group is for any one (cast, BOB, band... I dunno... makeup?) involved with this Liverpool High School tradition.

The following is a detailed run of the show history:

1976 Cantemos a la Gloria
1977 Bienvenidos Amigos
1978 El Mago de Oz
1979 Pedro Pan
1980 Blanca Nieves y los 7 Enanos
1981 Cenicienta
1982 Pinoquio
1983 Huerfanita
1984 BarriOeste
1985 El Sonido de Musica
1986 Mago
1987 La Bella Durmiente
1988 Maria Popina
1989 Horroritos
1990 Robin Hood
1991 Batman
1992 Viaje Estrellar
1993 Excalibur      Link, many photos and videos on that page
By 1993 when the final curtain drew to a close,
I was back in California, teaching and preaching...
....and the song in my voice and spring in my step is largely due to Bobbi Gowan.

Heck, she even laughed at my subersive Edgar Allenen Poe-ish Valentine poem, and read it in class.
(It's here, in all its gory glory)

That alone kickstarted my healing

Any time I cast a play for my students,
         preach in Peru,
                            or remember how far I've come from that move I knew I'd recover from..

I owe much to Kevin and Bobbi.
Bless you.

I wouldn't have made it without God.


I might not be a pastor without God using Kevin.
                                      I might not be a teacher without God using Sra Gowan.

I see from their Facebook profiles that neither one has aged in forty years.
Ahhh, they are timeless (:

 tribute to another influencer: my high school math teacher, Bruce Johnson:

Charlie Peacock, 10th grade math, the role of teachers: wrestling with the margins


  1. David... just saw this... you are too kind. Glad we reconnected and that we are both in the business of taking care of others. Kevin Weinzimmer

    1. Awesome, Kevin. glad to be on the team


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!