Dear Family and Friends:
The house across the street has been empty since last February. Juca and I refer to it as “Dick’s House.” Prior to February, Dick Berry PhD, lived in that house for sixty years. We celebrated Doctor Berry’s 99th birthday last December. He passed away in February.
I liked Dick…a lot. We spoke often. It is impossible to have a conversation with someone who is in their 90’s and not learn something about American history. Dick’s stories spanned the 1920’s to the present. He came to Bloomington to teach in IU’s psychology department with B.F.Skinner. Some of you psych majors may remember that famous psychology researcher’s name. Dick moved into the house when it was the only one on South Hawthorne Dr. He watched all of our neighbor’s houses being built, and he had stories about many of them, including ours. We talked about everything from farming to World War II (he was employed by the defense department during the war to give psychological tests to US Navy submarine applicants). And like yours truly, Dick loved football.
Our front porch looks directly out on Dick’s front porch. My wife Juca could tell by the position of Dick’s curtains, the lights in the house, the garage door if all was OK with our neighbor. We had keys to his house so that if there was a problem we could get in and help. This happened a few times. Finally, Dick moved to an assisted care facility here in Bloomington. That’s when our relationship really blossomed. I use to go to visit Dick every Sunday. We would schmooze…he knew the stock market backwards and forwards, loved to kid me about the Cubs, was always up to date with what was happening with the Indianapolis Colts, and on and on. Sunday afternoons we would watch whatever NFL game was on and just…talk football. Dick played the game in high school as did I. We both shared the same number at least for one season. That was number 40. His season was in the 1930’s and mine in the ‘60s. He liked to pull out the last remaining picture of his football team.
Every time I visited Dick I asked some question about his life or about a particular time in America. We talked about the McCarthy trials, campus rebellion in the 1960's, and the Great Depression; anything I could think of. It was always interesting to hear firsthand about things that I had only read about. Dick was a living American history.
Dick also asked me a lot of questions. He was interested in my camp work, what Judaism had to say about various things, and much, much more.
Next month it seems a young couple will be moving into the house across the street. That’s a good thing because time marches on. GUCI’s old caretaker, our friend Earl Beeler once commented to me as we walked through the woods at camp and saw a tree that had fallen over, that, “Us old trees have move over to make room for the young ones coming up.” That’s a true but hard lesson to take to heart.
Dick has moved on to make room for the young ones coming up. According to Earl, that's the way it has to be, and we all know he was right. Nevertheless, I miss Dick (and Earl)... a lot.