Social media is like many things in life, we find what we look for

“Midnight is the time when we think, ‘Well, we should probably send our last email; let me just check Facebook one more time.'” 

— Matthew Walker, English scientist, and professor of neuroscience and psychology sleep subjects at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Social media has come under fire lately. In my opinion, rightfully so, but that’s another topic for another time. Today’s topic is more along the lines of the old saying that cautions against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Like most things in life, we find what we look for. With social media, I look for good things like last week’s surprise message.

“Hi Leon, reaching out to ask if you are the same Leon my husband and I met in Abilene, Texas, in the late 70’s,” that message read.

My stay in Abilene 40 years ago where I resided on Piedmont Street was only two years but seems now like decades. So many things happened in a short time. Those same four decades won’t allow me to recall exactly how we met the couple from Ohio. I do remember I was new in town and turned down a night city editor’s job at The Abilene Reporter-News looking for something different. Youth affects your mind like that.

After landing an office manager’s job, part of that job was making daily deposits at the bank where Donna was a teller. Her husband, Chuck, was in the Air Force stationed at Dyess. We spent time together at each other’s house and other inexpensive activities that young couples on limited budgets did then; probably still do.

We had moved back to Mount Pleasant when Chuck and Donna called to schedule an overnight visit on their way through East Texas going to, again I don’t remember. An overnight snowfall made the stay memorable, and our Abilene friends were soon on their way. As too often happens with friends separated by time and miles, communication trailed off. I thought of them often, wondering where they had gone.

“The Leon I know was married and had a son Ashley who passed. Are you that person?” last week’s message ended.

The words kicked my mind into warp speed, trying to bridge 40 years in ten seconds. “I am that Leon,” I responded.” Wow, that has been a few years ago. My wife’s name was Evon, but we are no longer married. We lived in Abilene from 1976 to 1978. Ashley died November 22, 1977, a week before his first birthday. I live in Center, Texas, where I’ve lived most of the time since I first moved here in 1979.”

“I remember Evon,” was Donna’s message the next night, “… and sad to hear you are not together. I hope life has been good to you. I have such nice memories of you bringing Ashley through my teller window at First National. Life has been good. Chuck retired from the military in ’98 and has been working in aerospace 21 years. Then switched jobs this past year doing the same job. We live in Virginia. Would love to schedule a chat and catch up one day. Best, Donna.”

Another photo taken last weekend to send Chuck and Donna, the Paramount theater in Abilene still looks as it did 40 years ago and probably 40 years before we were there.

“I smiled when I saw your message,” I wrote back. “I’ve thought about you and Chuck often wondering where life had taken you. I remember those days of making deposits at your drive through window. I remember when you and Chuck came to our house in Mount Pleasant. It snowed, a rare treat in East Texas, and Chuck and I went for a hike in through the city park. I would love to talk and catch up,” I wrote back. “Ironically, I am driving to Abilene tomorrow and will be there through Sunday attending a family reunion. Any place there you would like a picture of?”

“Enjoy your trip to Abilene,” Donna responded. “It’s been so long since I have seen anything of the Abilene, not sure I want to see a picture. It’s nice remembering places the way they were. But, if you see something you think I would enjoy, then send a pic along. Safe travels and enjoy your family reunion.”

I look forward to getting reacquainted with Chuck and Donna soon via Zoom, as discussed in our last message.

Zoom – another marvel of the digital age putting people together.

Social media is not so different from real life. It’s best enjoyed scrolling past the drama, hatred, and negative politics that at times dominate both. I just know that abandoning social media would have cost me the opportunity to reunite with friends of more than 40 years ago.

And that’s worth checking Facebook one more time around midnight any day of the week.

—Leon Aldridge

(Photo at top of the page — Piedmont Street in Abilene where we lived in the late 70s, one of the photos I took last weekend to send our friends of more that 40 years ago. It was difficult to find places that had not changed since then.)

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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