My Man Dan From Detroit Country Day School
WHEN DAN HOLLOWAY dropped dead of a heart attack on Xmas Eve at just 60 years of age, the first from my high school graduating class to die — Doctor Daniel Keith Holloway — it just started a whole thing unravelling for me. I hesitate to call it THE WEB OF MY LIFE, because that sounds like too much something I know, but beginning with Byron’s description of funeral on the phone—Dan was a big game hunter?—the things I didn’t know by losing touch, by not contacting him. Alls I had were DCDS (Detroit Country Day School) stories of him as a great guy, tall, a good friend from our days riding together on the school bus w Byron Washington, too, driven by Joyce the bus driver — Dan and Byron the two black students in our graduating class of less than 40. I think we had all of 37.
No, not class of 1937; try “ha ha/hee hee/we’re the class of ’73!” our motto). We played basketball and football together, Dan at defensive end & tight end — his spring sport track with Mr. Browne? Baseball? Lacrosse? Golf? Here he is cracking me up at a reunion in 2006 I think it was, with Bryan Schefman and Bill Dewey seated across from him at Duggan’s on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak:
Thinking of a cassette tape I held onto for years, taped in Spanish class, our teacher Mr. Chavannes handing back tests. Dan is asking forever: “Sir, how can you say this is incomplete?” And Nestor Chavannes in his Haitian accent, replies: “Because it is INcomplete.”
The laughs that exchange got for years afterwards. Just that. I’m recalling the incident, but not really, moreso the tape of it; the gray-white cassette in a shoebox-size Radio Shack portable that I used for taping dialogue off TV shows like “Cosby” and took to school to record play-by-play-and-color with Jimmy Kottler when we did a JV basketball game, circa 1970 from the side of the court.
But now all I have are the stories from DCDS of Dan. The web of my life tied up in those stories. Thinking also now about the girls at our school, there were two of them in our class, we being the first ever with girls (History! From 1914 to 1973 an all-boys “College Preparatory School” said the sign at the corner of Lahser and Thirteen Mile Road). Thus, there were no older women for us to lust after except the headmaster’s secretaries, one tall/one short/one blond/one brunette. Our girls were Diane, who became a pal and was Tom Aliber’s gfriend, and Ann, daughter of Mr. Kinney who taught English. I remember thinking one was for friendship, one to fall for; who was Ann’s boyfriend? She was so cute, but I went for girls in the classes below us, especially Darrell Rogers’ girlfriend—what was her name, Sharon something.
This bring me to the web of my life: I want an Internet, a Google of things just from my experience, and it’s all there so when I type in DARRELL ROGERS’ GFRIEND, she comes up. I would find her number, make contact. This is coming from what Byron said about realizing as he sat broken up at the funeral that if I want to talk to someone, I should call them before it’s too late. Which I didn’t with Dan. At Holloway’s funeral his fraternity brothers represented, singing a hymn that was very moving. And the story of his big game hunting, of course, which I never knew about and would have been interested in hearing about. Dan called me in August as I was driving to Seattle so we only had time for a short talk.
That was four months ago. I like seeing him making me laugh in 2006 on Woodward Avenue.
Sharon something with an S?
So Dan Holloway dead at 60 and I can’t find a thing about it in the Detroit papers. His 20-something son spoke, Byron said, as did six or seven others including the former mayor of Southfield (Dan’s sister is the mayor of Pontiac), and the only thing negative was that Dan was always late. Which I completely forgot. Also, he never said a bad word about anyone. Which I do recall about him and really loved and admired. (As a kid that seems really anti-petty, doesn’t it? But as an adult, I dunno, could be a wee dull?)
Sharon S, a short girl with short redhair who came out on a golf course with me once behind my parents’ house in Detroit and went running between the trees in the rough alongside a fairway. Sumner! Sharon Sumner. And like summer she was, right?