A Trio of Teen Tragedies



Sometimes the songs of youthful heart break

Extend to the unthinkable.

Strange how we remember them,

the vynl tragedies of the fourth grade.


Oh where, oh where can my baby be?

My first experience with

The Last Kiss came while

riding in my parents’ car

to pick my sister from ushering

on Girl Scout night at the Players’ community theater.


What other sadness and shock

from the singer’s shattered life

was lost to us as we sang along,

Though my mother thought it a gruesome thing.


The opera star had A Secret,

He was the leader of the pack.

A girl group in chiffon at the end

came on and he came out like the Wild One.


Opera and rock end in

tragedies and so it was here,

Look out! Look out! Look out!

The leader staggered out, his arm in a sling.


Dickie Lee’s date with Laurie

Made me cry, but I didn’t want

to tell anyone such a sad tale

of dancing with a ghost would do that.

Strange things happen in this world.

Little Deli Donna’s


It seems as if some quaint

European cafe had been dropped

into the middle of a little Hoosier town.


The beige plaster walls,

Checkered table cloth

and green painted siding

invite them into a wondrous

little tea room, in an idyllic village,

or a bistro in rural France.


As I sit and eat my All-American meal

my mind takes flight to another world.

My mind goes off to some foreign land,

a squeeze box playing while young lovers

walk along exchanging dreamy glances.


What was the name

of that little café?


A tale of love and a bad influence, and /or the Bride’s brother-in-law


This is the story of Craig in Michigan, who liked Jenny in Illinois.


Do you mean “like-like” or “like-you know”?

What is this? High school?

Well, Jenny was a senior at the time.

On Aug. 10, 1959, some collectors charged with looting $750,000 from bridge tolls were suspended. The Senate faced the issue of rights again, and Ike was going to make Bonn the first stop on his world tour, while in Bay City, Mich., Mr. and Mrs. Don Weiland gave birth to a son named Craig.

Ah yes and when the doc slapped Craig on the you-know-what, his eyes bugged out and they’ve been that way ever since.

Didn’t I hear that somewhere before?

It’s just your imagination.

On Oct. 23, 1963, 49 died in a South Korean flood, a hurricane headed for Florida, the strafing of a U.S. ship by a MIG from Cuba was probed and half of Chicago’s pupils staged a one-day boycott of classes.

Any good news?

The Republican won a special House election North Dakota?

Not that kind!

Jenny Waibel was born in Peoria, IL.

That’s better.

As they grew, Craig and Jenny traveled on different paths. Craig’s dad was in (surprise!) construction and he was the oldest in his family. Craig was also an oddity among the Bay City Weilands.

You mean the Bay City Weilands?

Them too (this time, I corrected the typo).

Why was he an oddity?

He had a first name and a last name.

What’s so odd about that?

He’s got cousins named Blaine, Blair, Reagan.

Well, he’s also got cousins named Brad, Todd, Scott and Brace.

The last one’s part of a middle name. S. Brace R. Weiland.

S.Brace R. Weiland? What do the S. and R. stand for?

After shave.

  1. Brace R.? Skinbracer Weiland! Why you,

How’s that grab you, Bay City? The Weilands can sing, but can they do humor like this?

Fortunately not. Talk about Jenny.

Jenny’s in a big family. If Rhoda and Nook Meister wanted a small family, we’d all be calling Joyce Planned Parenthood’s Public Enemy Number One.

As it stands, she’s number two.

Did I tell you about the Waibel family pictures one and two?


Well, you see, Bill and the boys are in one picture, while Joyce and the girls are in the other.

Tell us about Jenny’s family.

Debbie and Danny are twins, Jody and Jenny are sisters, as is Jackie.

Then there are Mike, Matt and Jessie.

All football players.

Not the girls. Jenny was a cheerleader, though.

The Waibels have an unusual house. One time, I was looking at their family picture in stereo, and had to use the necessary room. Danny told me to walk in the broom closet, which I did. I shut the door, and the next thing I know, I’m standing in the middle of the bath tub. The Waibels have a big house. It’s like a plantation house. It was there before the road was. Throw open the upstairs and get a panoramic view of Sterling Avenue. Why, on a clear day, you can even see the John Bee store (in East Peoria?).

Do you want to walk in the broom closet again?

Sorry, they changed the passageways. Now if you walk in the broom closet and shut the door, you wind up in the TV room if you’re not careful.

As time went by, Jenny and Craig both started thinking about where their lives were going. Jenny’s three older brothers and sisters had repented when they were very young. Danny even gave up football and eventually gave his life to the Lord. Jenny gave her life to Jesus in 1980. Craig had been a member for a long time when that happened. After that, their lives could begin to have meaning.

Jenny, of course, went through school at Central, like her older siblings and her dad.

Was she a waffle whiffer?

A waffle whiffer?

You know. “Here comes that pesky waffle whiffer. Waffle, waffle, waffle.”

In her case, I suppose it would be “Waibel, Waibel, Waibel.”

No. “Waibel, Waibel, waibel?”

(That’s not as funny when you spell it right the first time).


Now, Craig had been down to Peoria many times with the Bay City young group and choir. He also visited his friends, the Hoerrs.

Which Hoerrs?

Why do you always ask me these questions? The John Hoerr family. You know, Julie, Joan, Jeff, Jack.



Oh, that Jack. As I was saying, the Hoerrs were pretty good friends with the Weilands. The Hoerrs are the largest family in Peoria and the Weilands are the largest family in Bay City. a lot of friends, right?

But nobody is as big as the Waibels.

Ever met Nook Meister’s family?

Let’s get back to the business at hand. By the way, you like Jenny, don’t you?

Well, isn’t that a bit of a loaded question? How do you mean “like”?

“Like’ you know, a friend, or a sister in the Lord, things like that.

But not, you know, “liiike” Jenny Waibel.

Please, we haven’t even gotten Craig to the elder yet. What do you think this is, high school?

Well, Jenny did just graduate.

So, did Craig finally meet Jenny?

Not yet. In 1978, there were a lot of weddings in the Peoria. The young group didn’t dissolve, it merged. Jenny’s three older siblings were among the couples.

Debbie married Carl Hoerr.

You mean Carlie?

That’s right. Carlie Hoerr, son of Carl Hoerr Sr.

I know that guy.

Danny married Karen.

His dad has a lot of money, so does her dad.

Well, you know what they say. “Those who have Getz.”

Jody married Jack.

Jack who?

I think it was Jack Meister.

There is no Jack Meister.

Well, then that means what I’m about to talk about was just a rumor.


Well, I didn’t know which Jack it was, but at the engagement dinner, Bill was talking to Jack on the phone and was also talking to his wife. Well, after setting the time he’d pick up Jody, Jack asked “How are we going? Tour Pontiac? Or my pickup?”

Bill crushed the receiver and said “It’s Jack! Jack!”

Jack is back.

And Jody has him.

Jack and Jody gave birth to two truck drivers, Wesley and Samuel.

Wes and Sam. Now, don’t they sound like truck drivers?

Yeah, but what’s this got to do with Craig and Jenny?

Well, Craig was spending more time in Peoria and he was a very good friend of Jack’s, so he met Jenny a lot since she was Jack’s sister-in-law.

Oh Jack, are you going off that big board?

Who brought the Rocke sisters in here?

It’s a good thing Jack and Jody got married when they did. Jack, Danny and Bill Schick each got a couch to sleep on then.


Let’s talk about Craig.

Why? Isn’t that dangerous?

Craig has bulging eyes.

He does?

Will you cut with the wide eyes bit?

Craig is also a very good singer.

Who do you get all this about Craig from?

Another old friend of his from Peoria, Dean Samreyser.

That’s Ramseyer!

That’s all right brothers, I’m used to it.

How does he get in on this?

He works for D.A. Hoerr and sons.

So, as time went by, Craig made his usual visits to Peoria. He became pretty well known to the young group. Of course, he was a member for some time before Jenny was converted, but that doesn’t mean that Craig and Jenny didn’t get to know each other.

Did Jenny save Craig a seat on the van?

No, they never went to Princeville with the other young members. Craing, I mean Craig is a better planner.

Just like hsi buddy, Dean Hamrider.

That’s Ramseyer!

Craig’s been on the boat ride.

Does that have anything with meeting Jenny?

With 300 other kids on the boat? How could they meet?

You have a brother, he stands at the front of the boat and he shakes hands with everybody as they come aboard.

Jenny’s a sweet girl, she’s always got a big smile and she seems younger than she is. I mean it’s hard to believe she’s almost out of high school.

Si anyway, Jenny and Craig got to know each other better. They did it by going to singings, on choir trips, young group trips and by Craig visiting Peoria once in a while.

Craig and Jenny became closer as time went by. He eventually took his proposal to the elder at Bay City, who relayed it to Roy. Roy gave the proposal to Jenny. After praying about it, Jenny accepted. The wedding is set for Nov. 8.

When were they announced?

Well, it was on June 7, while the rest of the young group was in Lexington, Ky.

There wasn’t any horsing around, was there?

No, but we did see a lot of hay.

Did I tell you about some of the bad influences on Craig?

Like what?

Jack Hoerr. I mean, he’s taught a lot of crazy things to Craig.

Like what? They’re saying wait until the blackout page.

I’ll tell you then.

We come to the end of another Joos Roast. I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my craziness tonight. Jenny, we’ll miss you, so think about down here in Peoria if you ever feel down. Craig, you’ve got one of the good ones. You don’t have to quit coming down now that you’re married and hey, when you two start having kids, the Lord willing, they’ll all have wide eyes. May God bless your new Christian home and may He be with you when you feel lonely for Peoria, Jenny. So, good night.

Did you hear about Craig and Jenny?

I know nothing about it, I was in Indianapolis trying to win a foot race in a parking lot and keep my pants up.

Craig, Craig, what do you want?


You taught him well, Jack. You taught him well.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is the Joos Roast Poll. Tonight, we are asking the pertinent question “Do you like Jenny Waibel?

Our results are as follows based on question asked of 100 members and friends of the Apostolic Christian Churches of Peoria, IL, and Bay city, MI:

Yes                                                   13%

We love her as a sister                  63%

We love her as family                    16%

No comment                                    3%

Boy, that’s a loaded question       4%

Yeah boy!                                          1%

Here are some answers with quotes-

Margie Webber (that’s Mar-gie Webb-AH): OOH, OOH, JENNY’S A REAL NICE GIRL!

Thanks, Margie.

Sidney, er, ah, Cindy Plattner: Oh, she’s neat!

Valerie Hess: I love her, I love her.

Johnny Brewer: Could you repeat the question?

That’s “Do you like Jenny Waibel? ,” not “Do you LIKE Jenny Waibel?”

Jack Hoerr: She’s my sister-in-law, but you’ve got to watch this guy.

Dean Syrammer: Jenny’s all right, just ask Craig (he thinks she’s super).

Craig Weiland: Yeah Boy!

Karen Waibel: She hardly Getz to me.

We understand that Karen Waibel helped another respondent change his answer from “no comment” to “We love her as family.”

Weekend in Bay City*


Las night, I waived good-bye,


Now it seems years.


I’m back in Peoria,


whhere nothing is clear.


The thoughts of you, led to me


bring us near and tell me


When will our eyes meet?


When can I greet you?


When willthis strong feeling end?


And when will I see you again?


Tine ub Bay City took me away,


to Lake Huron’s beaches


and you in the way.


We started a story which now must begin


(Repeat chorus)



I feel a change coming,


I feel the wind blow,


I feel the Lord’s leading,


I feel richly blessed.


He’s brought us together


with His wonderus grace


From here until Heaven


things won’t be that bad


(Repeat chorus. * Sing to the tune of “Weekend in New England”)

Now we explain why we dedicated this to whom we dedicated it to.


First, we’d like to thank some people for their aid.

We’d like to thank Johnny Brewer providing the poll question.

You like spreading the blame around, don’t you?

And we’d like to thank Dean Samriser for helping us research Craig’s birthday.

Dean Samriser?

Dean Hamrider?


Okay, okay, it’s Ramcharger.


What do you mean, this isn’t funny? Look at Jenny’s brothers. They think it’s hilarious. Look at Jack and Jody, they think it’s a riot. Ryesammer thinks it’s funny.

His name is Ramseyer.

Nice house your folks have, Jenny. I think I’ll go upstairs. Don’t use that stairway. Go up through the fireplace.

Dean Ramseyer.

You got the dedication right.


Why is Jack a bad influence on Craig?

Well, since they’ve been running around together, Craig has been saying things like “yeah boy!” and says that if he’s blessed with sons, they’re both going to be truck drivers.

Craig has also been telling nervous brothers in Bay City to relax.

You know, “relaxxxxxxx!”

Yeah boy.

Craig used to greet one brother from the highway at church.


A-HA-HA! I got you first!

What do you want Craig?


Did you see those eyes light up?

He does that all the time.


Hey, whoa, hold it, hold it.

Well Jenny, I’ve made your brothers laugh again.

Yeah and no Howard Cosell.

Howard Cosell?


That’s all right. We don’t need a sample.

Look at the bright side, Bill. One more and you get your coach back.

You were saying, sir.

Look, just because the Waibel’s house looks like a Southern mansion, that’s now a reason to talk like a Southern colonel.

Col. Sanders?

That’s where I was when I heard about the announcement.

Kentucky Fried Chicken?

You’re getting ahead of yourself.



Their memories followed me on vacation (with Juice notes)

For those who favor coloring books,

listen very well,

on that day Brenda Lee sang.

Her most unusual coloring book.

I know that song, I know it well.

Begin to color me.


I know that song,

it’s one of the songs

which open the gates

of bittersweet memory.

Those songs which break my heart

and bring them back.

Near a building storing the Rolls

Princess Di toured Chitown in,

My princesses paid a visit.


Some old rock and rollers

reminisced about their heydays

and their crush on little Miss Brenda

before she sang her song via satellite.



I sought a car from that year,

a muscle car, of course,

but not a Dodge, how sad.


But they seemed to be all around.

A fleet of vintage T-Birds,

a mystery blonde’s cute sister in each.

A short-brown-haired girl with a fetching smile,


her best freiend with a tempting grin,

waiting in the back of of a slinky Olds ragtop.

Which one? Who knows.


All the places they followed me to,

while riding around in my heart,

and now their memories

finally followed me on vacation.




Juice notes: The memories of three girls I attended grade and junior-high school with inspired this poem, which became inadvertently about one. The circumstances surrounded a trip to the Volo Antique Auto Museum in Volo, IL, one day in August, 2007. While going through the muscle car section of the museum, I caught a satellite radio oldies show, where the host was talking with a musician from the early Rock and Roll era. They were talking about Brenda Lee and played her rendition of the song, “My Coloring Book”, one of those sad love songs guaranteed to bring back bittersweet memories of my first crushes.

How did this poem revolve around her by accident?

Among the cars for sale and on exhibit was a 1963 Ford Thunderbird roadster (two-seat convertible), about three early 50’s T-Birds, a 66 model and a pedal car with a frame resembling a 58-60 Bird. This particular girl’s dad was an FBI agent (I want to be clear, SHE CHASED ME) and a long-haired blonde. Here are why these items are important.

The 1960 TV series The FBI (which I never missed) starred Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who previously starred as Stu Bailey on another long-running detective show, 77 Sunset Strip, where he mostly drove a (that’s right!) Ford Thunderbird, much like kiddie-car frame and the 63 roadster. The fleet of 55-57 models were similar to the one Suzanne Sommers drove as the mystery blonde who Richard Dreyfus’ character spent most of the movie “American Graffiti” trying to meet up with. Both girls were blondes. There is a natural explanation, isn’t there?

I just hope that this gives you a better understanding of this poem without taking from some of its impact. My only regret is that I was unable to go into my usual case of longing for my lost loves after this, mainly due to the fact that I had learned the previous evening that my father, Charles Joos, was seriously ill (he died two months later).

The men of courage


The men of courage

who have gone before,

Have left a path for us to tread.

And though they never have won much fame,

they leave great lessons in their stead.


Though it be not for one man’s gain,

Or politically wise,

Still courage when it comes

Will lead the way to gains which

Stand the test of time.


Sometimes a President, sometimes a King,

A Senator or common man,

Must face the darkest evil men then know,

And face the evil all alone.


Tis then a virtue must arise

and courage is its name,

to send a message the right must come

and things must never be the same.


Read on my daughter,

Be inspired my son,

These tales of bravery gone by.

O learn their lessons for the time may come

When you may have to stand and fight.

But should that hour e’er arrive

And courage you must find,

Inside your soul will be the place to look,

for there this virtue must abide

(look inside, for there this virtue must abide).



The Chevy classics


They used to sell hot dogs,

apple pie and baseball cards

in this fine old building.


Maybe the store even

Sponsored a little league team.

Now it’s the hallowed shrine

To the All-American car.


There’s the flashy versions

Of your grandma’s cars,

Or did grandma drive

The rowdy cousin’s?


A massive panel truck

Ready to rumble on its runs,

Impalas, Bel-Airs and Biscaynes,

All the great old models.

Sting Rays? Vettes?

Oh yes!

There’s Vettes and Vettes!

So many Vettes!

All these Vettes have 66

Backed up clear to 36.


Dinah, won’t you, well

she won’t honk her horn,

She’ll throw us a kiss after singing

about seeing the USA in your Chevrolet


Or we can just hop in the

’57 convertible and head over

to Steak n Shake for a bite to eat.

In sight, it must be right.