In high school, I was best friends with Rich Eggers, an all-Northern California middle linebacker who'd moved to my school from the Tri-Cities. We did everything together my junior and senior years. In fact, I moved in with his family when my parents moved from town. I wanted to finish high school in Gridley, Calif., where I'd live from the second grade onward. Rich and I got in trouble. But we never got caught. He was the brawn. I was the brains. He was a better athlete. I was a better student leader. He was my campaign manager during my senior year when I successfully ran for student body president, intimidating the freshmen and sophomores into voting for "Oly." My campaign posters featured those little 6-ounce Olympia beer cans, of days gone by. We played high school baseball together. I taught his old man and him to play a Portuguese card game, called Pedro. We even dated the same girls. I saw him last on the day of my wedding in 1975. He married classmate Karen Moreland while in high school, raised two girls, and had 10 grandkids. I knew that he'd moved back to the Tri-Cities. But I never got in touch. We move on. On Monday, I learned via e-mail from Karen that Rich died of a heart attack more than six years ago. Until then, he'd remained forever young, a stocky redhead who once visited my P.E. class, penned our best wrestler in 15 seconds, and then yelled: "Vote for Oly." I'm still digesting the news. Mebbe it's best not to find out what happened to those who shared your Glory Days.
D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.