From the title, one may expect this novel to bring readers around the globe, perhaps to a story about sipping an unrivalled espresso in a small café in Rome, or perhaps to a story about sitting in a South American coffee shop with a bold cup of Arabica bean joe.
These famous examples, on the other hand, could not be further from my best experience with the hot beverage in my life. In reality, the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had has little to do with its robust, flavorful bean’s superb taste. Rather, it had everything to do with the company I was recently surrounded by on a lovely summer morning.
Rather than crossing the “big pond” to taste the delicious, steeped beer, I was crossing Highway 12 and headed up Middle Waitsburg Road, which was lined with rolling wheat fields and occasional lush green vineyard plots.
I sat there, sipping my coffee, surrounded by a group of old Wa-Hi graduates from the 1950s, all of whom I’d met and enjoyed spending time with since arriving to Walla Walla. While I’m sure the view from the kitchen table would rival any Tuscan coffeehouse scene, I can almost guarantee the people, conversation, and stories would be unrivalled anywhere in the world.
I had the pleasure of spending time with Dean Derby and his wife Shari (both Wa-Hi class of 1953), John Knowles (also class of 1953), and Dean Lodmell on this beautiful morning (class of 52). I sat and sipped for nearly an hour, soaking up the stories, memories, and incomparable Big Blue nostalgia – only pausing to allow Shari to gently refill our cups. Stories about football, family, and friendships abound. Former classmates reminisce about their high school achievements and life experiences. Coaches and teachers who made a difference in people’s lives by helping to shape and direct their formative years.
During our morning coffee break, I undoubtedly gained far more from the experience than they undoubtedly gained from me. Surprisingly, despite my desire for more lore and legend from the past, all four continued to astound me with their keen interest in the current situation of our schools, eager to hear about construction progress, student triumphs, and how teams were forming up for the new school year.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity reinforced our outstanding educational system and the generations of extraordinary young men and women it has produced and continues to generate over its 164-year history. We are really fortunate to have such a wonderful community, faculty, and students. I’m reminded that the district’s illustrious heritage carries on, whether you graduated in 1952 or 2022 – once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil!