z-Good ol’ Daze at Lucy’s -vad- -pej- mcb

Catherine Remmel

The young man helped me with keeping the buffet supplied. He kept the soup pots filled, the dishes stocked, and the beverages fresh. At times, everything needed to be done simultaneously.
In expressing my gratitude for his assistance, I asked, “What would I do without you?” “‘What would Lucy’s do without you?’ is the question,” he answered back. I responded, “Teamwork is the key to this place. Everyone does their part, and it all clicks.”
When things quieted down a bit, we each took a towel to opposite sides of the buffet. As we worked cooperatively, I asked him, “What exactly are you studying here at Lawrence?”
He answered with a kind of puzzled look on his face, as if unsure of the choices he had made. “Well, I am majoring in chemistry with a minor in vocal performance. I know it seems like an odd combination but these are where my interests have drawn me.”
This is not so strange. I have worked with three students that have chosen the same fields of interest. I told him the same things I had told the other two: “Maybe someday you will come up with a throat spray that cures hoarseness on contact. I think it would be a big seller.”
I remember the fifth grade, at the brink of my vocal performance endeavors. A few people in our class were selected to enter a speech contest. One gal had entered the previous two years and had placed both times. She was all for the three of us entering and taking home all of the trophies.
We coached each other and practiced, practiced, practiced. I had practiced so much that when the day arrived for us to give our “conservation speeches” (you know, about the environment . it was the late ’60s) I realized what I should have been conserving: my vocal chords.
Our veteran suggested, “Try lemon juice.” My mother suggested, “Gargle with warm, salted water.” My dad just said, “You sound terrible! Maybe you should just go along to cheer on your classmates . use sign language.”
Now that I think about it, this was when sign language was starting as all the rage with Helen Keller in the spotlight. I probably would have taken first place had I actually known sign language.
No matter what I tried, the hoarseness continued to get worse. I gave my speech regardless. Our veteran took first place. The other classmate came in third. I had good comments on my sheet for effort and content.
No, I did not win a prize or trophy. But I have always contemplated the perfect combination of what would have cured my abused voice that day.
Maybe the chemists I have worked with or their colleagues will come up with something someday — “Special Herbal Tea.” If I had resources, I would invest in this.