One of the first friends I made at Penn State was Mike Carr, a fellow freshman who hailed from the Pittsburgh area.
Mike and I shared an interest in theater; in fact, he had played El Gallo in his high school production of The Fantasticks, a production in which the word “rape” had been changed to “date”. He had a girlfriend who was a year younger than he was back home, but that relationship didn’t survive the separation.
We also shared an interest in the latest rock music, which I was just exploring for the first time, when I bought a copy of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I recall that Mike’s sister then gave him a copy as a present, but it was the monophonic version because she didn’t believe in stereo. Yes, stereophonic sound had only been around for about ten years or so in 1967, and most albums were released in both mono and stereo mixes because many phonographs could still not play stereo recordings. Actually many Beatles fans consider that mono mix to be superior to the stereo. But I digress.
Mike was a Catholic. And no, the irony is not lost on me that a large number of my friends have been Catholics or former Catholics. But in discussing his beliefs with him, I discovered that when compared to Catholic orthodoxy, he would be considered a heretic. Actually, every Catholic with whom I’ve discussed their beliefs would be considered a heretic. But I digress again.
Mike lived in the room next to mine in Pinchot Hall, so we often went to the theater or movies together. The following year I moved to Mifflin Hall, but we still kept in touch and still met for the occasional movie. I’d stop in every now and then. It was on one of those visits that Doug, the RA on his floor, snapped what remains one of my favorite photos of me.
And like me, Mike was a regular attendee at Tim Toward and Ed Stutz’s parties.
We didn’t always agree. As I recall capital punishment was one of our areas of disagreement, but we always got along.
Until we didn’t.
We had a bit of a falling out in the middle of our third year, but it was patched up the following year.
Alas, we never kept in touch.
And as I discovered when I started trying to locate him in later years, Mike Carr is a pretty popular name. Even when restricting the search to just the Pittsburgh area. When Facebook arrived I kept searching there, but he didn’t seem to have an account. Eventually I stopped looking.
Then a couple months ago I thought I’d try again, and bingo! There he was. I was certain that it was him as all the details seemed to match up.
Year of birth 1949. Check. Graduated Penn State. Check. Sister named Carol. Yeah, that sounded right.
I was pretty sure this was him!
My joy was only tempered by the fact that what I had found was Mike Carr’s obituary. He died in 2014.