For my fourth and abortive final year at Penn State I moved off campus to the Southgate townhouse apartments with Carl, Terry, and Perry.
Our next door neighbors were three fellows from Philadelphia: Gary, Dickie, and Howie. Good fellows all of them, but it was Howard Fatell that I became especially friendly with. Well, Howie and his delightful girlfriend Bonnie Glantz.
In addition to being a full time student, Howie had a DJ gig at the local progressive rock FM station WQWK, QWK radio. As I recall he was on during the early evening, maybe 5 PM to 9 PM? Something like that. I would sometimes visit him while he was doing his show. Sometimes I’d call in and he’d put me on the air.
Later on after I was no longer a student, Bonnie and Howie often included me in their evening activities. I even recall playing foosball one time.
Then when the lease expired, I moved with David and Walter to the other side of State College in an apartment on University Drive across the street from the Burger King.
I think Howie had quit his DJ gig to concentrate on his studies. I ran into him once or twice during this period in the campus library, which I still frequented.
September came again, as it always does, and as the lease ended, I sublet Ron Funk’s tiny efficiency apartment. He had once described it as “the smallest apartment in State College”. He wasn’t exaggerating.
Located at 337 S. Burrowes St., it was in an old house that had been converted into several apartments. Mine, I believe, was the smallest, but it met my needs at the moment.
There was a problem with the building’s boiler; it would frequently conk out and have to be turned back on. This duty fell to the resident of the basement apartment, a somewhat prickly young woman. I say she was somewhat prickly because she would often leave sarcastic notes complaining about the sound of footsteps on the stairs. I could sympathize with her aversion to the noise, but I didn’t think she was handling it very well.
Anyway, she moved out and new people moved in, and one day I heard a familiar voice. It turned out that Bonnie Glantz and Howie Fatell had moved into the basement apartment.
So for the balance of my stay in State College I had a couple of good friends as neighbors. We saw each other often, and one time Bonnie did a huge favor for me, which I think I’m going to need a separate blog post to describe. Remind me sometime.
But all good things come to an end, and in spring of the following year I moved back to Richland. That would be 1973 for those keeping score.
Fast forward to 2005 or thereabouts. Ever since I had moved to Philadelphia, I had thought about getting back in touch with Bonnie and Howie, but for some reason I never did. I assumed that they had gotten married because they seemed perfect for each other. Of that I had no doubt. Anyway finally I decided to try to look them up. As I said, I think this was around 2005.
My first stop was the phone book. Remember those? And I hit pay dirt. There was a Bonnie Glantz listed in the Center City offices of Blank Rome. I reflected that it would be quite normal for a young lawyer trying to make a career for herself to use her maiden name and to retain that name to avoid confusion. But was this the Bonnie that I used to know, and did I feel comfortable calling her at her office?
Well, only one way to find out, as I dialed the number. A woman answered and I said, “Could I please speak to Bonnie Glantz?”
“Certainly,” came the reply. There was a brief delay and then another woman’s voice came on the line and I knew instantly that it was “my” Bonnie.
Because she said, “This is Bonnie Fatell speaking.”
“Hi, Bonnie. This is Jim Troutman. Do you remember me from your days in State College with Howie?”
She did not.
At least not by name. So I started to describe the Southgate townhouses and Howie’s roommates there, and then how she and Howie had ended up at Burrowes Street where I had moved, and gradually recognition crept into her voice, then warmth and enthusiasm. We chatted briefly; she said that Howie would be excited to hear from me.
But, she went on, they were smack in the middle of getting one of their children ready for college, and that was going to keep them busy for at least the next week or two. She took my number and promised to get back to me as soon as things settled down.
Well, I never heard from her or Howie. Now it might very well have been my fault, as I gave her my landline number, not my cell phone, don’t ask me why. And a few weeks after this I disconnected the answering machine from the landline because of all the spam messages I was getting, forgetting that that was the number I had given to Bonnie.
The years passed and I considered whether to try again to reach out to them, but for whatever reason I never did. Then yesterday, spurred by this series of blog posts that I’ve been writing about attempting to reconnect to old friends, I thought now was the time.
So I plugged “Bonnie Glantz Fatell” into the search engine. And I saw that she was a partner at Blank Rome until she retired in 2016, and she was honored as one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction in 2014.
I learned many things about her, including that when she was still active “She would disarm her opponents by her sweetness and kindness, but she would defeat them in the courtroom”.
And I learned that Bonnie Glantz Fatell died of cancer in August of last year.