connect the dots


This was Erik Platz in 1962. Erik lived with his grandparents kitty-corner from my family’s house on Forest Avenue in Wheaton, IL. I remember that picket fence and the sheep that once pastured on that land before it was developed for homes. I remember feeding Erik’s grandparents’ cat and watering their plants when they went on vacation and I remember soaping their car windows one Halloween in my adventurous adolescence.

I do not remember Erik.

1962-Sherry Nill ladder pose

This was me in 1962, which likely explains why I don’t remember Erik. As a junior in high school my focus was directed more on myself than on a cute little boy who lived across the street. Too bad, right?

Several years ago I joined the “You know you’re from Wheaton if . . .” Facebook page, and Erik replied to one of my comments about remembering the skate key I wore around my neck on a long shoelace as I skated up and down the neighborhood sidewalks. His reply was a YouTube link to an old but new-to-me song titled “Brand New Key.” And to that I asked, “Are you by any chance related to the Wheaton College band director Russell Platz?” Yes, his grandson! He went on to explain that after his parents divorced, Erik and his brother were raised by their grandparents.

All this happened under my radar.

Platz family

Erik and his family live in Florida, but getting to know this now-grown man through Facebook has been a favorite redeeming feature of Facebook. Along with our history we are connected through our strong Christian faith. He never shies from sharing it with his Facebook community. (This is their 2016 church directory photo.)

Now hold that thought while I pull another element into this story.

2018-03-25 09.48.45

A few days ago I wrote about Bill Jolliff and his daughter Anna coming to lead us in worship at NFC last Sunday. And I told about finding a sample YouTube video to send Craig and how I couldn’t stop replaying it.

That’s Bill’s son, Jake, in the foreground playing mandolin.

I’ve been waking up every morning with Anna’s voice ringing in my head. Could be I replayed it a few too many times. And of course I had to send it to Erik. After all, he’s the one who introduced me to “Brand New Key”! And he’s a musician who would surely appreciate some Oregon bluegrass. So off went a story and a link to him on Facebook.

Here’s his reply:

That’s great! Jake is one of the finest mandolin players in the country. He plays with Yonder Mountain String Band now, which is one of my favorite festival bands. Deanna and I saw them in Miami a couple years ago.

You likely have your share of small-world stories. You should start a blog so you can tell them. When you do, send me the address! I’ll subscribe!

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