As some of you may recall, while I was in school, I was friends with Russell Mertz. Just friends, we enjoyed talking for hours on the phone about music and books. Russell graduated and went to Murray State University and then into the U.S. Navy. While he was in the service, he was married briefly to a girl from Mounds (I think) and divorced.
Just before Russell graduated from CHS, he had given me a book that had been a favorite of his. I read it and we talked about it several times. Then, he graduated and was gone from my life. Time passed. Even though we hadn't spoken in years and I had no idea where he was, each time I dusted that book on the shelf, I thought about him and wondered how he was doing.
By 1974, I was a divorced single parent and working as a legal secretary (blessings upon Phyllis Thomas Halliday for equipping me with a skill that would feed me and my family for so many years).
When Russell got out of the Navy that year, he came back to Cairo where his parents were still living. While talking with old buddy, Larry Davis (classmate of '67), just about the time Russell asked, "Whatever happened to Ellen Rose?" I drove past.
Russell jumped into his car and chased me down. I had no idea he was back in Cairo until he walked up to my car window. We talked and it was just like the intervening years had never happened. One thing led to another and, within a year, we moved from Cairo to Carbondale when Jennifer completed first grade. We got married August 16, 1975.
In 1976, I began workin' on the railroad as a stenographer/clerk. The Illinois Central division office building was in Carbondale until it was consolidated and moved to Champaign, Illinois, in 1982.
In 1986, we moved from Champaign (actually Mahomet) to Paducah when the ICG spun off their railroad line in Kentucky and some west Kentucky businessmen bought it and started the Paducah & Louisville Railway, Inc. I am the office manager and assistant to the President of the P&L; Railway. I am now in my 25th year as a railroader and looking forward to retirement in about nine more years. I enjoy my work, but wish I had more time to devote to outside pursuits. Any free time I have is absorbed by church and family and now my new business. When a few stray seconds allow it, I still love to read.
In 1994, our daughter, Jennifer, married Mike McCann, a local boy. On Feb. 10, 1998, their son, Vincent was born. We are fortunate that Jennifer, Mike and Vincent (otherwise known as "V") live only about 10-15 minutes away from our house. We see them often and are grateful that we can be so much a part of V's life.
Russell continues to work for the Gazette-Democrat weekly newspaper in Anna, Illinois, driving back and forth each day. They keep taking him back each time he leaves to follow me up and down the railroad. The Old Fart still loves baseball and can't wait until V is old enough to go to a Cardinals' game in St. Louis with us.
Ellen Rose Mertz, CHS Class of 1967