Anne on April 20th, 2014

I mentioned at the end of how I came to be making my own life decisions at the age of 11 that the next bit of my life was spent in Arlington, Massachusetts. But I didn’t share how or why.

As may be imagined, given my rather erratic childhood up until then, and with the onset of adolescent hormones, I was not always the easiest of children. Living with the Leos in Putney that year, Peggy’s boyfriend Richard and I locked horns more than once, and to say that we did not get along would be an understatement.

At the end of the school year, when I was 12, I went to visit someone in Massachusetts. I have no recollection of who I was visiting, or how I got there. What I do remember is that as I was leaving, Richard informed me that I had better find a place to live while I was away in Massachusetts, as I was no longer welcome there.

While I don’t remember how I got to Massachusetts, or with whom I was visiting (or, for that matter, where I stayed when I got there), I do remember who it was that found me the next family with whom I would stay.

His name is Os Cresson. I have always remembered him, and his kindness, and his role in my life (and, I believe, his being someone who likely saved my life).

What I remembered most was that it was he who was instrumental in connecting me with the Taylor family – mother Ann Winder Taylor, father Richard Taylor, and children Lorna, Jeff, and Linda Taylor – with whom I would live for the ensuing year.

Moreover, Lorna was to remain in my heart forever as one of my very best friends.

What I could never remember was how Os (pronounced “Oz”) and I met, let alone how he came to be the conduit through which I came to live with the Taylors.

In 2004, after some time searching and researching, Os and I reconnected by email. I had been looking for him, to thank him for helping me all those years ago (back in 1971!), and to let him know that I’d turned out ok. Then we lost touch again, only to reconnect in 2012.

When I mentioned to Os, in 2012, that I had moved to Boulder, he told me that he had a niece who lived in Boulder. He mentioned that one of his niece’s sons was involved with a particular music program, and that is when I learned that Os’ great-nephew and my son knew each other, because my son was in the same music program!

What an amazing coincidence!

The very next time that I brought my son to the music program, I waited for Os’ niece Rebecca to drop her son off, and I fairly pounced on her! As I relayed the story to her of how Os had taken me under his wing and found a family for me to live with, she remarked “That sounds like Uncle Os!”

But I couldn’t fill in any of the details, because I had either forgotten them, or never knew them.

Well, last week I received a very exciting email from Os – he was coming to town, along with his sister, Wetherill Cresson Winder, to visit his niece Rebecca – who is his sister Wetherill’s daughter, and the mother of my son’s music colleague. Was I available to get together?

Was I?? Wild horses wouldn’t have kept me from finally reconnecting with, and thanking, this wonderful man!

So today, April 19th, 2014 – fully 43 years after Os Cresson first entered my life, I got to thank him in person, to give him a huge hug (as he said, 43 years between hugs is too long!), and to ask him all the questions I wanted, to fill in the blanks.

 Rebecca Winder, Os Cresson, Wetherill Cresson Winder
rebecca winder os cresson wetherill cresson-3
From left to right: Rebecca Winder, Os Cresson, Wetherill Cresson Winder

Os’ sister Wetherill was married to Alan Winder. Alan Winder’s sister Ann Winder and her then-husband Richard Taylor, took me in when I was 12, and I stayed with them for about a year in Arlington, Massachusetts. Rebecca (Wetherill’s daughter) now lives in Boulder, where I now live, and our sons had been in the same music program for a couple of years without any of us realizing the connection!

What Os remembers is that he met the 12-year-old me at a concert. It might have been a Who concert, or it may have been another concert, he wasn’t sure. But he and I started chatting, and he, he says, realized that I might be at risk. Not because I would be shy and acquiesent if someone tried to do something to me, but because I was so fearless and sure of myself that I might end up in a bad situation in which it would be too late to extricate myself. So he gave me his telephone number, which one of us wrote down on a scrap of paper, and said that I could call him any time if I needed something.

Three months later, says Os, I called him and asked him whether his offer of help was still available. I needed a place to stay. At that point, says Os, he contacted the Taylors and asked them whether I might be able to stay with him. Then he and Dick Taylor – who was married to Os’ sister Wetherill’s husband’s sister Ann Winder – came and picked me up.

Os says that when they arrived, I showed him that scrap of paper, that I had carried with me that whole time. It had other numbers on it too, and the writing was all faded. He offered to rewrite his number and I refused, I didn’t want anybody messing with that scrap of paper.

I stayed with the Taylors for the school year, going to the Warehouse School, where I met another of my lifelong friends, Aron Oglesby, and also going on a road trip with the Taylors and Os and his sister Wetherill. That trip definitely deserves its own post.

[As an added bonus, my son arrived while we were all still having tea together, and so he and Os got to meet each other. Then, after having tea, as we all walked towards the Boulder Farmer's Market, we Facetimed with Lorna, and Lorna and Os, and Lorna and Wetherill, got to say hello to each other!]

But what I want to highlight right now is how absolutely amazing it was – and how grateful I am – to have been able to thank this beautiful, incredible man, who may very well have saved my life all those years ago, by taking an interest, offering me his number, and responding to my call and, ultimately, finding me a place to live during that year of my life.

Os is not only a wonderful human being, but he is also an author, with lots to say about being an atheist Quaker, and one’s role in the world.

He just released his second of three books, called Quaker and Naturalist Too.

Thank you Os, for being you, and for rescuing me, all those years ago.