ELIZABETH ROGERS

   JEAN  BARNHART 

e-mail address:  pbbj2@comcast.net

Residence: Orinda, CA

Life since high school:
(April, 2001)  Well, Paul (Barnhart) and I have been married for almost 34 years now (as of July 1) and life is pretty good right now. Paul is working his butt off as always, but he loves architecture and has had his own company for 15 years now. He does mostly high density residential buildings e.g., housing for the elderly, and mentally and physically disabled, as well as affordable and subsidized housing for families. He loves to putter in the garden, read and take naps on weekends. I have always flopped around trying to figure out "that special thing" I want to do with my life. Well, the fact is, that special thing was being a mom to our two kids, Ben, 24, a student at UC Santa Barbara, and Brooke, 22, a student at UC Davis. Ben is taking the ten-years-to-graduate route and Brooke is graduating in June. Most important thing about them is that they are good people. So now that I don't need to be Mom most of the time, I am trying to develop my creative side. My real love is acting?imagine that! (which I've been doing in community theatre since 1988). I haven't done any full length plays for about 5 years, but I've been taking acting classes and performing scenes for 2 years. I'm also dabbling in acrylics and drawing class, taking Spanish again and doing lots of volunteer work. I don't know how I had time to work! We are all happy and healthy. And we wish the same for all of you.

Subsequent messages:

(July, 2001) Hi everyone. I hope you are all having a great summer. I have been having a blast getting in contact with more people we've not heard from since high school (Michael Maggi, Michael Brown, Mark Stephens, to name a few). Lany Martell put me on to classmates.com where many of these people have signed on. It's a great place to find people. I haven't finished contacting everyone--the site is very slow moving and it takes a lot of time to write everyone individually, but I'm working on it.

Anyway, things are going well at the Barnhart household. Our daughter, Brooke, just graduated from UC Davis and is in the throes of finding an apartment and a job--not fun. Our son, Ben, is at summer school at UC Santa Barbara and plugging away slowly toward his degree. I can't imagine getting any studying done in Santa Barbara, if you know what I mean. I am currently in a play (acting is my passion) in Castro Valley--"The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue"--and taking acting classes in Walnut Creek. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a sense of urgency to do a lot of creative stuff now...something about the days going by too fast. Paul is working hard as always at his passion (architecture), but has started talking about a five-year plan to retirement. I'll believe that when I see it. But he is happy.

Paul and I have had a great time communicating with Mark Stephens. Hadn't seen him since around 1968 or so. We actually got together for dinner. Something about old friends and being able to pick right up again--it's so wonderful!

(August, 2001) "WHAT PARTICULAR THING HAVE I DONE THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE TO KNOW?"

As for me, I guess bungy jumping about 9 years ago would be the thing I did that was the most daring. I did the deed at Oakwood Park Waterslides in Manteca--about 70 feet--nothing in comparison to those bridge jumps you see, but from 70 feet up it looks mighty far down. I was shaking so hard I could barely sign the release form. I screamed the whole way down, but once over I felt like I could conquer the world. Hmmmm...maybe I ought to do it again to renew that feeling.

(September, 2001) The big news in our family is that our daughter Brooke has gotten her first fulltime job since graduation from college in June. We are very proud of her. She is working with a nonprofit housing developer that builds housing for the elderly and mentally/physically disabled and affordable housing for families.

Paul is designing the new public housing to replace the awful stuff that was located at Mason and Bay in San Francisco. It's a really big job that is wearing him out, but he loves it.

I have just finished performing in "Prisoner of Second Avenue" in Castro Valley. It was a kick! Last night I auditioned for "Jupiter in July" at Playhouse West in Walnut Creek and am very excited to say that I got a callback (that means that I am in the running for a part, but I have to go through a second set of auditions with others who are also called back). I was shaking in my boots because I was auditioning for the person from whom I've taken acting classes for the last two years and I really respect her work. It means a lot to me just to have gotten the callback. I won't know if I get the part until next Tuesday. I'll keep you posted.

(March, 2002) Not a lot of new stuff going on at the Barnhart house. And in this case no news is good news. Paul is working his usual six days a week at what he loves--architecture. He just celebrated the 16th anniversary of his business. His latest and biggest job is designing the new public housing to replace the old public housing located in San Francisco at Bay and Mason (I think?) where the cable car runs just up from the Embarcadero. It's a huge job and will take probably 3 or 4 years. He also has other projects going in Petaluma and San Francisco and on the Peninsula. In his spare time (right, what spare time!) he loves to putter in the garden and nap.

(I am) currently taking yet another acting class. This is ongoing because family life doesn't allow very often for the 3-month commitment it takes to do a play, so acting class affords me the chance to continue acting on a very small scale. Every eight weeks or so I perform a 20-minute scene in front of a few friends and family at the theatre. Right now I'm working on two scenes from "Agnes of God" in which I play the psychiatrist (the Jane Fonda role). One scene is with the Mother Superior of the convent and one is with Agnes, the young nun suspected of killing her newborn baby--pretty intense. I love the process of developing my character and working with others to develop the scene.

Last November I finished my second stint with the Orinda Women's Club as Chairperson of our "Festival of Trees." This is a luncheon, raffle, fashion show for 625 people which raises money for three major beneficiaries each year, each of whom receive about $12,000. We also give about the same amount to our club's Community Services Committee which distributes lesser amounts of $500-$1000 for a variety of scholarships and organizations with smaller budget needs. It's a great way to give back to the community and have social fellowship with a wonderful group of women. This year I will be chairing the committee which takes care of designing and printing the invitations and programs.

Paul and I are looking forward to a family vacation in Pinecrest in July and a trip with another couple to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the city of Prague in Czechoslovakia most of September. We're taking a Rick Steve's (Europe Through the Back Door) tour and can hardly wait. Have any of you taken one of his tours? We'd love your feedback.

Our daughter Brooke, 22, is living in Oakland with her boyfriend Mike. Brooke graduated from UC Davis last June and is working as an admin assistant to two vice presidents of Bridge Housing Corporation in San Francisco, a non-profit housing developer. They are one of Paul's oldest clients. She is discovering that she really misses school (of course) and is looking to go back to grad school when she can figure out specifically what she wants to do. She loves art, nature and traveling.

Our son Ben, 25, is in his 5th year at UC Santa Barbara with one more year to go. He lives with his girlfriend Tania who will be finished this month. Ben's loves are surfing, art, and nature.

I recently got together with Sharon (Day) Rathbun and Mark Stephens. Sharon and Mark hadn't seen each other since high school (I have always kept in touch with Sha and last year got back in touch with Mark). It was a hoot! Mark has a remarkable memory for details of childhood and a remarkable wit to match. It is such a great feeling to rekindle good friendships! I hope you all have the opportunity to do the same.

I also recently went to Konocti Harbor Resort at Clearlake with my sister and saw Tom Jones--brought back lots of memories.

(August, 2002) My gosh this summer is flying! I do hope you are all finding some time to relax, enjoy the sunshine, and spend time with someone you care about.

Personally, I have had a really fun summer--and it's not over yet. In June I went on a two-week road trip, two-thirds of it with a woman friend I've known for 30 years. I drove up to Sisters, Oregon to visit some old friends, stopping on the way to spend the night in McCloud, near Shasta, an area I think is so beautiful. After 3 nights in Sisters, I drove on to Moscow, Idaho to pick up my friend Mary Ann and see her daughter, our goddaughter, and her new 12-week old baby. Boy, they're precious at that age! After a couple of days there, Mary Ann and I drove to Port Townsend, Washington. Now there is a little town I would love to live in! We stayed at the Commander's Beach House, a wonderful B&B just 50 feet from the water, where we could see all the boats going in and out of Puget Sound,  fabulous sunsets and otters playing in the back yard (much to the dismay of the owners--apparently, despite their cute factor, they can be as pesky and destructive as raccoons).

The highlight of our stay in Port Townsend was a whale watching boat tour to Friday Harbor in San Juan Island (28 miles). We saw 8 adult orca whales and 1 baby up close and personal--what a thrill!, otters, seals, puffin birds, and an adult bald eagle couple with their two babies. The weather was great-- 85-90 degrees with no wind, and the water was smooth as glass. Locals joked that we had lucked into the two good weather days of the year.

If Paul and I ever move, Port Townsend is on our list of places. Rain you say? Actually Pt. Townsend averages only 16-18 inches per year, half of what we get in the Bay Area.

Mary Ann and I left Pt.Townsend and headed for Newport Beach, Oregon. We stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel which has a literary theme--each of 20 rooms is decorated around a specific author. We stayed in the E.B. White room (Charlotte's Web). There was also the Agatha Christie room (80 clues relating to each of her books) and the Edgar Allan Poe room (dark, a raven in the corner and a pendulum above the bed). It's a great old place where the top floor is like a huge comfortable old living room with overstuffed sofas and chairs where you can put your feet up and enjoy reading a good book while you watch the sunset over the ocean and drink hot mulled wine at 10 p.m. I highly recommend it. There is also a great beachside boardwalk at the harbor with good restaurants and art-filled shops.

Then on to Ashland, Oregon, one of my favorite all time places (another place on our "maybe we'll move there" list). I have been to Ashland a number of times and always love it. It is the home of the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. Now, I must admit that I am not a true Shakespeare fan--I don't like working that hard to understand what is being said, so I always make myself see one Shakespeare play. But the Festival offers many other plays as well. And the acting, directing, sets, etc. are always superb. On this trip, we didn't take in the Shakespeare Festival at all. Instead, we went to the Oregon Cabaret Theatre and saw "Route 66", a very funny and entertaining musical review. We spent two nights there and headed for home where Mary Ann flew back to Idaho the next day. A really great vacation!

I also just got back from another 4-day trip to Ashland (told you I like it there) with four other women acting friends of mine. This time we spent time working on monologues for an upcoming audition in the Bay Area and two worked on lines for a play they are both in currently. But we also took in the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." You must see this if like laughing. We also saw Route 66 (yes, again for me), Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and a non-Shakespeare play called "Friday, Saturday, Sunday" about a large Italian family in Italy--another two hours of laughter, and then we took a 1-1/2 hour back stage tour and headed home.

Well, like I said I've had a great summer. And you might be asking what about poor Paul? Well he has been working his butt off as usual while I've been playing. But his day is coming--he and I leave in a week for 3 weeks in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. We were also going to spend three d ays in Prague, but with the flooding going on there, we'll make that decision while in Europe.

I've never been away from home this much, but I've enjoyed it thoroughly. Never thought I'd look forward to cooking again, but eating out that much actually made me look forward to just staying home and cooking. I don't suppose that will last too long though.

(October, 2002) Greetings Everyone! I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the fall season (here at least) and its bright falling leaves and brisk air. Your faithful (newsletter) editor has had an amazingly busy, but wonderful summer and lots of traveling experiences.

Paul and I highly recommend the Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door tour group. We met the tour in St. Goar, Germany, near Frankfurt, and traveled through Germany, Switzerland and Austria for two weeks. We traveled by bus with 23 other very fun and interesting people. People who take this kind of trip are not interested in impressing anyone, other than with their map knowledge, so it was a down to earth, good experience.

One of the highlights for me was in Reutte, Austria. We stayed in small, family-run hotels throughout the trip. At the hotel in Reutte, there  was another tour group of older German people. One night, Gabby, the owner of the hotel (her family had owned the hotel for 100 years) took all of us for a walk on a dark road behind the hotel. We stopped in a field near a barn and faced a mountain topped by some Roman ruins. Soon there were fireworks and lights came on which lit up the ruins in all their glory. The town was celebrating this first time lighting of the ruins. Gabby then served some sweet wine and the Germans began to sing. I have no idea what they were singing, but it was beautiful. When they were through, our group (all Americans) bega n to sing--America the Beautiful. Each group took turns singing songs and clapping for one another. When the chill became too much, we all walked back to the hotel. Gabby's father arrived in beautiful costume because he had been the grand marshall at a parade in town. We all went inside and gathered around a piano, both groups intermingling, sitting on steps, chairs, the floor. Our head guide, Margaret, had been a professional opera singer, and the assistant guide had sung with a band years ago. Gabby's father began playing Gershwin tunes and Margaret sang. A German lady seated next to me on the stairs urged Margaret to kiss the pianist on the cheek when they finished and everyone laughed. Then a pianist from the German group took his turn at the piano and Margaret sang some more. Again, the woman next to me urged Margaret to kiss the pianist--more laughter. Then we all held hands and sang Auld Lang Syne. Margaret explained in German that this is a song Americans sing to let go of the old year and bring in the new, that it is essentially a song of forgiving, letting go and renewal. Many of the Germans had tears in their eyes. I suddenly got up and grabbed the lady next to me and kissed her on both cheeks. Then another German lady grabbed me and gave me a big hug. Soon it was a hug fest and we were all tearful and laughing. It was a moment I'll never forget.

I'd love to hear of some of your unforgettable moments.

By the way, I have been cast in a play called "Marvin's Room" which will be performed in Antioch, CA in January at the Antioch Rivertown Theatre. You may have seen the movie with Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. I was fortunate enough to get the Meryl Streep part. I'm really excited about this. (I hope I don't eat my words.)

(December, 2002) In mid-November Paul and I managed a weekend away at Mendocino on the oh-so-lovely coast. We love it there so much. Had some great beach bluff walks, enjoyed the little stores and time in the bookstore, took in a play by Neil Simon, Lost in Yonkers, and spent a rainy afternoon in our bed and breakfast playing scrabble. If any of you haven't been there, you must treat yourself. We love to stay about 2 miles south of Mendocino at Glendeven Inn or across the street at Rachel's Inn, two of our favorite B&Bs.

We had a richly chaotic, but loving Thanksgiving at my brother Michael's house in Vacaville, with my other brothers, my sister and stepmother and a bunch of little ones, about 20 of us. And this coming Sunday, we will host about 30 adults and 15 children, all my aunts and uncles and cousins and their chilren from my mom's side, for our annual extended family Christmas party. It is a tight squeeze indeed, but fun nonetheless, with our usual pinata breaking, singing of Christmas carols, catching up on each other's lives and eating WAY too much food. Amazingly noisy and raucous. Needless to say, we really hope for no rain that day!

I would like to invite any of you who can make it to see the play I will be in in January. It is called Marvin's Room, and is a poignant, yet funny heart string tugger. You may have seen the movie with Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. I am lucky enough to have the Meryl Streep part, though any remote resemblance in any way is merely accidental. Please don't come expecting Meryl Streep! We will perform the nights of Jan. 10, 11, 17, 24, 25 and on Jan. 19 for a matinee. The play is put on by the Antioch Rivertown Theatre (www.artheatre.org) at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center in Antioch, CA at 213 "F" Street in the historical dowtown area. For reservations, call 925-473-4741. I caution you that Friday night commutes in that area are horrendous and can take me at least 1.5 hours from Orinda (normally a 35 min. drive), so you may want to try for Saturday night or the Sunday matinee.

(July, 2003) Well hello everyone! Believe it or not, I am sending another newsletter. I can't believe it's been 7 months since I last sent one out. I've just had some things on my plate that were more important at the time. The first thing was that I was in a play in January, "Marvin's Room," which I've already told you about. It was a fun experience and seems like yesterday. After that I had lots of work to do in my position as President of the Orinda Woman's Club. I was quite happy to hand off the gavel to someone else in May. It's a great club-many wonderful women and many opportunities to do meaningful things and raise funds for deserving organizations, as well as to have fun. More important than those things, my stepmother was dying of liver cancer and I wanted to spend time with her. I'm so glad I did that because she took a sudden turn for the worse and passed away in June. On a bright note, a week later we attended our son Ben's graduation from UC Santa Barbara which was truly wonderful, and a week later we had a big celebration for him at our home in Orinda. And last, but not least, one week later we had our TN class picnic which was such a treat

(May, 2004) Paul and I have had a very nice year. Paul, an architect, has been working hard on his latest, biggest project ever. I don't know how many of you will remember the two-square blocks of public housing located in San Francisco on Bay Street in North Beach. Those horrid prison-like buildings have been razed, and Paul has redesigned the new public housing. That is a four-year project that will end in December. Paul is looking to wind down his career then and has hooked up with another architect. Paul will get the jobs through his contacts and do the design only. The other architect will do all the working drawings and run the project, AND take on the liability--a sweet transition to retirement. I never thought I'd see the day!  I've been very busy with acting in community theatre and lots of volunteer work, along with a wonderful trip to Baja Mexico at the end of February, during which I actually had the privilege of petting one mother and two baby grey whales with my own hands in the Pacific Ocean--what an immeasurably moving moment in my life! Our son Ben (27) is working at Paul's office saving the tuition to attend wooden boatbuilding school in Port Townsend, Washington in September, and our daughter Brooke (25) and her boyfriend will return home on May 22 from a five-month fun trip to South America, including Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands--just for fun. How lucky are they?! And how grateful am I for email?! That's the major news at the Barnhart home.

(July, 2004) Summer is in full swing  now and the garden is blooming like mad, thanks to Paul's loving handiwork. I tend to just sort supervise, you know: "Why did you put that there?" or  "Wouldn't that be better off with more (or less) sun?" or "Don't overdue, watch your back." Yup, I'm a great garden supervisor. Oh, I get out there now and then to prune - Paul hates to prune. It's like throwing something away and it's just not in Paul's repertoire. Now I really like pruning, not that I know what I'm doing, but it gives me the same satisfaction as painting a room. Lots of immediate payoff - none of this wait-until-it-grows stuff.  I think that's why I have such a hard time putting a quilt together; it just takes too long. I'm thinking of something else after the first thirty minutes. And it's not like I'm a physically active person. I could sit and watch TV or movies all day long and my only exercise would be going to the kitchen for a snack. Now, Paul has the gift of staying power. When he puts his mind to something, it gets done. He doesn't worry about reading directions or doing it the "right" way, he just digs in and gets it done. So he gets that immediate payoff no matter what he does. Fortunately, he really does know what he's doing with architecture. Me, I have to read books and see what the experts say about how to accomplish something. And the "right" way always seems so overwhelming, it just never happens. So I'm in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. You'd think that after 42 years (!) of being together, some of Paul's way of being would rub off on me wouldn't you? It just doesn't seem to work that way. My loss, I must say!

(December, 2004) December 7, 2004? WAIT!!! What happened to October and November?!  Somebody, please, slow life down. It's going way faster than I can deal with. WHAT? I HAVE NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER? Oh. Okay - I'll guess I'll stop carrying on and just carry on.

I hope everyone had a fun-filled Halloween. I just love opening the door to all those little ones. Ever since one of our neighbors decided about  7 years ago to build a Halloween crawl through spook house in his garage, we've had the pleasure of about 80 plus little ones (and not so little uncostumed ones) come to our door. Before that we were lucky to get 10.

Around mid-November my woman's club (60) of us put on our annual fund raiser at the San Ramon Marriott Hotel. It's called the Festival of Trees and includes a NY style runway fashion show, a luncheon, and a raffle of decorated table top Christmas trees and wreaths and gift baskets (over $15,000 worth of goods and services in the baskets alone). We raised about $50,000 in that afternoon. It is a huge undertaking, but it feels so good to give the money to our beneficiaries each year. I chaired it twice and emceed four years, so I am intimately acquainted with all the nuances. I am very proud of our efforts. I sure would like to know what all of you do in your spare time. I know, -- what spare time?

And Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a warm, loving time with your families and friends and, no doubt, the TV. We spent the time with friends, our daughter and her boyfriend who live nearby and our son who came down from Port Townsend, Washington where he is attending wooden boatbuilding school (yup, you heard right). We also had some very long time friends visit from Oregon. Between both kids sorting, purging and moving the last (or almost last) of their stuff out of our house and into new abodes, entertaining the out-of-town guests and fitting in a Thanksgiving dinner, it was a bit of a lovely whirl, but worth every second. Of course, you wouldn't have guessed I felt that way with the perspiration dripping down my forehead -lovely picture, isn't it?

So now the Christmas tree is up. It's hard to get used to doing it without the kids around, but Paul and I did it before kids, and we have no  plans to stop just because they're doing their own trees now. So many memories come out of those storage boxes with each ornament that is hung. It is our fervent hope that you and yours have (had) a lovely Christmas or Hanukkah or winter solstice celebration - however it is that you come together with the special people in your life -- and that you find a way to reach out to others in the spirit of giving and gathering.

(August, 2006) Let's see, what's new? Well, Paul retired from his architectural business in June of '05 and is very much enjoying not doing much on a daily basis, although he is getting in a reasonable amount of backpacking in the Sierras and on the coast. He is also loving gardening and spends every minute possible puttering outside. He had a short stint with oil painting with some very nice results. His other loves are reading and traveling.

I (Jean) am still involved in the Orinda Woman's Club, raising money for organizations providing services to women and children in need. Also through the club, I'm in a Stitch & Bitch group doing a touch of knitting and needlework, a book club and a daytime adventure club (exploring a variety of bay area neighborhoods on foot). I also take tap dancing now and then. My acting activities have been stalled for about three years now--just decided the anxiety was more than I wanted to deal with for a while.

We just came back from the most glorious week's trip on the inside passage of Alaska, from Wrangell to Juneau, with 10 other people and a 4-person crew, one of them being a naturalist. We hiked on waterways with grizzlies and black bears, saw many bald eagles, saw many humpback whales lunge feeding and bubble net feeding, many orca whales, harbor seals, stellar sea lions, etc. etc. etc. It was the most amazing trip ever and there are no words to describe the beauty. Paul Thompson, we understand why you live there. However, it must be said, there just aren't enough sunny days for us :) By the way, Paul T., we did anchor for a few hours in Petersburg and on a very nice day! Sweet little town.

Our son Ben is, as we speak, in our carport building a kayak on commission. He is a true craftsman. If any of you would love a beautiful wooden kayak or a skin-on-frame kayak (a baidarka), I know the builder for you. Just let me know. He would like wooden boat building (not just kayaks) to be his career and wants to also teach children many things through that medium. Quite a guy!

Our daughter Brooke will married on August 26 to her wonderful fiancé Mike. They've been together seven years now, so they're pretty sure they are right for each other. We're pretty sure too :) We are getting very excited now!

(August, 2010) 2010 reunion questionnaire response.

(November, 2015)  See the 2015 reunion questionnaire response.

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