I hadnt been back to dear old Pennsylvania College of Optometry since 1979 on my graduation day. This was my classs 30-year reunion. So, why should I be scared of a simple trip to see my friends from long ago? Well

PCO was where, on the first day of observation in the clinic, I was told to rose bengal a patient. So, I emptied a full tube of that red stuff into each eye and watched in horror as the red dye permanently changed the color of her skin from brow to cheekbone O.U. Oh, I was only supposed to put a dab on a piece of litmus paper and just barely touch her conjunctiva with it?

Banished to the optical, perhaps for life, I proceeded to place a patients zyl frame into a warming salt pan of glass beads. I forgot about them for 10 minutes. By then, they were beaded. I had to buy her new glasses with borrowed money.

PCO was where Dr. Rybachok called me into his office during my second year and asked me, Vickers, what are you going to do for a living someday? I told him I was going to be an eye doctor, sir. He just said, No. Really.

PCO. Dear old Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Could I face it again? Not exactly. Turns out, they moved the campus a few years ago. So, I did not have to return to the traumatic memories of angry, red-faced (literally) Philadelphians. I could bypass that and still reunite with the PCO Class of 79.

My rock band, Lost Cause, was invited to play for the event. The wonderful Heather Giampapa set the whole thing up. She is the Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations for Salus University. As crappy as Ive been about Annual Giving, Im surprised she would even want to speak to me. As I preach to many O.D.s, Ive doubled the amount of my annual donation each and every year since 1979. And this year, doubling my donation as always, I will personally write a check to PCO for $37.28.

Dont panic, Heather. Im joking. As you know, that was last years amount.

So, my wife and I flew to Philly. It was, in fact, a joy to see my classmates again. Oh, Id seen some of them at meetings hither and yon, but most of them I hadnt seen since our graduation day. (Thank the Good Lord, and Heather, for nametags.) They all actually seemed to recognize me. After all, I owed most of them money.

We had a marvelous time. Good food and drink. One of my classmates, Dr. Paul Lobby, has a vineyard! He brought samples of a really nice zinfandel and a malbec that Whitney, the guitar and sax master, loved. Our singer, Vicki, was really, really on at the dance, which covered up my inability to recall the chords to play, due to my innate phobia of professors and, perhaps, a little malbec to boot.

Big Al was Big Al right up until he finished off the night by joining a small team of U.S. Marines in the hotel lobby, with Paul Lobby, to finish off a few pizzas. I never felt so safe. Burke was still my good friend Burke. Phil, Jackie, Sandy, Rob, Lauren, Curt, Clompus, Schwartz and even Tex were there to share stories, like when the then-president of PCO once stepped in Texs puppys deposit. Ah, the good ol days.

Observing from the quiet of my perch on stage, surrounded by dancing O.D.s on one side and screaming amplifiers on the other, I could see that we had much to be thankful for. I did miss seeing The Wass, Space, Garry, The Z, and a few of the othersthe ones I did not actually owe money to.

Vol. No: 146:06Issue: 6/15/2009