Monday, April 22, 2013

From Martinez to Boston

In December of 1987 on a Friday night during my senior year in high school, I stood out on the track of Knowles Field in Martinez, California, with my arms folded behind my back while staring at the brightly lit football scoreboard to my left.   It would be the last time after seven long years (three with Pop Warner and fours years at Alhambra High School), that I would be a cheerleader out on this field and would be retiring my uniform and hanging up my pom poms for good.  Well,  that is, once basketball season was over that following spring-- then I would really hang them up.  But Martinez wasn't a town known for its basketball team-- it was known for its football program.

Also out on that field that night, playing in his varsity football uniform, was a junior named Alan Hern.  I didn't know Alan very well, but Martinez is a small town and Alhambra a small high school, so you couldn't help but at least know of people even if you didn't know them that well personally--because you couldn't avoid each other.  Most social circles would intersect at one point or another.  And in a town where my three older siblings and I all went to the same high school, if you didn't know me, you probably knew one of my brothers or sister.

I have lived in Oakland for about 15 years now and don't really spend much time in Martinez anymore.  But last week when I turned on the news and heard that "a boy from Martinez named Aaron Hern" was injured in the blast during the Boston Marathon, I just thought "Hern? That's gotta be Alan's kid."   I mean, how many Herns live in Martinez? 

Sure enough as the story unfolded, it was confirmed that it was Alan's son who was injured in the blast that day while waiting for his mom to cross the finish line.  Soon Alan was on the news and being interviewed on the Today Show, and then a picture was taken of Michelle Obama visiting his son in the hospital.

"This is freaking surreal," I just thought.  Martinez isn't a city known for making international news about anything.  It's just a small little town filled with antique shops and it pretty much minds its own business.  I mean sure there is some history there, it being the birth place of Joe Dimaggio and the location of the John Muir Museum, and yes-- there is still an argument to this day as to whether or not the Martini drink was really invented there, (San Francisco also takes credit), but that is pretty much it. 

Soon, the city of Martinez was rallying behind Alan's family and local businesses started fundraising and donating proceeds to cover hospital costs.   Then a bank account in Aaron's name was opened at Wells  Fargo, and a Facebook Page was created to bring the latest news.  You see, one of the things about being from a small town, is that it's somewhat difficult to be invisible-- for better or worse.  And in Alan's case, especially since becoming the current head coach for Alhambra's Varsity Football team within the last few years, I am guessing the Hern family is pretty well known.

The good news is, Aaron is healing well and should be able to come home soon.  To get the latest news on his recovery and how to donate to the cause, you can visit the Aaron Hern Recovery Facebook Page.

His old man in high school.

1 comment:

Dean McLeod said...

Having moved from SF to Martinez four years ago, I have to tell you, it's quite a hidden little gem nowadays. There's clearly no glitz in town, but what a great place to live and raise kids, or retire and relax. If you haven't been to Armandos, you're missing a great live music venue. This week Bocci started. One of the largest bocci leagues in the U.S. Shhhh! Don't tell anybody; this is a great town.