A Tip of the Hatt to Another Ghost From the Past

Joanna Hatt Dalton, left, and her little sister, Aimee, sit in this photo I blatantly borrowed from Aimee's Facebook Page.

Joanna Hatt Dalton, left, and her little sister, Aimee, sit in this photo I blatantly borrowed from Aimee’s Facebook Page.

It’s funny how the spark of a memory can come from out of nowhere, and how quickly it snowballs into a full-blown rush of yesteryear.

One minute you’re sitting there looking through your Facebook feed; next thing you know you’re dancing with ghost after ghost … and, more often than not, smiling.

Joanna Hatt is a name I haven’t thought of in a long time. A long, long, long time.

But on Saturday afternoon while bouncing down through random Facebook posts, I noticed one of my Facebook Friends had shared a post from “Aimee Beth Hatt.”

And so it started.

Joanna Hatt had a little sister named, Aimee, didn’t she?  Could this be the same one?

As I searched through Facebook streams and Google’s search engine, the memories came pouring back, one by one.

Joanna was three years my senior and from what I recall I was probably 17 or 18 when I met her, putting her in college while I was still in high school.

She worked at the Athletic Attic, a sporting goods store which was must-stop for any area athlete in the Bangor Mall, back in the early 1980s.

My best friend, Jody, would later work at the Athletic Attic, too, but from what I remember that was a year or two away.

But both of us became smitten with Joanna and every time we stopped by the Attic and she was working it was a journey made complete.

I guess you could say we were smitten with Joanna, a former track athlete at Bangor High School. She was the older woman we pined for, yet deep down, we both knew was unreachable … maybe not in a Mrs. Robinson sense, but definitely in a college girl vs. high school boys sense.

But she did become our friend. She was able to put aside our foolish immaturity and see us for who we really were. And, as far as we were concerned, that was pretty special in its own right.

Jody and I both connected with Joanna in different ways.

He, after all, was the great distance runner, who would later run in college and recently made it into our high school’s Hall of Fame. (Finally). She was a  pretty good track athlete herself back in the day.

Me? I was a run-of-the-mill high school runner who could never use my times and distances to impress a  member of the fairer sex. But I did have the written word on my side … and when I found out Joanna liked to write, as well, we had our connection.

Writing is a very personal thing and you have to be pretty damned confident in it to want to share it with others. And the moment I realized I might have meant a little something to Joanna was when she shared with me some of the words she had written.

I photocopied many of her writings and kept them in a folder which I entitled, “Jo’s Best.” I want to say I still have that folder somewhere, tucked away in my box of memories, but I’d have to go digging to confirm that it still exists.

Right now, I’m still dancing.

I can’t remember how many times we’d make the journey to Athletic Attic to see Joanna, but it numbered a lot … today, it’d probably be considered stalking.

But I do remember all of us hanging out every so often, and we cherished those times more than anything.

Whether it was grabbing a pizza after work, or making the long trek to my home in Orrington to swim at my pool in the moonlight on a hot summer’s night, when we got to hang out with Joanna Hatt, it was a special time.

I want to say we even met Aimee once at Joanna’s family home. But that’s a recollection still in the fog of a land far away.

Joanna moved from Bangor to Portland shortly thereafter and I do remember making a road trip to visit her.

It was a night than ended up with Jody, myself and his brother, Rob, breaking into Fitzpatrick Stadium, at the bottom of the hill from downtown Portland, and timing ourselves in the dark in 100-meter dashes.

Over the 30-plus years since, the flickers of memories of Joanna were few and far between.

Bangor and Portland sat about two hours apart from one another, so over that distance and over the passing of time, our own futures started swallowing us up. Slowly, Joanna became a fading part of our pasts.

Until she was all but gone.

One Facebook post on a Saturday afternoon changed all that, though.

Just like that, Joanna — who is married now and lives in Massachusetts, from what I discovered — was back front and center in my life, even if for only a few moments in my head.

So, of course, I had to write about it. I think she would appreciate that.


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