Brush Arbor part 2: The Hunt for Norman Jordan
As previously described here, David's song "Brush Arbor" was one of those "signs" that kept popping up during the research for Pluck that eventually lead me to one of the many treasures. If you haven't read that post, jump back and read it, then return here. This post is all about finally connecting with one of David's closest teenage friends after a year and a half search.
Finding people to interview who knew David during his Nashville years was relatively easy since so many of them are still in the area. The bigger challenge was finding people who knew David in his pre-Nashville years. David's brother Eric and cousins were tremendously helpful with family stories and insights; however, the biggest challenge was finding friends who knew him during his pre-dulcimer years.
I tried every trick I could think of. I cold-called places like his schools and the public library where he grew up to see if anyone remembered him and/or his family. I joined the La Marque Facebook Group and posted queries about the family--no luck. A few people remembered Eric, but no one remembered David. After finding his high school yearbook, I searched for months for people in his high school class on Facebook. The challenge was finding the person with that name who was the right one. Very often there would be twenty "Robert Smiths", some of them clearly in Texas, some of them with vague connections to Texas, and some FB pages had so little info in the profile that they were in effect dead-ends. The most vexing were those who had a close-to-La Marque connection, but hadn't published anything on his or her FB page.
After over a year of searching, on March 28, 2021, finally hit a little bit of pay dirt with someone who didn't know David, but remembered someone who did. He gave me those names, and those people eventually led me to David's junior high buddies John Macrini and Terry Theobald. (You'll read about them in Pluck.) Terry knew about Norman. He told me he thought he lived in some other county close to Galveston County. So, I called all the local libraries, city halls, chambers of commerce, and city clerks offices in counties around Galveston county; whoever answered the phone got the question: Do you know a Norman Jordan in your community? Finally, "Rhonda", a complete stranger, mind you, suggested I call the local tax office in the community and speak to "Karen". Karen, who also didn't know me from Adam, looked up the name on her tax role and found him, but for privacy reasons she couldn't give me his address or phone number. She did give me a workaround to try that had nothing to do with the Tax Office, and, much to my surprise, I found his number.
I called and left a message. Then another. No one returned my calls.
Finally, in an extreme stage of burnout by that point, I decided to let it go. It wasn't meant to be. Give it up; enough already. Right about ten minutes after I heard that directive in my head, the phone rang.
It was Norman. After a long conversation, he sent me photos from his old photo album. Below, his favorite photo of David in his mother's garden in 1971. David was eighteen.