Best Friends--Good Friends
Knox County — A good part of the happy memories you have in life come as the result of the friends you have around you; or the friends you meet along the way. You have best friends and good friends and the line between the two is often blurred. I’m not going to label the friends I talk about here as a best friend or good friend. Both were always good friends to me. As Iggie says in “Fried Green Tomatoes” which I watched on TV yesterday for the thousandth time, “The best thing you can have in life is good friends.”
The situation you find yourself in during your lifetime often dictates what good friend you have at the time. I have a best friend in Connecticut as well as a best friend in the work situations or school situations I’ve found myself in.
Let’s begin with the South End. I had girl friends as well as boy friends for playmates growing up in the South End. I remember Janie Ames, Dotty Childs, Janet Rackliff, and Madeline Post as the girls who lived closest to me on Mcloud Street and who I hung around with the most. It depended on who was available to play with. I also wandered over to Linden Street through connecting back yards to check out what Bobby Lord or Donnie Pomroy was doing.
My very good friend, Rose Ann Small moved into the neighborhood, down on the lower end of Fulton Street, when we were pre-teens. We lived on the upper end. Her mother and mine became good friends as did Rose Ann and I. I never would have passed bookkeeping in high school if I hadn’t copied her workbook and her balance sheet. They say you won’t know how to do something later in life if you copy someone else’s work. Very true. I will never be a bookkeeper. I couldn’t even balance a checkbook if my life depended on it. Somehow I muddle through though.
Rose Ann and I danced the afternoons away as we hurried home to watch Bandstand on T.V. She and I also worked out tap dance routines to perform at school. Along with Deanna Allard and Dotty, we had a lot of good laughs down at Rose Ann’s house.
The Rockland High School Class of 1959 (yes, the Lincoln Street School); have always been close. I count many of them among my lifelong friends.
The rotary memories when we packed the old DeSoto with giggling girls and “bombed the rotary” are among some of the best memories I have. At any given time there would be Sandra Sleeper, Violet Carr, Pat Graves, Patty Burch, or JoAnne Knowlton. All of whom I count among my good friends today. Some of the younger sisters like Reenie Sleeper and Marion Knowlton tried to get a seat in the DeSoto, but we rarely let them come with us. My younger sister, Sally, wouldn’t even deem to ask. I think we were too afraid they’d tattle on us or something if we got too rowdy up on Main Street. We lost Marion in a car accident, unfortunately.
Along with this group of friends in high school I also had friends in the band, on the girls basketball team, in girl scouts and in the drum corps. Once in a while a picture will come to light of one of those groups which always brings a smile to my face as well as a lot of good memories.
The friends you meet later on in your life are sometimes hard to keep in contact with. You know they were really good friends when one of them attempts to reunite with you. I’ve had that experience in the past few years with an old college roommate down in Machiasport, Sandra Prescott and Lucy Valiante, who became a roommate after college and whose wedding I was in. I’ve written about both of them in this blog.
I would like to get in contact with another college roommate, Diane Longstaff, who was a dorm mate my senior year. She and her husband moved to Alaska to teach and I corresponded with her for a long time. I’ve heard that her husband, who was a class above us in the same college, has passed away. I certainly hope that’s not true.
In another school I attended I became good friends with a girl from Belfast, Betty Ann Cobb. I also was friends with a girl from New Orleans, Beryl Segre, who I reconnected with when I lived in Connecticut and she was working at Yale University Hospital down in New Haven. Beryl had a beautiful singing voice and was also a pianist. We spent many nights standing behind her at the piano and harmonizing our favorite popular tunes. Her cousin sent me a note several years ago to inform me that Beryl had died from heart failure. I was very sorry to hear that.
Betty Ann introduced me to the sport of curling up at the Belfast Curling Club. Her folks were Scottish, from Canada, and used the club as a social meeting place as well as a place to play the game. I tried it one day and wasn’t very good at throwing the stone, but I was a pretty darn good sweeper. They used real brooms then. As far as I know the club still exists and I hope to reconnect with the sport later on. Maybe I’ll run into Betty Ann. We sure had some good times running around Belfast.
I had a wonderful experience one summer when I attended summer school at Gorham State, now part of the UofM. I met up with three girls who became quite good friends which extended beyond our brief time together at the school. Nancy, Newk (Shirley Newcomb), Bonnie, and I partied hard that summer. I don’t know how we ever got through exams but we did.
We took turns going to each other’s houses to visit. If I’d never met these girls I probably would never have learned about these parts of Maine which I had never visited at that point.
One week we went to Bonnie’s family’s beach house down in Biddiford Pool. The house was huge and sat almost on the beach itself. The family was quite well off I think and they belonged to a summer “beach club” which we all took advantage of. The most I remember of that weekend was Newk, who had a couple too many beers and ended up walking through some rose bushes in her bare feet and legs. We spent the rest of that night walking her through the salt water to try to heal up her wounds and then later pulling the rose thorns out of her legs. Ouch!
We also went to Newk’s family home which sat on a lake in Norway, Maine. Another good time.
Next I think was my house for the Lobster Festival. We all camped out in my parent’s vacant apartment which was attached to the main house on Fulton Street. Newk at that time had a boyfriend at Maine Maritime and arranged for all of us to have dates with a Maine Maritime boy. The guys were all camped out in a loft somewhere nearby. That was one fun weekend.
I also got to experience Presque Isle and Aroostook County for the first time when we all went up to Nancy’s house for a weekend. I remember we ate venison while we were there. The first time I’d ever eaten deer meat. I wrote a snow story about a later visit I had to Nan’s house which I posted here.
It’s not possible to write about every friend I’ve met in my life so far, so I’ll just name a few more briefly. In Connecticut: Iris Mirles, my camping buddy; Steffie Nelson, a fellow proofreader at the Hartford Courant; Ann, also a HC proofreader who moved to NYC and who I swapped apartments with so she could visit her boyfriend in Hartford and I could explore the West Village in New York. Steffie was a former teacher who had retired. We sat side by side and tried to use big words no one would understand and make up words or mispronounce words to boot. It was great fun. I also met many friends while I attended Fairfield University and did some grad work at the YWCA in Meriden; and our good friend and neighbor in the trailer park in Meriden, Barb Hamilton, who always invited us to breakfast of a Sunday morning. She had two boys named Scott and Todd and her husband’s name was George.
One summer, Iris and I camped out over at Sandy Shores. We set up a flimsy nylon tent in “iffy” ground. We weren’t sure it would hold. Come the middle of the night and a downpour, causing the tent to collapse. We grabbed our sleeping bags and ran for her Volkswagen Beetle and turning on the radio, we discovered that Elvis had died. We spent the rest of the night listening to Elvis music.
I have many friends on Facebook who I’ve never met. Here’s a shout out to these friends who I hope to meet some day: Ruth Wade, Scout Tisone, Becky Brobst, Robin Robinson, Deborah Szmauz, Janet Bennett, Raymond Harrington, Laurel Pierce, Mary Madison, Susan Groder, Susan Kelly, Jill Bean, Norma Lande, Jane Karker, Danielle Burgess, Pat Wentworth, Randall Achorn, Dorothy Burns, and Shirley Main.
Here in Georgia are many more friends, not the least of which is Dian and Debbie who graciously allowed Nanci and I and the cats to live with them for six weeks until we could get relocated after the flood.
It is my dream to someday arrange an event where all the friends I’ve met in my life could convene all at the same time. I would be the only one there who knew everybody, at least if I could recognize them at this age. Wouldn’t that be something? But that’s another story.
Hang on to your friends. Keep them close. Try not to lose touch. Above all, keep the memories alive in your mind or by writing it all down like I’ve done here.
Thanks for listening.