Sunday, December 20, 2015
More Friends, from HOME IS WHERE..
Pam was in my grade at school and a real tomboy. She hated school, and the first day of kindergarten, she climbed out of the bathroom window and went home. By the time she was 10, she had broken her collarbone a few times, had broken her arm and had gotten many bumps from falling out of trees.
Pam and we were always in trouble of some sort. Her mom was a little mean, so when she came home from work, we would hightail it for home before she found out what we had been up to. One day we put socks on and sprinkled powder all over the wood floors to polish them. Betty, the mom, came home early before we could clean it up. She wasn't too happy with us.
One summer we had a big family reunion at Pam's. Everyone chipped in to cover the cost. It was great. We saw a lot of relatives and had a great time, much fun, clams to eat and more, games to play, and just talking. I was 12 years old, and that was the last of the big get-togethers of that size. I long for the old days when we were all home, and I miss the smells and excitement of the holidays. We’d play Gene Autry’s “Rudolph,” Burl Ives’s “The Chipmunks,” “Frosty, the Snowman,” and each day we got closer to Christmas. We had our friends over. We all talked about what gifts we hoped would be under the Christmas tree.
I had a school friend, Diana, and I was at her house one day when someone came by on a horse. She asked for a ride, and got on and fell right off. She got a concussion and was in bed the whole summer. I would go up and keep her company a few days a week.
One summer Diana had a slumber party in the house for about eight girls. There was a separate apartment, with bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Her mom cooked homemade pizza. It was great fun. She also had a dog that had two different color eyes, and she had a big yard with grape vines. Diana loved to come to our house, too. She thought that Daddy was so funny. He liked all the kids that came over, and he was nice to every one.
I've often spoken of friendships through years,
especially in the old times. After Tom and I married, I started
to work, first, like all of us, at Chaffee's, where there were
already three of us–mother, my husband (part-time), and
Linda even met her husband there, one of the greatest and funniest guys you would ever meet, someone who would give you his last dollar or the shirt off his back, another person who left us too soon; his name was Jack, and he called everyone "Cool Breeze."
Jack is dearly missed. When they found out that he had cancer and had not much time left, Linda’s dad, Calvin, and her mom, Margie, stayed with them. Calvin cared for Jack night and day. They were not just friends, but father-in-law and son-in-law sharing a relationship of great warmth and depth.
After working at Chaffee's, I then went to work for
Lloyd’s, in Middletown; the store was reopening after a fire. I
got a job there in Men’s Wear and met a lifetime friend,
Joy. We're still sisters / friends.
We laugh over some of our antics: one was that Joy
had come home with me, when Tom worked second shift, so we decided to paint the downstairs hall floor and the stairs and the upstairs hall floor, and then we went to
watch television and wait for the floor to dry; only one problem: we forgot to bring the dogs with us, so a few minutes later we heard the two little guys running in the hall and up the stairs---leaving behind many little paw prints. Needless to say, Tom had to do it all over again, so every time he heard that Joy was coming home with me he would say, “Don't do anything. No painting!" We never did it again. We learned our lesson, but we still have a good laugh over it.
Tom called us “Lucy and Ethel," after the funny wives on the I Love Lucy TV show. Joy and I are still good friends, talking on the phone a few times a week and remembering our times at Lloyd’s and much more.
Another life-long friend is the mother of my first boyfriend, Leon. He was my boyfriend from kindergarten until around fifth grade when they moved. After this we kind of lost touch. Later on, Leon's mother moved, remarried, and started a new family. In 1975 she came back to Maybrook. With her came three daughters. I had not seen her in around 14 years. She was planning on staying in Maybrook, but things didn't turn out that way, so she went back to Texas. Next, she moved to Maine, we reconnected, and we have kept in touch. Before she and I each moved another time, I made three trips to Maine.
She says that moving to St. Louis with her eldest daughter and her husband was the biggest mistake she ever made. She has her U.F.O. writings to keep her busy, but she is isolated there, dependent on them to take her everywhere, something she didn't need in Maine, where she could walk to the post office, the library, and the store. She is forever telling me if I find myself in this position never to do what she did.
I tell her not to worry: up North one time, my
grandsons asked me if anything happened to Grandpa
would I move in downstairs in my own place. I answered
that I would only do it if I had an escape tunnel. I told
them, “I love you all, but no way can two women share the
same space.” We both have our little silly things we do.
We are serializing Kathleen Blake Shields's new book, HOME IS WHERE THE STORY BEGINS: Memoir of a Happy Childhood, published by Outskirts Press this fall and available from OP as well as amazon.com and bn.com and other on-line booksellers. I am proud to have coached Kathy and edited her book.
My web site is http://writeyourbookwithme.com. Take a look if you'd like help getting your book finished and published.