One of the great things about living in the city where I grew up is that I still see my childhood friends.
This morning’s weather was especially unpleasant as I readied myself for a special date. Given my mood the last couple of weeks, the timing was perfect. My Outlook appointment showed, “St. Andrews Crew.” At the appointed time, a small group of friends (since 1956) met for breakfast at an Irondequoit diner, not far from where we went to school. This group has stuck together for over fifty years! There are five of us who meet on a regular basis: me, my sister, Donna, Patti, Joan and Roz. We typically try to meet for breakfast or lunch every 2-3 months. The last couple of years have proved more challenging for us as we cared for our aging parents, took care of our children’s weddings, waited for grandchildren and buried our parents. A lot of life happening around us.
So, this morning, despite the nasty weather and drive, I was super excited to see my girlfriends. Here’s the thing about childhood friends. It really doesn’t matter how much time passes between visits because once you see each other, it feels like you were together just yesterday. This morning was no exception. Of course, I see my sister regularly and Roz and I are together often, but when we add Joan and Patti to our mix, it’s even better. We catch up on what’s been going on in our lives, we reminisce about the “good old days,” but mostly, we laugh. A LOT. It’s the best. The general topics of our chatter change as the years pass, but when we start talking about good times, it’s like we are 14 again.
This morning, I brought up the day four of us took our entrance exams for high school. Joan, Patti and I took the test for Mercy and Roz took the test for Kearney. My high school listserv recently asked a trivia question about February 8, 1964, which prompted me to bring it up. Anyway, I remember the day Joan and I took that exam. The test was on a Saturday. We had tickets to the Shrine Circus that afternoon. Michael Landon, “Little Joe,” from the popular TV show, “Bonanza,” was the headliner. We were two 13-year olds more concerned about getting to the War Memorial after the test, than whether we actually passed the test.
You must understand that Michael Landon was a heart-throb. Within a week of our seeing him, he would be replaced in our hearts by The Beatles, but on that day, we were wild with excitement.
We took the city bus from Mercy High School to downtown Rochester and walked to the War Memorial. Isn’t it amazing that we could do stuff like that back then? Imagine letting your grandchildren do that today. But I digress. Back to our story. Once inside Joan and I decided to do a little exploring to see if we could find Little Joe. We bravely traversed the lowest level of the WM in our quest to find our hunk. Finally, we came across a contingency of security people whose eyes were darting here and there as they scanned the halls. As Joan is telling the story today, I start remembering more of the details and my sister says, “You never told me this!” Before long, Joan and I were pulled into the area where Mr. Landon was to enter the arena. Someone told us to stand on either side of him and lock our arms in his as he walked the tunnel into the arena.
Our moment of fame was brief but glorious. Though I can’t remember specifically, I am sure my heart was pounding as we escorted him to the screaming crowd. Wow, what a story! It sounds embellished. It might be, but I really enjoy listening. It’s important to note that Joan’s memory is the best of the group. She can spit out details like watermelon seeds. This is an especially important competency as we continue to age!
That was the big story for this morning. Keep in mind the telling took just minutes of a two-plus hour breakfast. There were lots of other memories to share during our time together. It was a great time. A GREAT TIME! After we paid our checks, we lingered in the vestibule for another ten minutes before we kissed and hugged and headed back into the storm.
Meeting at a restaurant is too time restrictive for us now. We have lots to catch up on given our long break. We promised to schedule a Friday evening dinner with wine in early April. I am the designated inviter, and Roz is the designated hostess. We even joked about a sleepover. Who knows, maybe it will happen. I, for one, can’t wait!