05 September 2007

Forty years

It's hard to believe it's been this long, but forty years ago, plus or minus a day or few, I met my best friend.

1967 was The Summer of Love, but it was also a time of unrest - there were race riots in Newark, Detroit and Milwaukee, amongst other places. I don't recall my mother's ever showing any signs of prejudice, despite having grown up in Florida and Georgia during the '20s, and there wasn't much going on in Waukegan*, but she was still a little nervous about having me walking to school by myself. Fortunately for her peace of mind, one of the ladies she worked with had a son who was also starting eighth grade, and they lived just a few blocks away, on a reasonable route to school.

So early one September morning I presented myself at Gary's house, to walk the rest of the way to school. But Gary already had a friend he walked to school with, so our first stop was at his house.

And thus it began....

Turned out that the friend shared my interest in the military, as well as other things, and we hung out together all the rest of the way through school. We'd go to one of the local cinemas (there were three, plus the X-rated one) to see films like A Stranger in Town, The Hell with Heroes, Two Mules for Sister Sara, or Chrome and Hot Leather. We'd sit at his house and watch Ray Rayner or Garfield Goose on telly, or play game after game of Scrabble, or The Game of Life. We'd wander around the malls, or downtown, or one of Waukegan's great city parks.

I dropped out of high school in '72. He (two years younger than I, but only one year behind in school) graduated in '73, then joined the Army later that summer. We lost track of each other for a few years after I moved to Iowa; by the time we hooked up again he was in Rhodesia and I was married. We kept in touch by post during the next few years, while he roamed the world and I stayed at home in Iowa. Then I joined the Navy, and a few years after that he settled down. The last time I actually saw him was in the spring of '87, when he had a brief stop in Honolulu on his way home to Australia, but we still keep in touch, by mail and e-mail (and sometimes even by way of this blog).

Happy anniversary, mate!

* Though there'd been a riot there the preceding summer.

1 comment:

churchmouse (Dorian) said...

I have to ask: was this friend nicknamed "Cat" or "Indian"?

I had no idea that you dropped out of HS in '72 (so did I)! Did that seem troubling to you as it did to me? I mean, we were Seniors, after all...