2020 Life Logs, Day 283: Memories from 56 Years Ago
Date: Saturday, October 10, 2020
Weather: Warm and Windy; High 69, Low 54 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, Falmouth, MA
I was talking to my sister tonight and I asked her when she last talked to her best friend from high school, a friendship that continued throughout their adult lives. But evidently when my sister moved to Tennessee in 2015 and my brother-in-law got so sick, she lost contact. The cell phone number she has just isn’t working. I didn’t know this until I asked the question tonight, so when we got off the phone, I sent a Facebook message to the Mayor of Nitro, West Virginia, asking him if he could help me find out the current whereabouts of Bob and Helen Strickland. For some reason, he is a friend of mine on Facebook. Amazingly, two seconds later he got back to me saying that he will check into it for me but that he believes they still live at the address I sent to him. It is at times like this that I absolutely love Facebook.
My sister Patsy was 16 and Helen was 15 in the spring of 1950. They were best friends attending Nitro High School when Helen and Bob got married. My sister was their witness and their friendship continued for 65 more years until they lost contact. I really hope the mayor can help me get them back together.
This all came up because yesterday my sister-in-law asked if Helen was still living. I had not heard otherwise, so I said that I thought so. But that caused me to inquire. My sister-in-law also pointed out that it will 56 years on Monday that my brother Bennie, her husband, died suddenly of pancreatitis when he was just 33 years old. That Monday was October 12, 1964, exactly one year from this coming Monday. Thinking about that brought back vivid memories of that time. Bennie and Sue and their three children lived close to my parents in Nitro. I was a senior at Nitro High School and it was the weekend for decorating floats for Homecoming on the following weekend. I was a cheerleader and all members of the squad were spending the weekend together. We worked all of Friday evening on the floats and then went to a fellow cheerleaders house to spend the night. I could see my house up on the hill from the front yard of where we were staying. We stayed up half the night and I kept wondering why the porchlight was on at my house all night. But the next day there was an afternoon football game followed by more decorating and another night at the friend’s house. When I went home on Sunday morning, I found out that my brother had been hospitalized on Thursday, had almost died on Friday night, but was recovering. I was told that no one had told me so I wouldn’t worry, but I was not happy and really wanted to see my brother. I went to the hospital and had a nice visit with him. He made fun of me for having my hair in a ponytail on the top of head and we laughed together. He had an infectious laugh that always made me so happy and I left the hospital thinking he was just fine. But when I got home from school on Monday, no one was there. Everyone was at the hospital because my brother had died. What a tough life lesson. Life is not guaranteed. It can go away in an instant. Now 56 years later, we are waiting to hear about the passing of his daughter Lynn, only 66 years old. It doesn’t sound like she will make it to Monday, but it will be very ironic if she does and then dies on the same day—October 10th and a Monday—56 years apart.
On a happier note, I met a new neighbor today. I live next door to Shirley, the women who owns the cottage I rent, and the house next door to her sold recently. When I was walking Shadow down the street yesterday morning before heading north to Boston, I saw a young man, about the age of Heather and Jed, park his fancy sports car with a New York license plate next to the house that just sold. For two weeks, workers have been installing a new septic system in the front yard and I saw him walk up to one of the workmen and start talking. So I figured he might be the new owner. I didn’t see his car when I walked Shadow this morning, so I assumed he had left. But then this afternoon when I was playing ball with Shadow down by the dock, the young man walked out to his dock. We introduced ourselves and had a great conversation. He and his wife are originally from England but have most recently been living just north of New York City with their three children, almost the same ages as Sam, Jonah, and Ollie, but two girls who are 8 and 14 with an 11 year-old boy in the middle. He closed on the house yesterday and will meet with the construction crew on Monday morning that will renovate the entirety of the inside of the house over the next few months. When that is done, the family will move in full-time. So many of my neighbors are summer residents only, so it was great to learn that I will have another year-round neighbor.