I remember them. There were several whose names I can recall, and whose images are clear in my mind–well at least it seems clear to me these many years later. They were my friends. There were Shirley Snow, Barbra Day and Novella Cagle, among others.
Barbra was my friend in school and once when we were in second grade, the principal came into our class, called for Barbra and me, and took us to the third grade classroom. Every afternoon we walked together part of the way home, and on that day, when we reached the spot where we went our separate ways, I said, “Bye, third grader.”
She grinned at me, her dark brown eyes flashing and returned the words, “Bye, third grader.”
Her parents deliberately spelled her name differently: Most whose names sounded the same were spelled Barbara, and I recall her explaining to me that the spelling Barbra excelled that of Barbara. I was impressed. Her dad’s name was Raymond, and I think they were a little richer than we were. Once as I spent the night at their place, there was a pencil laying out on a surface, and I asked, “Whose pencil is that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Anyone who wants it, I guess.”
I still don’t know why that made such an impression on me, but I recall it to this day. Perhaps it was because we didn’t have spare pencils laying about at our house. Sounds silly today, I know. When we were a few years older, one afternoon after school, Barbra and I walked to the hospital and visited with her mom who was very sick. She died a bit later…and I recall an occasion when Barbra and I stood on the sidewalk and cried together.
Of all my childhood friends, I probably spent more time with Shirley Snow than with anyone else. We were about the same age and attended the church in Springfield, Mo. that my dad pastored. The Snows lived in the country near Strafford, Mo. and Brother Snow worked for O’Kino’s Dairy. Shirley was beautiful and had long, curly hair, which I envied a lot, except after we had been running in the wind, and her mother sat down, positioned Shirley between her legs, and began the fierce task of brushing out that tangled hair. Shirley yelped. Sister Snow made delicious Pineapple-Upside Down cakes, whose taste I can fairly feel in my mouth as I write this.
Novella Cagle also attended our church, and was a year or two older than Shirley and me. I recall gawking at her when she had her first boyfriend, and I remember a beautiful green outfit she wore. She seemed so wise and so superior.
They left a few minutes ago; long-time friends of Jerry’s and of mine–friends we have known since before we were married. Pat and Wendell Meyers live in Washington state near Seattle. They arrived here in Lake Havasu on Saturday and were in service with us on Sunday during which time he brought a wonderful message. The past few days we have talked at length–about earlier days, about politics, about God, about the Bible, about God’s people, about computers and motor homes and travel and growing older and faith and promise and health and death. We’ve talked extensively of our children and have bragged about their accomplishments and have sorrowed over their struggles. We’ve eaten at fine restaurants, and ones not so fine, took the ferry to the California side of the lake, ate ice-cream cones in an ice cream parlor after we had already eaten a tasty meal, worked on the faltering Hammond organ in our church, (at least the men did) and shopped at Dillards (at least Pat and I did, and we didn’t spend a penny, and the men were bug-eyed and smiled pleasantly when we told them of our diligent restraint.)
Stop a minute and consider your friends. Need to call one? Send a card? Say a prayer? Buy a gift? Provide a check or a 20-dollar bill? Offer help? Drink a cup of tea with one? Take a meal to a friend’s house…for no reason…or for a great reason?
They’re great to have, those friends. 🙂