Sunday, November 4, 2012


My year book picture 1961
A few months ago while rummaging through some boxes labeled "Pam's mementos",  I came across a tattered address book that dated back to my life in the 1960s and 70s, when I was marrying my first husband,  moving out West for graduate school,  making new friends in California and staying in touch with old ones in New England.

My bridal attendants in 1963

Flipping through the dog-eared pages and reading the faded names I had written in pencil brought back warm memories of a very different life I once lived.   One name jumped out at me from the page.  It was a guy named Russ whom I'd been friends with more than fifty years ago, but after my divorce in the early 80s, we completely lost touch.  He had been a high school buddy of my ex-husband,  and I guess I figured he would take sides after we split up.   I began to think about all the fun times we'd had as teenagers in the 60s,  and suddenly I found myself missing him and the times back then when we were both goof offs trying to act grown up.   He worked construction in the summer and skied his ass off on Canon Mountain in the winter. 

Dayton's photo of White Mountains of New Hampshire
With nostalgia welling up inside me and feeling homesick for a life long past, I decided to see if I could locate Russ on Facebook.  My search was daunting.  There were so many people who had his same name.  Eventually I found his smiling face, and although he didn't have the same hair line I remembered, I was pretty sure it was him.  I took a leap of faith, clicked the "Friend" button and waited to see what would happen.   In a couple of hours he friended me back, astonished as much as I was to reconnect after all this time.  He was still married to wife number one and skiing like a mad man in the winter.  He would post status reports on Facebook from time to time, and people would make comments but not from anyone I knew.  Then someone with an unusual name I recognized made a comment.  I was pretty sure Dayton was the same fellow from the small mill town where my ex-husband grew up, and although I barely knew him back then, I sent a private message on Facebook that said, "Hey, do you remember me?"  The answer I got back was "Heck, yes," and that brief exchange was how I began to reconnect with my youth and my friends from my New Hampshire past.  

I'm the fourth from the left and Cynthia is second from the right
Dayton was living on Partridge Lake where I used to swim and waterski as a kid.  He had hiked all the White Mountain peaks and posted photos on Facebook of the Presidential Range.   He sent me the email address of a girl I used to pal around with, and soon Cynthia and I were emailing about life since junior high.   I was surprised I could still remember her parents' first names -- Percy and Edna.  Percy owned a brush handle factory just up the road from Perkins Motel where I lived.  In a two-hour phone call, Cynthia told me how she fell in love with one of her high school teachers, and after raising a bunch of kids, went back to college and now loves history and genealogy.  

Janet's yearbook photo 1961
 Cynthia reconnected me with Janet who had been my best friend from eighth grade all the way through high school and college.  We were inseparable.  An early memory that stays in my head is of the two of us lying on her bed listening to Marty Robbins sing  A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation and talking about boys in our class we had crushes on.   I'll never forget eating peanut butter and Velveeta cheese sandwiches and reading the juicy parts of  "Peyton Place" out loud to each other.   She talked me through a doomed relationship and helped me recover when I found out he was engaged to someone else.   I wiped her tears when a boy she always hoped to marry broke up with her.   She was a bridesmaid in my wedding.   Sadly,  we didn't see much of each other after that.  

 How do best friends lose touch with each other?  After I got married and I moved far away, she got married and moved away too, so we were no longer living in the same town.    Maybe we became so absorbed in our new lives that we forgot to look back.  Or maybe after we married, we made new couple friends and our old classmates got lost in transition and were left behind.     It seems to me that it wasn't easy to maintain long distance relationships back then.  We didn't have email or Facebook,  and the only phone calls we could afford were the obligatory calls to our parents.    I guess it really doesn't matter why we lost touch.  What really matters is that we have reconnected again.  

 I have read Janet's recent email three or four times and each read takes me back to a different time in my teens.    It is 1959.  She is trying to convince her older brother into driving us to Forest Lake Casino, a somewhat trashy dance hall where there was more drinking and making out in the backseat of cars than dancing under the stars.  "Bucky, please take us with you," she pleads,  but he had no interest in chauffeuring his little sister or her best friend even though he and I were flirting like crazy.  

In Janet's email she painstakingly detailed aspects of her life for the last fifty years -- a life different from mine but yet there are many similarities.  Like me she became single but not by choice.  She has children.  I have none.  We each struggled living by ourselves, but both found the love of our lives as a result.  She too has traveled the world and sees more adventure in her future as long as she is physically able.   Like me she is proud of her successful career and her ability to be financially independent.  Her love of reading fiction probably means she enjoys the same novels I do.    

The emotions that all of these memories have aroused in me underscores how important my childhood friends still are, and that I have strong bonds with them even though we haven't seen each other in more than fifty years.   For someone who never had children, I cherish and love my friends who are as precious to me as my family.  


  1. How wonderful! I, too, have lost touch with most of my best friends from school. I'm Facebook friends with a few, but it's not really the same as having a real ongoing relationship. I hope you and your friends take the time to maintain connections now that you have them again.

    1. Thanks, Sharry. THey are 3000 miles away so catching up over coffee will take some work, but it's worth the effort.