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Write Again … We made memories

When I read my special friend Harold’s reminiscences, which he writes about so well, I truly understand how he feels.

Although he and I are separated in age by about one-half a generation, I knew/know almost all of those about whom Harold writes so lovingly.

His childhood friends — many still his closest — I knew through teaching, coaching, in recreation, or through church. To me, they will also hold a special place in my heart. Some I count even today as good friends, although like just about all other generations, many have traveled roads away from home through the years. Especially some of the girls. That’s just how it is, with just about each generation.

The same is true for the friends, classmates, teammates of my time, of that great gift of youth. Oh, my. How fleeting those days seem now.

My time here on this planet began in the early days of the last year of the1930s. Which meant my memories of childhood and teen years are rooted in the ’40s and ’50s.

No, I won’t regale you with accounts of the many memories I hold — some of which are of such an indelible nature — and treasure. Much as I’m sure most of you treasure your special memories. As they say, “The past is never past.”

Well. Please indulge me just one such memory. It was in the early ’50s, took place in Washington Park, and was one of the most enjoyable things we ever did. Camping out. Oh, yes. In those days the Park still had some undeveloped areas, and we could sleep in a copse of pine trees not easily seen or “discovered” by most of our elders.

Often, however, such camp-out nights began with time spent at Jesse Buck’s store — a real country store — situated at the eastern edge of the Park.

We would congregate there, partake of some “health” foods, and simply enjoy just being. Jesse always made us feel welcome, even though our expenditures certainly didn’t greatly increase his coffers. He, Mrs. Buck, and their two children, lived in the rear portion of the store. They were quite simply, good people. To say we loved being there, and loved them, is an understatement. When we would take leave of the premises, we would then head to our secret site, and settle in for sleep. Eventually.

No telling of this connotes much that on the surface seems really special. We probably never thought that we were making lifelong memories. Or that not so very far into the future of each of us, we would look back upon those days (and nights) with a longing and wistfulness not easily explained. And yes, with genuine love for those with whom these memories were made.

Perhaps you note that I haven’t mentioned names of those lads who make up my memories. You see, some are here no longer, and when I think of them I can easily become emotional. While I understand that such “departures” from this life are the natural order of things, nonetheless I struggle with it. It makes me sad.

Perhaps, just as important, it makes me grateful that I had such friends in that time of my life. A bittersweet emotion, in a way.

So. Thank you for indulging me this bit of written remembering. Most surely each of you has special memories of parts of your growing up years. I truly hope so.

Maybe, just maybe, in some far land across the river, we’ll find that the circle really is unbroken.

May it be so.

APROPOS — “Count where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was, I had such friends.”

— Yeates