Reprinted with permission
Best friends come and go, so a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years is something to brag about. My longtime friend, Marilyn Herold of Longview and I celebrated her birthday and our friendship recently with lunch at Woodland’s Lewis River Golf Course.
Whenever we get together, we reminisce about our childhood days. I moved into her neighborhood in Longview when I was nearly nine, the summer before fourth grade. I was shy, and even though I wanted to meet the tall, pretty girl on the other side of my backyard fence, I was afraid.
One day when Marilyn was playing outside, my mother walked me to the fence. I hung my head as we approached, and mom urged me on and then introduced me to Marilyn. Marilyn was 10, one grade ahead of me and as outgoing as I was shy. She invited me to play “store” with her. Mom helped me climb the picket fence, where empty soup and vegetable cans neatly lined a wooden shelf in Marilyn’s make-believe market. That’s the day we became best friends.
At lunch recently, with the beautiful Lewis River flowing by, we talked about the memories that our friendship is made of. We were always looking for a way to make money. We sold lemonade and comic books from a small table in Marilyn’s yard.
Couponing was our favorite moneymaker. At that time, grocery stores would allow you to exchange cents-off coupons for cash, whether or not you bought the product. We would look through the magazines in the grocery store until we found one that had coupons exceeding the cost of the magazine. One day, we found a 15-cent magazine with 35 cents worth of coupons. We bought the magazine, clipped the coupons, returned to the store and cashed them in. We bought another magazine with the proceeds, and repeated the process again and again.
At lunch, Marilyn asked, “Do you remember when we used to coax dogs with tags to follow us home so we could get a reward?”
I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine stooping so low just to make a few bucks.
“No,” I said, “I don’t remember ever doing anything like that!”
But, as the days went on, the memory returned. I remembered that the first dog really was lost. We called the owners. They were happy to get their dog back, so they gave us a few dollars. That gave us an idea, so we coaxed a couple of other dogs to follow us home Although we were thanked by their owners, there was no reward, so we gave up that venture.
Other times, we went through the neighborhood with a wagon and knocked on doors, asking if anyone had bottles they didn’t want. There was a deposit on soda and beer bottles, so we loaded our wagon with bottles and hauled them to the store to trade them for cash.
In the summer, our parents bought seeds for us and we grew vegetables. Then we sold the vegetables back to our parents. In the fall, we made Christmas cards. The longer we practiced our business ventures, the less shy I became.
Whenever one of us went outside, we called to the other, with a loud “Eee-Ah-Kee,” a call we had heard on the show “Lassie.” I was always disappointed if I hollered out the friendship call and there was no reply.
We talked on the telephone a lot, too. Marilyn and I thought we were the luckiest girls in the world because our families shared a party line. When she talked with friends on her phone, I was able to join in by picking up the phone at my house.
In the spring, we brought home free baby chicks from the feed store, even though my mother warned us not to. We raised rabbits in both back yards, and pollywogs in a jar on top of our oil stove. A washtub in my back yard held salamanders that Marilyn and I caught in the nearby slough. We often walked to the slough with a gallon jar to get the nasty green water that we knew our salamanders liked. We each had a dog, and we entered them in neighborhood dog shows, beaming with pride as they sat, rolled over, and barked on command.
We have so any great memories of our years together. Now, we both watch our grandchildren as they choose friends, and we hope they, too, can find life-long best friends.