- Special Sections
- Public Notices
I think it’s good to reconnect. For many years I had pretty much lost contact with friends from high school which was sad since we had been a very tight knit group of gals. Some of us were majorettes; some played in the band; some were cheerleaders. Others, like me (who had failed miserably at playing the French horn) were just in the stands for every ball game and at Dog n Suds afterwards, packed into whatever family automobile available that night. Then we scattered and it was many years before we began to get together.
My family moved back to Kentucky from Marianna, Fla., right after my graduation from high school. It was the tradition that graduating seniors left for the beach at Panama City the next day and I got to be with my pals for two whole days before being picked up and driven to our family’s hometown in Grant County. I think I cried most of the 600-mile trip, dramatically informing my parents frequently that my life was ruined, that my life as I had known it was over, that I did not want to go to UK. I wanted to attend Chipola Junior College, a lovely school right there in Marianna. It’s where almost all of my friends went before transferring to Florida State or University of Florida.
After UK, I was off to Baltimore to teach school. On occasion I returned to Marianna to visit family friends but most of my buddies had moved on. It took the death of our lovely Sylvia to bring us back together. That was in 1998, and we came together to mourn her passing and lament our lack of contact over the years. Since then at least some of us have gotten together once a year, most often at the Panama City Beach home of Janet and her husband Juddy, to talk over old times, catch up on marital status, children, grandchildren, and in my case, pets or nieces and nephews. Of our old crowd, Janet and Juddy have been the most steadfast, becoming sweethearts in the seventh grade and marrying after college graduation. Four children and several grandchildren later, they are still a devoted couple and the George Burns-Gracie Allen of this era.
They came to see me in Kentucky this year and I went down to the beach in October. I stayed at a motel, but we were together every day. Some of the other gals came from wherever they have settled and the friendships continue. Some of us are of the Republican persuasion; others follow the Democratic philosophy, but we are able to have civil discussions, laugh over our differences, and talk about how we got to where we are today. There is no rancor or name calling, just sadness that so much of the media seems to foster ill will among folks of different political affiliations. Whatever our affiliation we are all happy about Social Security and Medicare.
My friends were very proud of a trick they played on me this trip. My first Friday evening there, Juddy announced we were going to dinner at Navarre, about an hour away. “This guy is a Greek chef and he has this big boat and takes ten people out at a time and serves dinner out in the Gulf.
It sounded plausible to me. Juddy is a businessman who knows lots of people. So off we went. “We have to be there by five o’clock,” he said.
Hwy. 98 along the Gulf is pretty busy on a Friday night and we were nowhere near Navarre at 4:55 p.m. I was worried. “Should we call and tell these people we will be late?”
“No, it’ll be okay. He serves drinks from 5 to 6 and then the boat leaves.”
At 5:30, Juddy pulled into a neighborhood of large homes on the Santa Rosa Bay. I was puzzled. “This doesn’t look like a place to get on a boat to me.”
“He keeps it tied up behind the house,” Juddy answered as he stopped at one particularly fine place. He was knocking on the door while I was asking Janet where the other cars were. Before I could get an answer we were being waved in and there in the doorway stood one of the boys from our class. (They will always be boys to me.) But this wasn’t just any boy. This was my date to the Prom, the sophomore-senior picnic, and the occasional drive-in movie. No boat, no Greek chef. Just Robert. He did have two boats hoisted up at the end of his pier out back, but we weren’t eating on either of them.
Robert ushered me right in and before I could even meet his wife showed me the picture of us together at the prom those long years ago. I must say the years had been good to him. He has not gained weight, still has his hair, and seems to have done very well in electronics. He also has a lovely wife he met at Chipola (of course) and has been with ever since.
My friends were very pleased with themselves, delighted that I had been so thoroughly fooled. “Well, Jarrett,” Janet asked on the way home,” What do you think about that?”
“I think I let a good one get away,” was all I could say.
Janet has read some of these occasional columns I write and said to me before I left, “ I think you should write about reconnecting, how important it is to get together with old friends, to share and remember how it was before we started getting broader in the beam, going a bit deaf, getting a little bald.” It’s a time to remember those teachers who were so special to us, a time to remember the glory days (as Springsteen says), even a time to straighten out old disputes, but most of all a time to revel in friendship.
During this season of giving thanks, I want to say that I am especially grateful for friends, old and new, and the times we have together.
Jarrett Boyd is a resident of Carrollton and the retired director of Carroll County Public Library.