What friendships do you have that have endured time?

Are you Still friends with any of your friends from high school? How have they changed? 

My friendship with Adeline, Margo and Cookie goes back to elementary school days in the 1950’s.   

We all attended Warren Elementary School in Chicago. I remember looking out my door and seeing Adeline being dragged along by her Italian parents to school.  She had a great love for stars like Pat Boone and Elvis Presley.  Adeline openly shared her opinions on every topic under the sun, and she still does today.  I would walk over to her house to study geometry after school. The house was filled with the sound of opera and the aroma of some wonderful dish.  Realizing I ate bland food at home, Adeline’s   mother would save me a tasty dish of Mostaccioli or Lasagna, etc.  I often wished I was born in Italy, too.   Adeline was a strikingly beautiful woman who was part of the homecoming court as a freshman in high school.   Her parents were very strict and would not allow her to date.  She never married and took care of her parents until their death. But she had a wonderful career as a business teacher at Robert Morris College, took many trips to Italy and was a wonderful aunt to her extended family.

Margo moved to Chicago from West Virginia. She lived a block away from me in a town house where her divorced parents lived one upstairs and the other downstairs.  Margo had blond hair and dark skin. At the beach, she would get so dark that it was said, “If you get any darker, you’ll need police protection.” So sad to say, but racial profiling was big in the 60’s. After school, we would walk over to her dad’s auto repair shop and have a coke while we waited for her dad to drive us home. Being part of a bowling league, we often walked a block from the auto shop to see how many strikes and gutters we could get.

Cookie or Karlene had a warm and pleasant personality. She would ask very personal questions and would listen attentively. Her mother had a salon in her basement where we often played. Cookie and her mother would get into fights and sometimes a brush would go flying in the air. She smoked at an early age and would pretend she was a movie star like Irma la Deuce showing off her fancy cigarette holder. She was a very good student and much more outgoing and daring than I was. But she was conscious of her weight and had a friend pretend to be her on the phone. The friend asked a boy if he would go to the prom with her. He said, “Yes”, to the impersonator pretending to be her. We laughed until our ribs ached about that ruse.  Humor was a big part of our lives. Our job was to gather lots of jokes during the morning to share at lunch time. We would laugh so hard the milk would come out of our noses.  

Communication had been off and on throughout the years, while all three of us had full time jobs, children and now grandchildren. But now that we are all retired, we are reconnecting again. What’s great about having a long-term friendship is that we can once again share stories from our past and get each other’s different perspectives. Although we are now 75 years old, we can still enjoy prosperous lives. I think of the song, “Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flies the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” We have been there for both.   

What were my Grandparents like?

I was asked this question in my Storyworth gift for Christmas. I’m asked one question a week and at the end of the year, they put my answers in a book form.

What were your Grandparents Like 

I remember my grandparents on my dad’s side better than on my mom’s side. They would come and see us on their way to and from Naples, FL-their winter getaway. Grandpa Lauritz Gram was a friendly and interesting man who was born in Norway and came to the US through the St Lawrence Seaway. He settled in West Allis, Wisconsin. Grandpa worked for Allis Chalmer company. He loved baseball, fishing and keeping his mind alert by listening to Readers Digest on tape, and by saying the alphabet backwards. He was almost blind and had to tilt his head to see us. I wonder how he ever drove back and forth to FL with his trailer attacked. He lived until almost 98. We attributed it to the fact that he ate oatmeal every day.  

Grandma Emma Carter Gram was English/Scottish/Irish and was not as warm and friendly as Grandpa. I heard that when my dad had friends come over from college; she’d go to her room and pretend to be sick. When we had Sunday meals around the dining room table, Grandma wasn’t very happy to have anyone other than the family around our table. But my mom would often invite others for a lamb or pork roast dinner. I loved those times, because that’s when I learned the most about family history.  

Grandpa and Grandma would take over the master bedroom, and each night Grandpa would pour a glass of Mogen David Wine for the two of them. When Grandma Gram came down the stairs, he would whistle a tune and sing, “Here Comes the Bride.” He was devasted when she died at 89 years old.  

Ginger and I would entertain them with a dramatic show. We would dress up and do a lot of giggling.  Sometimes we’d sing an advertisement ditty. “Pamper, Pamper, new shampoo. Gentle as a lamb so right for you. Gentle as a Lamb (I’d say) Yes, Ma’am (responded Ginger) Pamper, Pamper, new shampoo. I would continue the show by standing on my head and doing a backbend and then walking over to a cup of water. I’d pick it up and pretend to drink and then put it back on the floor and continue to walk back and pull myself up.  I would get a resounding applause for that trick. 

In the summer, Grandpa and Grandma lived in Crivitz WI where I remember catching one fish.  But otherwise, we would see them in West Allis for special occasions like weddings and graduations.  

My mother, who was born in Valder’s WI, was the 12thchild in her family. She was raised by her older sisters and didn’t interact very much with her mother.  I remember Olean Berge as a quiet woman dressed in black and sitting on her rocker. I imagine she listened to my mother play the piano which was my mom’s fun activity along with playing the game,  ball and jacks.  

Grandpa Anton Berge was born about the time that Lincoln died in 1865.  He did the hard work of tilting the land for farming. I loved seeing the cows and calves, but I was scared to death of the bull.  There was a part of the barn that had old farming implements and a horse-driven sled.  I imagined what it must have been like to have Grandpa drive my mother and her brother to school in very bad weather. But my favorite activity was playing with the kittens: I would often take one home.                                                     

Uncle Oley and Aunt Dagney, and my cousins lived with Grandpa and Grandma.   Grandpa, also Norwegians, would call her “Yudy” which I found unusual since her name was Judy.  He would yell “behivity” to my three male cousins if they were misbehaving. He told me he worked as a cobbler when he was younger before becoming a farmer. He gave Ginger and me a silver dollar to keep as a remembrance of him.  He took care of the chickens and the bees and continued to drive until his death at 94.