I met Georgene, aka Ginger, over 60 years ago when we both lived in the small town of Cook, Minn., where my father worked as a barber.
She lived just a short way down the gravel street and many jaunts were made to and from each other’s houses where we played with dolls, board games, ran down the road to wave to the engineer as the train passed by, went hunting for frogs, or played school like many little girls do. But some of the activities we did when 5, 6 and 7 years old can probably not be claimed by other little girls back then, or even today.
When I found Ginger on Facebook about five years ago, I read her post: “When very young, my friend and I used to steal flowers from gardens and sell them to little old ladies. Mrs. Hendy caught us and told our parents, who sent us back to apologize to her. In return for the apology, she gave us each a big bouquet of lilacs, which made our parents call her again to be sure we didn’t help ourselves on our way out.”
Ginger was referring to me! I was her accomplice. I laughed so hard after reading her post, and remembered that Mrs. Hendy also had us sing Jesus Loves Me while she played the piano.
The post brought back many other memories of the adventures we did together which I shared with Ginger. Take note, we were anywhere from 5 to 7 years old when these ventures took place.
In the mid-1950s we walked downtown to Ranta’s Red Owl where we charged groceries as a surprise for our mothers. Using the child-size grocery cart, the only items I remember buying were marshmallows and Aunt Jemima’s syrup.
Our mothers took turns driving us to dance lessons every week under the direction of Ida Canossa, the head instructor of the Dainty Miss Dance Program in Virginia, about 25 miles south of Cook. Rather than having to purchase expensive costumes as done today, all the mothers made costumes for their dancing daughters. It was during this time that Ginger called me to ask me to come over and see her new ballet toe shoes. Jealous that I didn’t have any, I went to her house to find her white leather ballet slippers had a red checker stuck in each toe.
Reminding my dear friend recently of her antics, she replied, “I was a ballerina wanna-be!”
But probably the biggest (and scariest for our parents) adventure we did together was to hitchhike to the beach on Lake Vermillion about 10 miles from Cook. I have to admit it was my idea, as my brother, who is six years older than I, had hitchhiked many times. So why couldn’t we?
Thinking that we missed the bus to take us to the beach, I suggested that we hitchhike on the warm summer day. I can’t recall how many hours we spent sticking our little thumbs up in the air, but many cars passed us by before an elderly gentleman driving a faded green Ford stopped to pick us up. Wearing a fedora hat and rimless glasses, he asked us if our mothers knew where we were. Answering that they did (but didn’t), the man dropped us off a short way from the beach.
Word got back to our mothers that we were seen along the road, and just when Ginger and I finally saw the beach a short distance away, I turned around to see our car racing down the road with a cloud of dust behind. Pulling up to us, my mother opened the car window and said sternly, “Get in!”
While in the third-grade, my family moved to Babbitt, 50 miles east of Cook. Ginger and I exchanged letters for several years, which always started with the familiar phrase, “How are you? I am fine . . .”
I cut the cake at her wedding, and a couple of years later, she came to my (first) wedding. That was 45 years ago and that is the last time we’ve seen each other, but with photos on Facebook, we’re able to see pictures of each other and our families. Now living only 2 ½ hours apart, we agree that we have to get together. It will be a great time to reminisce, talk about grandkids, how parenting has changed through the years, our senior moments, compare our aging lines . . .