I have also had the pleasure of connecting with Erin from my grade school years. We were friends from Kindergarten through high school and then lost touch for four decades. After all those years, we discovered we were living in close proximity of each other - 3,000 miles from where we grew up. Every year since then, we have spent a girls' getaway weekend together to play catch-up.
The first time we saw each other after forty years it was as if time stood still and we were girls again. Erin shared a story with me that she recalled from the 1950s and I want to retell that story here in her words. This is how she remembers me when I was a little girl (She still calls me Carol Jean).
Only the tapping of metal on wood broke the uncomfortable silence in Randall's Grocery Store. I could feel the tension rise and was deeply concerned for my friend, Carol Jean.
It was 1953. She was seven and I was nine. We had gone with a group of friends to the corner store to get our penny candies, a regular Saturday afternoon ritual. This particular Saturday would make an impact on me that lasted fifty years.
Carol Jean watched the obese Mr.Randall reach into the candy bin, pick up the assortment and place them into the hands of each anxious child. The candies often began to melt before we finished them.
Carol Jean looked at her hands that were dirty from playing outside. She was barely tall enough to see over the wooden counter but she stretched above her head and placed her nickel on the top.
"A bag please."
The big man dug into the bin, picked out the candies and reached over to place them in her hand.
"I would like a bag please."
He might have smiled at her persistence but the irritated frown he wore took its place. Carol Jean grabbed back the nickel before he could take it and began tapping it on the counter. With her left hand on her hip she tapped her right foot in sync. The rest of us stopped chewing and stared in disbelief.
How could anyone so frail, so slight and so young stand fearless before such an enormous man? She had focus and determination. It was as if she knew the first rule of salesmanship: State your position, hold firm and shut up. No negotiation. No apology. Just silence.
We were afraid of him. He was obnoxious and dirty and always impatient with us. If it weren't for the candy we would never have gone inside. But, there she stood making bold demands and not backing down.
We were shocked as Mr. Randall glared at Carol Jean, grunted and sighed, then reached under the counter and got a small paper bag. He had met his match.
"Thank you," she smiled as she turned and walked out having no idea what kind of impression her act of defiance had made on me.
By the time we were young women, we had grown apart, both geographically and as friends but I never forgot her. I thought of her often and wondered what had happened to her.
Forty plus years later, she surprised me with a phone call. We arranged to meet and upon seeing each other, bonded instantly.
As she shared story after story of the experiences of her life, I saw the same tenacity, strength, fearlessness and sales ability she had shown that Saturday afternoon in 1953. She hadn't changed. I was glad.
Have you ever reconnected with a friend after many years?