Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Memories Between the Bookends

I have been "away" for a while. The last few months I didn't feel much like writing. It is not that I had nothing to say, I just couldn't bring myself to write. You see, I have lost special people in my life. You might remember that last September I kept a promise to my mother-in-law, Bertha (Bertie) Helfand by sharing the history of her father, Jacob Meisler. Sadly Bertie passed away on December 16, 2011. She had turned 99 on October 28th. Then on February 17, 2012, my Auntie Agnes passed away, just about one month shy of her 94th birthday. Auntie was my Mother's twin sister. It seems many of my friends are going through the same sadness - the loss of a really wonderful generation, all in their late eighties and early today I thought I would write about reconnecting with old friends and sharing memories.

Do you remember the 1968 Simon and Garfunkel album Bookends? The songs from the first side of the album explore a life journey from childhood to old age. The album opens with the Bookends Theme.
Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you
I thought of this album today because yesterday my childhood neighbor and playmate found me on the internet. She found my blog and sent me an email. Turns out she has been trying to find me for years and the truth is I have looked for her many times over the years. Last night we talked to each other for the first time in probably 45 years.

Her name is Peggy. We lived on the same street from 1956 till the end of 1960. We played together everyday. Her parents were 10 years younger than my parents and her mother, Doris, really was just like June Cleaver. Peggy has a brother named Jackie. He, too, was part of our play group. We played in the canyon, thinking nothing of wading into a strange looking pond or digging into a side of hill. We played in the street - hide and seek and kick the can. We played in my father's 1949 Cadillac mourning car. We made mud pies and Peggy swears that we once made a "mud pie" that resembled "dog poop" and placed it on her parents' manicured front lawn just to tease her dad, Jack. Peggy's parents loved to go to the beach. I often went with them, as they had a boat and loved to water ski. (I watched.) We shared holidays - I remember their Christmas tree was always picture perfect...right out of a magazine. Peggy remembers listening to my sisters and me play/practice the piano. She still loves Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and remembers watching my sister Agnes play it. We didn't go to the same school. We went to parochial school and Peggy and Jackie went to public school. But I do remember looking forward to the afternoons and early evenings as play time with Peggy.  In late 1960 my parents decided they needed to find a larger home so we moved away from Alpha Street. It was a very sad time...leaving Peggy, Jackie and Mr. and Mrs. Alford. I know now it was just as sad for them. We stayed in touch visiting each other. Eventually they moved, too; however, our parents made an effort for us to continue to spend time together. I remember spending weekends with the Alfords at their new home in El was wonderful. And then slowly, we lost track of each other.

Getting back to Bookends...there is another song At the Zoo.
Someone told me
It's all happening at the zoo.
I do believe it,
I do believe it's true.
It is true...many times Peggy and I, along with our siblings, went to the San Diego Zoo. It is a wonderful zoo...a place to play, to learn and make memories. I hope you will enjoy this little photo album of some of those trips.

Finally, I want to share a video of Simon and Garfunkel singing Old Friends

So here's to my Old Friend, Peggy. We are now both in are 60's. We have been apart for 50 years. We went to college, we married, we raised our children, Peggy became an artist. Strangely enough, from 1997 until March 2008, we lived only 10 miles apart. I'm hoping Peggy and I will be able to meet again in person before we are 70!
Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?        
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Peggy and Judy -Circa 2012
I would love to hear about your memories between the bookends.

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