In a recent article I referred to the speculation that the only memories we retained were those frequently visited while those rarely ever recalled will fade into infinity from the lack of use. I wish to take issue with that speculation because of the resurfacing of a memory from back in 1932.
In that year I was 21 and had bought my first brand new car—a 1932 Ford four door sedan—paid $600 for that sucker and paid it out at $20 per month. In that car I courted the girl who became my first wife Audre Lee (Snookie) Hallmark, and along with that memory came the words to a song that I sang to her during that courtship. I remember every word of that song but have forgotten the title and even Google on internet had no record of this song and could not help me.
All of the above happened back in the 1930’s but I heard a song the other night that started me remembering friends that once were very dear to me.
The song was “The Way We Were” and sung in such a soft and tender manner that it could cause a lump in the throat of those “tender at heart” when reminiscing about old friends and “the way we were” in years long past.
I remembered Jim Bob Pool, a friend through most of grade school and all of high school and the friendship that lasted through many years of separation with only occasional visits to recall our school day adventures. It was with Jim Bob and old friend Shagnasty that I so often sparred with while never striking a blow - we always ended our quarrels by going swimming in our favorite hole in Brady Creek then going to the wagon yard to have a soda pop when Papa was not looking. Jim Bob is long gone but Shagnasty still hangs around to give me his long winded views on all sorts of subjects.
An interesting sidelight on my Jim Bob Pool friendship is as follows:
My son, who did not have the privilege of knowing Jim Bob, had a job that called for frequent air travel. He was telling me that on one flight he encountered a group of older women who were on a trip to the off-shore islands to have fun and spend money that their dead husbands had left them.
One of the ladies upon learning my son’s last name said that she and her husband had known a Bill Bodenhamer who lived in Brady during his youth. In telling this story to me my son said, “It’s remarkable isn’t it that even high up in the sky we find out just how small our world really is.”
Rambling on with these recollections of old friends I was reminded of a photograph given to me by Peggy Martin (who had moved from Mason to Brady where we played a lot of bridge together). This photograph perhaps dated back to the late 1940’s. There were twelve people in that picture and as I gazed into their faces I recalled the night it was taken and many of he good times we had together in those long ago days.
Four couples from this group who lived in Mason had come to San Antonio for a night on the town and had invited Perly and Lois Samuelson and Snookie and me to celebrate with them. The referenced picture was taken in a night club on Josephine St. and displayed the Coke bottles we bought for chasers but not our liquor bottles, these were either hidden in our coat pockets or on the floor in paper sacks.
Pictured and from Mason were Bill and Martha Jordan, Billy and Peggy Martin, my brother, J.G. and his wife Mary Lee. Also from Mason was Dick and Mary Fay White - these were the two friends who accompanied Snookie and me on the trip to Kentucky that I reported in an article entitled “Two Eggs Over Easy” and from San Antonio were Perly and Lois Samuelson and Snookie and me.
The sad part of this story is that of the twelve persons in this picture I am the only one still living and thus all that I have left is the memory of the happiness and good times we friends shared together.
Another Mason friend and one not included in the above group was Bernice Lehmberg who went to John Tarleton College with Mary Fay Banks and Snookie. Following those college years Snookie and I visited quite often with Mary Fay and her first husband Dick White and on several occasions we visited with Bernice at her father’s ranch.
On our first visit we met Bernice’s parents, her twin brothers Ray and Roy and an older brother by the name of Waldon. On our second and final visit we enjoyed spending the night on the banks of the Llano river and eating the wonderful food Bernice’s mother prepared for us.
While in the 72 years that have passed since those visits I never saw those brothers again I carried the memory of them in that old scrap book of memories I carry around in my mind.
Recently through the magic of the internet my neice Sharyl Mcglathey introduced me to Laura Austin an old friend of hers who turned out to be a daughter of Waldon Lehmberg. Thus it is that after all those years I have become a sort of e-mail acquaintance with a neice of my old friend Berneice Lehmberg.
The last time that I saw Berneice and Mary Fay was at Snookie’s funeral in 1968. I have since learned that they as well as Waldon have passed on but that the twin brothers Ray and Roy who are now 84 years old are still hanging in there. It is doubtful however that either of them remember my visits with their family.
Thinking back to the photograph of those twelve people and listening to the words of “The Way We Were” memories of the fellowship and fun we old friends had shared would surely tug at the heart strings of anyone.
At my age one is due to wonder just why the man up stairs has granted me these long years - why - and for what purpose? Could it be that the reward for the longevity thus granted can be found in this phrase from another old song: “somewhere in my dark and miserable past I must have done something good?”
Lacking an answer to those questions I am left with only my memories of those dear friends and the fellowships we shared. All are gone now with the exception of two old friends who graduated from high school with me in the year 1930.
Still with me however is my second wife Alma. She is planning on beating me to that 100th birthday and she will no doubt do it for she is the oldest by a margin of 27 days.
Received the following e-mail from a cousin regarding last week’s column:
Bill, my stepmother to the day she died HATED, ablsolutely hated, orange juice, orange popsicles, the color orange - anything to do with oranges. That’s because her mother used to mix her dose of castor oil in with orange juice. Shame - orange juice was a real luxury in the midwest back in those days.