It was serendipity.

A week ago today I visited with an old friend. While it is certainly not unusual to reconnect with seemingly long-lost friends on social media, or by happenstance, I must state that this telephone encounter was with a friend with whom I had not communicated since 1978! (Perhaps some of you were not even born then!)

Because there is always a back story

I have known people that have kept in touch with classmates from high school, roommates from college, even former coworkers; these were folks with shared experiences and their friendships endured through the years. I must admit I have often lamented that our group of six girls, once thick as thieves during the last two years of high school, never kept in touch through the decades. The six of us only gathered three times after high school. Sure, we promised to stand up in each other’s weddings, or name our firstborns after each other, (a feat not as difficult as it sounds because three of our group of six were named “Linda”), but we lost touch. What went wrong?

We had many good times those last two years of high school. Here is a picture of the six of us dressed up like the Roarin’ 20s for our Millionaires Party during senior year.

Back left to right: Diane P., Sheila H., Linda S., Linda W.
Front left to right: Linda V. and Rosemary G.

We had 613 students in our Lincoln Park High School Class of ’73. After the graduation ceremony at Cobo Hall, June 13, 1973, we hightailed it back to the high school in Sheila’s dad’s gold Montego with paint scrawls and scribbles proclaiming “free at last” and “Class of ’73” then we gathered with classmates one last time for the All Night Party.

As I recall, we hung out together that night, said goodbye the next morning, but then real life intervened that Summer. Suddenly we were thrust into the workforce: three of us quickly found permanent jobs and the remaining three would begin college in the Fall but had part-time jobs.

I think it was then that we began to lose touch.

The gathering – Christmas 1973.

Through the years
We all will be together
If the fates allow …
~ lyrics from “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

(Please click here to hear the song.) This song has always made me feel a little sad.

Of the six of us, Sheila was the only one who left home, when she began the pharmacy program at Ferris State in Big Rapids, Michigan. Sheila was homesick for family and friends. I used to get a phone call every Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m., (her time period to use the dorm phone), until she made friends and acclimated to campus life. Sheila was anxious to get together at the Christmas holidays while she was home on break, so we settled in for an evening at a venue where we had gathered so often in our high school years – Rosemary’s house. We quickly caught up with each other’s lives and exchanged Christmas presents while enjoying a little wine.

Left to right: Linda W., Diane P. and Sheila H.
Left to right: Diane P., Rose G., Linda S., Linda V.

Christmas passed and we got back to our respective lives and only got together at Rosemary’s wedding in January of 1976. We must’ve chatted it up at the reception, though I don’t really recall any meaningful conversation. Were there Christmas cards, birthday cards or phone calls? I simply don’t recall, but life was a blur for me as I was busy with college, working on the school newspaper, involved in student government and I worked weekends and all school breaks at the diner. In 1978, one of us reached out and thought to suggest a get-together, so we had a five-year reunion. A lot had transpired in our respective lives the past five years. Because we spent so many high school evenings going out for dinner and a show, we decided to recreate that pastime. But the evening fell short of duplicating those long-gone evenings, circa 1971-1973, because the movie theatre was crowded and we ended up sitting singly in different rows. We followed the movie up with dinner at a Chinese restaurant and called it a night rather early as I recall. Though we were inseparable at one time, the evening seemed stilted. That was the last time we would gather.

Liz, a legal secretary/friend that I used to run into at Starbucks from time to time, was a former neighbor of Sheila’s and one day she told me she had sad news: Liz had learned from her parents that Sheila and her husband Phil had both passed away from cancer, six months apart, in 2007. That’s was the only news I had heard about my friends. None appeared to be on Facebook. None of us went to class reunions. I ran into Diane a couple of years ago at the grocery store but she was preoccupied with her grandchildren, so the encounter was brief. She recognized me; I didn’t recognize her until she said “Hey Linda, do you remember me – Diane?”

And then this happened.

Reach out and touch someone

Years ago AT&T telephone company had a series of commercials about reaching out and touching someone on the telephone. Today, we FaceTime one another, or are immersed in an age of Zoom for hook-ups with family, friends and co-workers. Now, more and more people are giving up the landline phone to rely on their smartphones or VoIP (internet telephone). Me – well I’ve kept the landline as I use it for work, especially the speakerphone. I may like the landline, but NOT the ton of robo/spammy calls, sometimes up to 20 per day, despite having registered years ago on the Do Not Call Phone Spam List. They don’t ring a couple of times and stop, but instead, ring incessantly from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, but rarely on the weekends. The calls have gotten so annoying, that as I log onto my computer for work, I turn off the phone’s ringer and rely on the flashing red bar to alert me to an incoming call.

These junk calls range from out-of-town numbers from all states, to local calls with my own area code; yes, sneaky spammers have been doing that last trick for several years now. I don’t have an answering machine and I refuse to answer any of those calls. 

But then this one call piqued my interest.

Last Friday morning, I turned on the computer and simultaneously went to shut the phone ringer off. Just then a call came in. I glanced at the number, assuming it was my boss. The caller I.D. told me it was from Linda V. (I’ll eliminate Linda’s last name and of course her number for privacy purposes.) I did a double-take. It was a local prefix, and, for a split-second I wondered if I should pick up, but decided not to as I had a busy work day ahead, so I jotted down the number to do a little research later.

Because the internet knows WAY too much about all of us, a few minutes’ research, a half-dozen keystrokes and Google helped me learn that yes it was Linda and the phone number matched her former and current address and even gave her age.

That night, after dinner, I called the number and got an answering machine message. I took a deep breath and announced: “Hi Linda V – it’s Linda Schaub and I’m returning your call.” I babbled a little about just how many junk calls I get and never pick up any, but how her name/number piqued my interest.

A few minutes later Linda called me back, we had a little back and forth … after all, what do you say after 42 years? The initial “how ya doing?” was quickly dispensed with, then Linda announced she never called me – it was just a junk call and, unbelievably, Linda said she had received a spam call from her own home phone number in the past!

Well we spoke for four hours and Linda’s phone battery began to give out, just as my voice was similarly starting to crack a little from overuse. I don’t talk that much in a week and certainly not for four straight hours.

The takeaway … well, I learned that Linda V is a “dust-if-your-must” kinda gal, just like me. Of course I mentioned my blog, walking, plus meeting my walking goal one month early, then learned that Linda, recently retired from a career in nursing, had embarked on a walking regimen in August and also likes to walk in local parks. Who knows, maybe we even crossed paths and didn’t recognize one another?! I did forget to ask if she likes feeding the squirrels … that topic will be the next time we chat I guess.

I know that the year 2020 has brought a new normal and a host of weird and wacky events, the likes we’d never dreamed about, but I had to share this unbelievable tale of two telephones and two Lindas with you.

[Serendipity header image from Pinterest]

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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73 Responses to It was serendipity.

  1. That is an amazing reconnection! How marvelous you did the sleuthing and talked to Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I thought it was amazing too Anne … and most days I return from walking and just take a cursory glance at the calls that came in while I was out so I can clear them. But this call that arrived while I was right at the phone just “called to me” (pardon the pun). It is scary how much is out there on all of us … it took just a few minutes to know it was Linda, even though she didn’t place the call.

      Like

  2. Wow! What an amazing bit of serendipity, especially since your friend didn’t actually call you! I’m so glad you were able to reconnect after so many years. It will be very interesting to see where your friendship will take you from here. I reconnected with an old high school friend when she discovered my blog seven years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in 38 years and it turned out she was living in the same town as my daughter down in North Carolina. So now we see each other every time I go down to visit my daughter and she’s even come up to Connecticut once for a visit. Now we video call about once a month since nobody is traveling anywhere these days. I hope you will enjoy rekindling your friendship, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Barbara – I truly never gave it a second thought that the call might be spam. I get calls with people’s names, some with “XXX” for the name and number and some calls with nothing on the name line. That’s a great story that you were able to connect with an old friend too and what a coincidence that your friend lives near your daughter! I connected with a few friends from high school using Facebook – their names appeared when I signed up and had plugged in my hometown and high school name.

      But there was something quirky about that as well. We have had high school reunions every five years since graduation – some small get-togethers, others were large well-planned gatherings. I’ve not gone to any of the reunions. At one of the larger reunions they had a booklet made up with some info on classmates who had passed away. I ran into a mutual friend at the mall and had learned my high school friend Carol had passed away from cancer. Someone made a mistake about that info at the class reunion … the truth was Carol had cancer, recovered and lives in New York. The first day on Facebook I saw her name (she uses her maiden name but is married) as a suggested “friend” so imagine my shock. I guess I’m not the first person who joined Facebook and saw Carol’s name and was shocked. She could have paraphrased Mark Twain and said “”rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

      Like

      • I can only imagine the shock of finding out your friend was still alive when you and many others had heard she had died. Another thing I find disconcerting is when someone on Facebook dies their account remains there — sometimes I get notified that it’s a deceased friend or relative’s birthday and invited to write on their timeline as if they were still alive. Not sure how that could be fixed…

        Like

      • Linda Schaub says:

        You’re right Barbara – it was quite a shock and evidently the person who compiled the book for the reunion messed up. So everyone at the reunion thought she passed away. We have a Facebook site that is called “Lincoln Park High School Deaths” and I just went over to see how many of our 613 classmates had passed away to mention it to you and it is now a private group. Hmm. We had a large June ’73 class and there were about 130 in the January class of ’73. The list does delineate by class year, so it is easy to just scroll down and look. I also think that is a bad feature of Facebook – a good friend or relative’s birthday you will always remember, but seeing their picture, etc. is just a painful reminder they are gone. It seems like I read or heard that even a family member cannot cancel that account and some people like to return and visit the site after their loved one is gone.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ruthsoaper says:

    Wow Linda, what an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Margy says:

    What a wonderful story. Hope you two can stay connected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Dear Linda #1…………………………………what a nice story about your past friendships ……………….I enjoy always noticing how nice you looked “way-back-then”………………………………….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Ann Marie – I am glad you liked the story. What a surprise to make this connection after 42 years and the way it happened sure fits into the category of weird and wacky things that happened in 2020! Could you have picked me out in these photos, after you’ve seen other photos from “way-back-then” in earlier blog posts?

      Like

  6. That is so cool Linda! How great when you can reconnect with old friends. I got so fed up with the robo calls we got rid of our landline and never looked back! We don’t miss it or the cost at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, it sure was fun and a surprise Diane. These spam/robo calls are driving me up the wall. One or two rings would be bad enough, but a dozen times and the phone is near my computer so it is handy for work, so I had to shut the ringer off. When I’m retired I will likely cancel mine too – I don’t have a smartphone though, just a flip phone. They raised my bill $6.00 last month – I even called to ask if it was a mistake, but this month it was only raised $3.00. I even took long distance off as I can make long-distance or inter-zone calls on my cellphone if need be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They are losing so much money on the landlines because of the cell phones so the people that still have them get charged more, so unfair!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I agree! When I called AT&T, I had a really nice customer service rep and he suggested I bundle my internet/cable/phone together. I told him I cancelled my cable TV 10 years ago so I would just stick with my AT&T landline phone for now. Today I had about 15 calls. My friend suggested some may be calls for Medicare enrollment and/or Obamacare enrollment which ends tomorrow. I thought after the election there would be less, but no!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. this reminds me of the good old days when one could pick up a phone to phone a friend only to find they were phoning you at the exact time and both of you had picked the phone up at the same time!
    Syncraynictty!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well that’s a Christmas miracle!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rebecca says:

    A conversation that was meant to be. So neat to be able to reconnect with an old friend in such a way. Great story! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sandra J says:

    That is just such a cool thing that happened. It is so much fun to catch up with old friends. I loved seeing the old photos. I enjoy looking at the outfits and the décor also. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I thought so too Sandra. Yes, the clothing and decor was early 70s. The couple who live in this house now are very nice. I met them a few years ago. My regular route to the Park was under construction for 4-5 months and they gutted the entire street. So I walked down past Rose’ house every time I went to/from the Park. One Sunday the couple was out working in their yard – gorgeous yard with lots of flowers, yard art. I stopped and introduced myself, told them I had spent many hours there with my five friends and that it was our “gathering spot” years ago. They told me my friends parents divorced and they sold the house to them. I liked both her parents and was surprised to hear this. They gave me a tour of the yard and I made a slideshow of their front/backyard to send to them afterward, plus I sent these pictures of the six of us at Christmastime. I had another picture with Rose’ mom and sister which I did not include with this post. The clothing from the Roarin’ 20s was the Millionaires Party that was set up at the school – we paid to get in and we had casino gambling – it was to raise money for our All Night Party. Everyone came in costume to get in. I actually used that photo before for Halloween 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Joni says:

    What a nice experience Linda, and that you still had so much in common you could talk for 4 hours! Isn’t it funny the way you can do that with some people and not others. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a spam call from someone they knew, but I know the scammers can somehow use your area code so that you think it’s a local call and pick up! It’s a good thing you followed through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, we did talk nonstop and caught up with what had happened in our respective lives the last 42 years before we reminisced a little about the old days. I know you remember me mentioning Sheila before and her going to pharmacy school as you then told me that was your chosen career before you retired. The spam calls are horrible – they drive me up the wall. I was inside all day due to this all-day rain and I got two today but the spammers are not as bad on the weekend or holidays, so I leave the phone turned on, but weekdays it is bad. Usually I just give a cursory look at the phone number if I’m at the table (I see the red bar flashing) and I often don’t pay much attention when clearing out the caller I.D. log. So yes, a right-place/right-time event!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Nancy Ruegg says:

    How delightful to reconnect with an old friend and find yourselves recapturing the camaraderie of years ago. A feel-good story, Linda–thank you for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Laurie says:

    I love the title of your post, Linda S. – Serendipity – one of my favorite words. I am so glad you reconnected with your old friend the way you did. I would never have picked up the call either. I don’t answer any calls where I don’t recognize the number or if it seems fishy. You talked for 4 hours??? Wow! You must have had a lot to catch up on. My group of my closest friends from high school also included 6 people and now none of us are in touch either – not even on FB.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Laurie H. (I remember your last name as a lawyer friend of my boss has the same last name). I also love the word Serendipity and have only used it once before in my blog as it relates to my discovery of Council Point Park which I didn’t know existed until I heard there was going to be an event there and I went to see it. I must add it is only one mile from my house! I had been walking in the neighborhood before that. I never answer any of those calls and they sure are annoying. It gave me cause to pause. Yes, we spoke for four solid hours. Interesting you had a group of six friends too … we have had our similarities haven’t we? I suppose if there were cellphones and social media when we graduated from high school it would have been much easier to keep in touch. A friend of mine from high school now lives in New York. When I joined Facebook in 2009, her name popped up as a potential friend as we had the same hometown/high school. So we connected on FB. Her mother passed away suddenly three years later and when she returned to Lincoln Park the next day, I called to offer my condolences … we spoke from about 7:00 p.m. until after 1:00 p.m. and finally hung up … and that was after catching up on FB three years earlier. I am not a person who talks on the phone either. I don’t talk to my boss every day – we usually e-mail one another.

      Like

  14. If she lives close to you, it would be nice to go walking together! It’s much easier to ride out awkward silences with an old if you’re doing something together.
    I have friends too where we have lost touch over the years. It makes me sad to think how we were so determined to keep in touch, and then life happens. People love on and get busy with their lives. Other friends I’m happy to have lost touch with. You know there are some people who are just not good for you.
    Your posts, this one and others, set up a nice background before you go into your story; helpful to understand the context of your story!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, my long-lost friend lives in the next City from me, so close by. A walk would be good since we both enjoy walking and she suggested it and I said that would be nice in warmer weather. I don’t plan anything in Winter unless it is the same day or next day and I know it will not snow or be icy, so that was my reasoning for delaying a get-together, plus COVID as well. I’m not going anywhere this Winter. I continue to walk at my regular Park, but it is just a mile away from home, so just walk the roundtrip and there.

      You are younger than me, so I am surprised you did not keep in touch with one another by cellphone or social media. See, we had none of that good stuff back then, so it might have made a difference. After high school, I got involved in a lot of activities at the community college I attended before going to a four-year university to complete my B.A. So, we had a great group who worked on the college newspaper and we became good friends those few years. We stayed in the newspaper office between classes, hung out together on weekends and went to concerts and did things together when we were on school break. The same thing happened there – very tight-knit group of 10 of us and we all left to go to other colleges and NEVER kept in touch. That kind of blew my mind too and in that instance, we never even had a “reunion” at all. But again, that was the mid-70s and no cell/social media to keep in touch.
      Thank you Esther – I figure that for some posts, that are stories, especially human-interest stories, they usually have a backstory, so that worked well, but it made for a lengthy post too!

      Like

  15. bekitschig says:

    It’s funny how we think we will always be in touch with our old friends … Sometimes life just gets in the was, even if we live in the same city …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, all those unspoken plans to stay in touch don’t always happen. You are younger, so you would stay in touch with friends via social media and even then, as you say, life gets in the way and all good intentions are thrown to the wind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bekitschig says:

        I absolutely don’t like Facebook so I’m not the greatest with keeping in touch. Having coffee right now is not an option and people don’t really talk on the phone all that much anymore. It’s gonna be interesting what will hold society together in a few decades …

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I may be on Facebook, but it is more for the news, weather and various parks and nature sites I follow. Same for Twitter. I follow a photographer on Twitter who goes to a big park every day and takes seeds and bird treats and birds come and perch on her hand to eat and she takes videos. I always watch her videos which she shoots from her iPhone and posts them in slow motion. That is relaxing in a crazy world. I only have a few Facebook friends I interact with, but not that much. I am only going to do two blog posts a week starting January. I can’t keep up in Reader anymore. Next time you’re on Twitter check this out https://twitter.com/JocAPhotography/status/1339610740349673479

        Liked by 1 person

      • bekitschig says:

        Thanks Linda, will do!
        Posting twice sounds like a good idea. It is hard to keep up with everybody if you still create content and have a life 😉 But I’m sure most people understand!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I think bloggers have a better understanding than others would. Plus keeping up with a few friends on e-mail as well. Yes, twice for now – I just don’t seem to get anything else but blogging done anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Pam Lazos says:

    I love when that kind of stuff happens, Linda. How fortuitous! And maybe you will have a walking partner. ;0)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Prior... says:

    great story and post – and one that plaid jacket of yours in the old photos

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Holidays Table Settings & New Puppy (Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge, 12/24/2020) – priorhouse blog

  19. Prior... says:

    and Linda, I like so many of your little quotes and one-liners – so today I included one of them in my Xmas post (hope it is cool)

    Liked by 1 person

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