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.
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.
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]