As we age we like to remember the good times and the good people we have know.
Young people of today will probably never know what it is to be friends for a long time. I don’t mean just keeping up with old high school buddies, but staying friends with people whose families have known each other for years.
Back in 1935 two families knew each other in a small farming community in Northern California.
One man had a cow that got loose, and wandered over to a nearby property where the Hindu tied her up.
My Dad was too apprehensive to go and claim the cow, so he asked his neighbor Joe to go and retrieve it.
This is the kind of background story that remains floating in the past, enjoyed by all the descendants of these two families.
Joe’s son Bert was an only child and a classmate of mine in grade school. We both have bad memories of cruel nuns and indifferent priests who taught us our catechism .We had to leave our school to walk into town to the Farm hall where all community functions happened including our graduations from 8th grade.
Being an only child Bert got a new car when he was a teen, and I remember admiring the two- tone Ford Fairlane, as it zipped past my house.
We were not pals in high school, as I had been steered towards music classes and the college track. Bert was destined to be a farmer, so had Ag, Shop, and business math.
In due course, I went away to a different college, and Bert went to Fresno, a fate worse than death in my opinion. He so wanted to be a farmer and did take over his family property later.
After he married, he wanted to buy up some farm land on the main road. Secretly his own Dad went to the owner and asked him not to sell to Bert, as he was fearful that Bert should not be a success and had a good job in the local paper plant.
This backfired, as Bert went ahead and secretly started buying up small rental properties in the neighboring towns, and never telling his parents what he was about.
In honor of his Dad, he did save all the old farming machinery, and the pickup that he used.
When you have the room, and do not want to let go, everything is saved and collected for the next generation.
Now that Bert is retired, and a widower, he has to take care not to go overboard on his collecting hobby. So far he has all his family’s farm machinery, some of which is still usable, but his aim is to make a mini museum on his land. Technological improvements have made most of the farm tractors and combines used in small operations obsolete; some are not even recognizable as to function.
I got to know the family again after a family funeral, and since I was living and working in New York, when Bert’s wife and sister in law said that they were coming to visit in the Big Apple, I invited them to stay at my apartment for a week.
I considered them family as their brother was a friend of my younger brother before he died.
This trip back east was so memorable because we participated in the Halloween Parade in New York City of October 2001. We took in two plays, a jazz session in the Greenwich Village area, and then took off to see the sights of Vermont and the Upper Hudson.
For some reason this act of generosity was so impressive to all that they talked about it for years. I got a lot out of it too, as I would never have rented a car to drive up to Vermont by myself.
After I retired, and had to move around a bit, Bert and his wife set up a travel trailer in the yard for me to “camp out” in before the house was ready. They even strung in a line so I could have cable television.
Now that we are both pushing 80 years of age, we talk about all our family troubles, ailments and the state of local government. It is good to have a friend that understands your background, and can remember things that went on back in 1952.