I made a call yesterday to a friend I haven’t talked to in 50 years, We didn’t say anything impostant, but it kind of rewove a thread in my life fabric (a little poetry there, I’m sorry) and it made me feel so good that I smiled about it for hours.
The whole thing started when I was going through old photos and I found a slightly mildewed ribbon holding pins from my Girl Scout days: a Brownie pin, a Mariner pin, a World Friendship pin, and a Senior Roundup pin, along with membership year pins adding up to more than 30 years with the organization. Lots of good memories, one of which was a girl named Celeste, and a cake that said Auf Wiedersehen when it should have said Arrivederci! (more about this in some other post)
I only knew Celeste because of Girl Scouts. She lived on one coast, I on the other, and the chances of our meeting were, to say the least, very small. But for one week in 1959, we came together, along with about 10,000 other Girl Scouts from around the world at a gathering in Colorado Springs. They called it Senior Roundup, and it brought girls from every state and quite a few different countries to share tents and outdoor showers, open-fire cooked food and uncomfortable sleeping bags–altogether a wonderful experience.
Our families saved pennies to pay for the trip. We collected newspapers to return for cash. We wrote to our City Council to ask for trinkets and souvenirs of Long Beach to take with us to trade. Our group got little bitty balsa wood orange crates, complete with fake oranges imbued with fragrance–essence of orange blossoms–and stickers that said something like “Souvenir of Long Beach!” The local mortuary gave us pens and notepads and some discreet advertising. From other girls in other places we got back postcards and tiny beer barrels and maple syrup jugs.
In our particular encampment we had a group from Long Beach, California, a group from Connecticut, one from New Jersey, and one from Michigan. Our group traveled by train, as did most of the girls and their leaders. That in itself was a new experience. But I think what impressed me most about the whole thing was the instant connection we made with the other girls. Imagine, ten thousand 16-18 year old girls! We laughed and sang and swore that we’d write and be friends forever.
Forever lasted a couple of years. Then we got careers and husbands and other diversions–mine were named Elizabeth and Robert–to fill our time and our thoughts. You know how it goes, we always planned to call “one of these days” just to say hello, but long distance charges weren’t in the budget for a long time. I thought of Celeste every time I took out the lasagna recipe she sent me from her mom’s dictation, and remembered that special time. But I never called.
After a while, I didn’t call because I figured Celeste had forgotten me by now. I lost track of the others as well, even my own Long Beach group. How could I have let that happen, when a phone call would take only a moment? Lest I beat myself up too much, I should say that they didn’t call either. Somehow, we lost that part of our history. And now, in the fading memory accompanying my old age, I’ve lost even the names. I was lucky with Celeste because her name was unusual. I’ve found a couple of others on Facebook because they use maiden names as well as married names, probably to help with reunion plans
So, if you were ever a Girl Scout, if you ever had a friend, a teacher, a fellow traveler, someone you’ve lost touch with, someone you cared about–give them a call, if you can find them. What’s the worst that can happen?
“I don’t remember you.”
“Well, I just called to say hello, and let you know that someone remembers you.”
It might bring a smile to both of you. I promise you, it doesn’t hurt a bit.
If you were at Senior Roundup 1959, please reply to this post!
I’ll see you again, after the commercial.