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Memories - Holly and Bruce

Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were

Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? could we? "


Last Friday was a very special, very memorable, very emotional day in my life.  It's a day that  had it's beginnings in a small New England town fifty three years ago.  It was 1956, the magical post war 1950s where everything was possible for returning WWII GIs and what is now known as the  Baby Boomer generation they spawned.  The GI Bill enabled returning veterans to complete college and also to obtain a Verteran's Mortgage.  The housing boom of the 1950s had begun, enabling hundreds of thousands of young familes nationwide to leave city apartments and cramped multi-family houses of the northeast (in my case) and move to the newly developing suburbs,  Suburbia personified the American Dream for every young couple in postwar America as a place where they could own their own home and raise their children away from city life.

My father was a returning veteran and our piece of the American dream was a three bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage brick ranch house situated on a corner lot in a new development named Webster Heights.  It was a lovely neighborhood full of familes with young children.  One of the big draws for my parents was that children who lived in Webster Heights would attend the new elementary school opening that Fall.  I would be a member of the first group of third graders  in that school.  My brother, Bucky would enter second grade.  It was a small school but as modern as modern could be for those days.  There were two classes for each grade level K-6.  The classes were small, no more than twenty, so I figure no more than two hundred and eighty children all together.  Every child knew every other child.  Most of us had siblings in each other's class.  The boys played Little League Baseball together and were in the same cub scout packs.  We girls were in Brownies together and later girl scouts.  Every school year/grade you had a fifty- fifty chance of being with one set of kids or another. 

I met Holly and Bruce when I was eight and in the third grade.  One or the other of them was almost always in my class.  It wasn't until fifth grade that all three of us ended up in Mrs. Pulito's fifth grade class.  Holly was always not just the prettiest girl with her thick brown hair and dazzling eyes, but honestly, always the nicest and kindest girl.  Bruce was the "hot boy" of the elementary school.  All of the girls took turns having playground crushes on him.

When we hit seventh grade, we all went over to the high school which was then grades 7-12.  There we joined with kids from two other tiny surrounding towns who had gone to a different elementary school. We all knew most of them also because our towns were so small.  When I was in 8th grade my brother died of brain cancer.  My parents pulled me out of school and sent me to a small private school.  They divorced shortly thereafter and I bounced back and forth between my mother and my father and his new wife in Canada.  I'd be in school with Holly and Bruce, then I'd be gone, then I'd be back.  I really didn't belong anywhere anymore.  Eventually, in 1967, I went away to college, far away from New England.  Before I left, I had met an older boy from town who was in the Marines.  The Vietnam war was raging.  He lucked out and ended up in Japan.  We wrote each other and in 1969, I left college after two years and returned to New England.  We married in 1970 and to be trite, the rest is history,  We stayed in our litle town only until 1973 and then moved to upstate NY.  Neither one of us has ever lived in our hometown again.  I lost touch with everyone.  I counted up today and calculated that since leaving my hometown for good in 1973, I have lived in fifteen houses in twelve cities/towns in five states. 

About four years ago, through the magic of the internet, I reconnected with another hometown boy, Rich, when he found me in cyberspace.  We then met several times here in Florida as he has a sister who lives near me.  Two weeks ago, when I wrote in my blog of being ill, I received a surprise email from Holly.  She started it with "Hi, this is Holly V., I don't know if you remember me, but Rich gave me the address of your blog and I've been reading of your illness."  I wrote back and said, "Oh Holly, of course I remember you.  How could I ever forget the prettiest and nicest girl in our class?"  She went on to tell me she had married Bruce 38 years ago.  I had no clue.  We corresponded via email.  She told me her dad had died and that her mother lived in Florida also, on the opposite coast from me.  She and Bruce were coming to visit her mother the next weekend.  It just happened to be the same weekend that we were heading over to the west coast about twenty miles from where Holly's mother lives.  I don't need to tell you the next thing, do I?

Last Friday, Holly, Bruce, John and I met for lunch at The Salty Dog on Siesta Key.  I was worried that we wouldn't recognize each other after almost forty years.  Silly Me!  They are both the same.  They  say I am, too.  It was like fifth grade only taller.  Holly is as sweet as ever.  Bruce is exactly the same Bruce I remember.  We had a wonderful time.  When we arrived home this week, Holly had sent 2 CDs full of old photos from elementary and high school and photos taken at our 40th high school reunion.  Afterward, in an email, I tried to explain to Holly how very much our luncheon meeting has meant to me...

Dear Holly,
First, I want you to know how much seeing you and Bruce meant to me.  It was absolutely wonderful.  I don't know if I can explain this, but after Bucky died and  my parents divorced etc etc etc, I really  felt like I had ceased to exist.  I felt terribly alone.  I worked really really hard to make a life for myself, by myself.  I kept struggling to recreate Dana.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I have two wonderful children and now, a fantastic life with John.  And, yes, he is a nice and truly wonderful man.  Sometimes luck comes late.  Anyway, you will never know how meeting you and Bruce again has been for me.  The two of you validated that I have always been Dana from *our small town*and that people remember me.  I will always be grateful to you both for that.



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