Big Red Car here in the ATX whereat it is 31F headed to 60F brrrr. Can’t get warm.
The Boss is in Wrightsville Beach whereat it is even colder and it’s not getting warmer there. Silly Boss!
But there is one warm spot to focus on today, FRIENDSHIP.
This is a story of friendship and y’all should consider it carefully.
More than a half a century ago, two Southern girls were at a summer camp. Not important where or the name but it was a church camp. Church summer camps are where Southern girls went in the summer to find their character, to develop their wiles, and to make friends.
One of the girls was from Winston-Salem and the other was from Savannah, both cities in those days safely anchored in the South and neither in any danger of wandering out of that safe harbor.
They were girls — puberty had not yet reared its ugly head — and they bonded across canoes and other camp related stuff. Fires, Smores, hot dogs, archery, tank gunnery. [The tank gunnery is to see if you’re paying attention.]
Friendship blossomed and they visited each other in Winston and Savannah. Their friendship grew. They both went to college in the South. Because that’s what Southern girls did.
And when it came time to marry, they were in each other’s weddings. Back in those days, Southern weddings were in churches and receptions were at country clubs and there was no dancing — dancing being vertical foreplay and vertical foreplay being something that proper girls didn’t do at weddings.
These were proper Southern girls from families led by doctors and lawyers, no Indian chiefs. Proper. Southern.
Then, life intervened and they lost track of each other but they lived similar lives. What would you expect, they were Southern girls and they lived Southern lives — two babies each, three redheads amongst them.
The Savannah girl was a wicked pretty redhead and the Winston-Salem girl was a beautiful blonde. Their children were the same.
Facebook, in a circular manner, brought them back together and the Winston girl sent her cubs to the University of Georgia where the Savannah girl had gone and sent her girls.
Out of two mommas there five Georgia Bulldogs because Georgia was a Southern school and they were Southern girls and their children were Southern though the Winston girl lived in Texas which is not the South. It is the West. Which is great but different.
Four kids. Three redheaded girls. All four went to the University of Georgia. How is that an accident? It isn’t. [OK, little inaccuracy there, one girl went to Auburn. Sorry. Hey, I’m just a Big Red Car, y’all.]
When they reconnected, they had more fun than allowed north of Washington, DC. They visited, husbands in tow, in Sandersville, Georgia and Austin, Texas and Highland, North Carolina. They liked each of their husbands which was convenient because their husbands liked them as well. They made up for lost time.
Last Sunday, en route back from church, because on Sunday mornings that’s where Southern girls are on Sunday mornings, the girl from Winston cried out, “Oh, no.”
It was the kind of cry that is reserved for death and children and sorrow. You will know it when you hear it and the Big Red Car hopes you never hear it but you, likely, will.
“My friend’s husband died.”
The Savannah girl’s husband was a great man. A great American. A great Georgian. The longest sitting judge in the history of the State of Georgia. A veteran but most importantly — his greatest achievement — he was married to that cute red head from Savannah. And, most importantly, he knew the proper order of his accomplishments.
He died on Sunday. The obituary and the location floated to the surface on Monday and Tuesday found the girl from Winston-Salem (who now lived in Austin, Texas) on an airplane en route to Atlanta.
She arrived with her husband in tow at midnight in Atlanta, rented a car (the rental car place was closed, so this was no small feat), drove down the Interstate, got to bed slightly before two in the morning, got up early and drove to Sandersville, Georgia and the First Methodist Church whereat her camp friend of 50+ years was mourning and burying her husband.
The ceremony was touching as befitting a great man. The tributes were poignant.
When the memorial service was over, there was a reception for the family in the social hall of the church. It was a well-worn social hall and it was a well-worn church because this is the part of the country wherein folks cling to their guns, their God, their Bibles, and go to church.
In walked the cute red head from Savannah, now a widow, and there stood her camp friend. They embraced.
“I can’t believe you came all that way.”
But, here’s the thing — there was no way that girl from Winston-Salem could have failed to come that way. It was in her DNA.
Because in the South friendships made at church camps endure anything. They endure time, space, intervention, gaps, the necessities of living, children, and the inconvenience of dying. They endure everything.
I’m tempted to suggest it is a Southern thing and, maybe, it is. But, maybe, just maybe, it’s just a little girl thing and that such precious friendships are just that damn special.
Half a century is a long time but it is only a point in time because that friendship will endure. Forever.
The girl from Winston-Salem is married to The Boss.
So, today, call some old lost friend. Rekindle that friendship. Make a new friend and let the beauty of that friendship counter the ugliness of the world we live in today. Ugliness is winning right now. Let’s fight back.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car but I know one thing — friendships made at a church summer camp more than a half century ago are more powerful than any other force of nature. And, if they are in the South, who knows, maybe there’s a chance for all of us.