Sunday, November 6, 2011

On old friends and the best of times ...

Some of the best things in my memory are from the way-back-when of grade school.  There are so many of us who were classmates then and have remained in some degree of touch to this day.  It's the old pack, the ones from the north side, including the ones from the "wrong" side of the tracks like me.  We could walk home from Eastwood and never fear for the worst.  Every few streets there was a "safe-house" picture in the window of someone's home, usually that of an extra-protective mom who wanted the neighbor kids to know where to go in case of trouble.  A bicycle was our easy transportation to the school, where a free bus took us to the swimming pool in summer months.  Our moms knew the two-hour route intrevals, and 10-minute whistle breaks made us rest on the hour, but we were pretty much on our own beyond that. The small-town world was our oyster, and we were free to roam it.  But those were the '70s.

I remember Girl Scouts and sleep-overs. Maybe the girls didn't get invited to my house so much, but I cherished going to their homes.  It was an escape from the confines of a middle-child existence, with parental attention usually elsewhere, and not enough left out of the weekly paycheck to go around.  It was an event to go to those bunking parties, as we called them.  No way would my mom let me have more than one person over at a time.  She was pulled to opposing ends with four of her own kids as it was. 

My friends had the scoop on each party.  We knew which hosting mom was friendly and who was strict, who would yell up (or down) the stairs for us to be quiet past midnight.  Some parents were willing to pick me up for the party, but I think the consistency of the inconvenience wore out my welcome with others.  Regardless, we knew what house had the most fun in store.  Many nights were spent with Ouija Boards, Magic 8 Ball, and "light as a feather, stiff as a board." If only I still had my vintage red-white-n-blue sneaker sleeping bag!

My friend, Lanea, is and was awesome!  She introduced us all to a crazy band our young minds tried to absorb.  She was the most die-hard KISS fan you could ever encounter, and her mom was the coolest about letting her immerse herself in that fandom.  Every inch of her bedroom walls was covered in magazine pages of Ace Freely, Peter Kriss, and Gene Simmons.  Who was that other guy?  Lanea's room was the coolest out of every one of us.  I don't think she ever heard, "Don't put a tack through that plaster!" or "You better not use Scotch tape on that panelling!" (It was, after all, the '70s.)  Lanea decked her walls with her love of music, and she carried that tradition into adulthood.

She combined the joy she gained from music and a knack for cooking into a joint labor of love with her best friend, Maggie. Their story is heart-warming and amazing.

Maggie's legacy lives on at  Rock on, ya'll.

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