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There's No Friend Like An Old Friend

    Even though I moved away from the little town of Parish, N.Y., years ago, I still keep in touch with my women friends I met while I lived there. I truly believe those were some of my best days. And nights.
    My kids were young and I was a single mom and still willing to try anything once. Or twice.
    Evelyn Stelmashuck and I had some of what I'd say were my grandest adventures. We had a little help at times from Bridget Swartz, Cheri Stookes, Janet Clerkin and Debbie Patterson. Those ladies are the best. They don't play. On second thought, they do play.
    Come 4th of July you'd find Evelyn, her brother Steve, her dad - we just always referred to him as "Pa" - her husband Gary (if she could convince him to go along with her) and her kids sitting in Steve's Chevy parked in his front yard, everyone watching the fireworks as they went off over the East Coast Resort a few miles away. I joined them a couple of times and I still don't understand why we sat in the car like we were watching a drive-in movie.
    There were lots of cookouts and potluck celebrations. Evelyn always made broccoli rice casserole and you could count on Bridget to bring the cottage cheese. I liked to add a little cultural diversity with some hummus dip, but more likely than not, I was broke and used the opportunity to fill up on their food. Evelyn still swears by her casserole.
    "I make a double batch and they lick their plates clean. You don't even have to wash the dishes when they're done."
    Evelyn and I had some wild times. She was the parish secretary and was responsible for printing the church bulletin. She always finished it late and we'd run up to the church office at night and run the copies off on the printer and then put the pages in order.
    There was a nun who used to help our pastor, Father Tony, on weekends. She was something else. Sister Corinne, God rest her soul. Let's just say she fit the stereotype of nuns in the 1950s. Maybe 40s. Maybe 30s.
    My house was close to the church and the rectory. Our backyards touched. We had a calico cat who was loved by even the staunchest cat hater. Her name was Mel and Sister Corinne used to swing her broom at her any time she saw her outside. Sister Corinne was no St. Francis. Besides hitting Mel with her broom, she also used to howl at Bridget's dog (Bridget and her husband Fred and her daughter Kathy lived right next door to the rectory) getting him so riled up that he'd bark for days.
    One Friday night we got to the rectory particularly late and we knew Sister Corinne was staying there while Father Tony was away. Evelyn had to print the bulletin and she kept shushing me, trying to be as quiet as possible.
    "You know she always looks out the window," Evelyn said, "now be quiet."
    I went that night as a sort of bodyguard for Evelyn. She couldn't really sass Sister Corinne because she actually got a paycheck from the parish. I, however, was not paid by our church. After all that cat chasing, barking like a dog - not to mention the torture Janet's boys Sean and Brendan went through as altar servers under the direction of Sister Corinne - I was not about to be deterred.
    As Evelyn recently reminded me, that night I put my beer bottle down on the grass in front of the rectory and said, "If she comes out here, I'll cold-cock her."
    Thankfully, Sister Corinne either heard me or just didn't care enough to come down the stairs to the church office that night. I like to think she heard me. I'll admit here and now that she was about five feet tall and 94 pounds. However, she was a strong presence. I think she would have put up a fight.
    I've been talking to Evelyn a lot recently because her brother Steve's leg was broken when he took a fall on the ice a couple of weeks ago. Bridget called to let me know how it all played out. I wasn't surprised because Steve's had trouble in the past with his leg giving out.
    Thank God he doesn't have wide hips. Everybody in Parish knows men always get the sugar diabetes when they've got wide hips.
    I plan to call him soon to check in. He is still the town supervisor and is somewhat of a dignitary. I understand he uses a cell phone now. I remember when he had a black rotary phone hung up on his paneled wall. Those were the days.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Deb said…
This was beautiful - made me proud to be a Parishite!!!! And I didn't even know that Steve had broken his leg! The PIA has let me down.
Connie Berry said…
You know it's bad when I have the news 500 miles away before you do! You better get thee to the liberry.
Deb said…
Hey! Shouldn't names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent?! Thank God you only wrote of potential run ins with members of the clergy, rather than actual run ins with members of law enforcement. :)

Off to the liberry now...

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