Thursday, January 27, 2011

Old Friends in Lewes

Friends Larry and Ron have breakfast at The Filling Station, Lewes, DE 
January 27, 2011
One of the nice things about retirement is that you can spend more times reuniting with old friends.  

One such old friend of mine is Larry M. of Claymont, Delaware.  Claymont is at the northern top of the state in Newcastle, County while I am at the lower end of the state in Sussex County.  Kent County separates us.  Delaware only has three counties, we are a small state.

I've known my good friend Larry since third grade.  Now that would be since 1951 which is exactly SIXTY YEARS AGO!  NO!  We can't be THAT OLD.  Hard to believe.

Dressed as scarecrows for a sixth grade Operetta 1953
I am in the plaid shirt in the back on the left 

 Larry is on the back on the right
Larry and I used to trade comic books.  I would bring my stack of sixty of so comic books of the Crypt Keeper and Little Lulu's to trade for his Scrooge McDuck and Superman comic books. Oh how I used to love those innocent days.  

We both lived on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  Larry's family (he is an only child - both of his parents are in their 90's now and still on their own) lived in a rented house at 417 Washington Avenue near the East Ward Elementary School.  My family lived in a second floor rented apartment on 120 Washington Avenue, near Wagner's Grocery store.  Both of our fathers were truck drivers and our mothers were stay at home moms.  Larry and I clicked right away and we were best friends until his parents moved to Pughtown (what a name for a town)PA right before we were to enter tenth grade in high school.  Larry and I stayed friends but we had the geographical distance took away the "best friend" classification.  Bill B. became my new BF.  A boy has to have a BFF.

BF'S Larry, Stuart and Ron October 1957
Larry and I had a lot in common except for the big difference in that he is straight and I am gay.  But I'm a tolerant person by nature so I never held Larry's heterosexuality against him.  (Hey, I'm kidding Lar.)  

After we graduated from high school we gradually drifted away from one another.  I tried to get Larry to join the Army with me under the Buddy System but fate intervened again and his Mom wasn't having any of that.  So I joined the Army alone, which coincidentally was exactly 51 years ago to this day - I shipped out January 27th, 1960. A day I will never forget for as long as I live because I was scared to death when I boarded that for basic training to Ft. Dix, New Jersey.

Larry, Ginny (my blind date Larry set up up with) and me 1959
Ginny was nice but the blind date was an exercise in futility
I still hand't come to terms with my sexual identity

We kept in contact by mail while I was in the service but over time our friendship gradually faded into the background as our other life events demanded more of our time.  

Larry and me when I was home on leave from the Army in the summer of 1962

Over the years we kept in touch by Christmas cards, as I have done with many old friends, relatives and former co-workers.  However, except for one chance encounter on Spruce Street in Philadelphia, I didn't see Larry face to face for many years.

Then on Thanksgiving 2001 (I remember it well because it was the year of 9/11), I received a Thanksgiving card from his mother suggesting that I call Larry.  She told me that Larry had recently lost his longtime job at the bank where he worked in Wilmington and was depressed.  She thought maybe if I talked to him I could lift him out of his depression.  Larry's mother knew that if anyone could distract Larry from his doldrums, it was me.  I gladly accepted her challenge

Coincidentally, I had also had a longtime job at a bank (in Philadelphia) which I had recently lost.  I called Larry and that was the beginning of the renewal of our friendship.  

Larry and me at 10 Downing Street Restaurant 2003
Resuming our friendship after a 40 year intermission
From that time, now ten years ago, Larry and I have maintained an e-mail relationship.  We have differing political views.  A few times there has been periods of silence after a disagreement after a particularly heated e-mail discussion about a political issue (Lar is basically conservative and I'm progressive on most issues) but we overcame these minor speed bumps in our friendship and resumed our relationship like nothing ever happened.  That is the definition of true friendship.  Political disagreements come and go but friendship is forever.

Larry, his wife Lois and me on the Spirit of Philadelphia Cruise 2004
(Note:  I'm still traveling solo, no date) 
For the last two years Larry and his wife Lois planned a little getaway for themselves and visited the Inn where I work for a personal visit.  This week Larry and Lois came down for a visit on Tuesday night.  We went out to dinner at the Irish Eyes.  That dinner was the subject of my previous blog posting "How Not to Dine Out."  The problem wasn't them but the in house entertainment at Irish Eyes, some guy singing Irish jigs the whole 1 3/4 hours were  eating and trying to have a conversation.  Of course maybe part of the problem was that the waitress sat us ringside but I already explained that little adventure in my previous blog.

Last night I worked at the Inn while Larry and his wife were still guests at the Inn.  It was raining when I went in at 2:45 pm.  By 8:30 pm the rain had turned to a mixture of snow, sleet and ice so I decided not to risk life and limb by driving home after my shift ended at 11 pm.  I decided to stay overnight at the Inn, two doors down from my friends Larry and Lois.

My involuntary incarceration at the Inn was not really a bad thing considering that I work at the premier boutique hotel in Lewes.  That's one of the good things about working at a hotel, when you can't go home you have a place to stay.  I picked one of those plush rooms on the top floor with the king size bed after my shift ended last night at 11 PM.  Once my head hit that feather pillow, I was off in Dreamland for the next seven hours.  I didn't even get up to pee, that's how comfortable I was.  Man oh man, I DID NOT want to get up this morning.

So I get up, see that my car all iced over, and decide "What the hey?"  I'll have breakfast with my friend of sixty years, Lar.  

It looks innocent but that is ice on my car this morning
We walked down Savannah Road to The Filling Station Restaurant.  It wasn't opened yet so we decided to take a tour of downtown Lewes on the cold, gray, ice covered streets of Lewes, Delaware and take pictures.  Larry likes to take pictures almost as much as I do.  

So here is my photo essay of my Breakfast in Lewes, Delaware with my good friend Lar this morning, January 27th, 2011 while we were awing the restaurant to open:

Larry M, January 27, 2011 - Lewes, Delaware
Ron, January 27, 2011 Lewes, Delaware

Larry doing his best Samson imitation in the Lewes Park


  1. Love it! I still keep in touch with friends that I've known since I was in kindergarten so I know how you feel. Obviously, I haven't known them for 60 years but that will take time. You know that I do like your trips down memory lane. And so cool that you have all of those pictures. FYI, 1960 was fifty one years ago. Check your math! Beyond that, I would have joined you in the Buddy System. Happy Anniversary! m.
    Your Friend, m.

  2. I totally agree that friendship is forever but it must come from both sides and be purely voluntary. Thanks for sharing your story Ron!

  3. Thank you Mark! I have a lot of years and a lot of pictures so expect many more trips down Memory Lane from this blog.

  4. Well said Tai, true friendship is mutual, never one sided.

  5. What a lovely tribute; I hope I have a few friends like this when I am 60.

  6. Ron,

    Actually we have been friends sixty-one years. Not certain we hit it off right in January, but we did become comic book trading buddies in third grade, but the year was 1950. I began first grade in 1947, second in 1948 and third in 1949. I started third grade at a school in the country when I lived in the swamp. Over Christmas vacation that year we moved into town and in January 1950 I entered Miss Ezra's class at East Ward and we met.

    I didn't move to Pughtown (pronounced Pewtown). Pugh town was named for its founder, Hugh Pugh. My family is related by marriage and I have a long ago cousin named Hugh Meredith who was named after Hugh Pugh. That cousin was Benjamin Franklin's first partner in the printing business. Hugh's father, Simon (whose home still stands down the road from my parents and is on the historic register) financed the venture hoping Franklin would be a good influence on his son and tone down Hugh's drinking. It didn't work out that way.

    Anyway, we moved to a town a couple miles away from Pughtown called Bucktown. I don't know who Buck was.

    Ron, I wish we had never had that gap in our relationship. I also didn't drop the BF after I moved, I still considered you my best friend and I still do.


  7. Why thank you Larry! I also consider you a BF. What I should have said was my new "hang around" BF. I always have to have one of those in my life. You have Lois, "The Little Woman." After you deserted me in 9th grade, Bill B. and I became BF hang around. When I was in the Army it was Bob McC. Now it is Bill K.

    I really enjoyed seeing you and Lois this week. You'll have to come down to Lewes in season. It's a whole different place. You would like it.

    Did you drive into the snow when you got home?

  8. Spo,
    I have a feeling you will have many friends when you're 60. By the way, I'm 69, pushing 70. Fun times!

  9. It is so cool you have a life-long friend like Larry. We all should be so fortunate.

  10. Yes Cubby, I have a few life-long friends like Larry. One of my other friends is Bill B. I was just talking to him yesterday on the phone. We were in marching band together. He played the bass drum and I played the Sousaphone. We still talk like we're 16 year old kids. I wish I could get him to come down and visit but he's seriously pussy whipped.
    By the way, check my blog posting today. I found my pictures from the Washington March.

  11. Ron,

    Driving up from Lewes wasn't bad for the most part until we hit Rt. 13. It was pretty rough. The main street into our development was a mess, actually a bit scary since I had Lo's car and had no idea how it would handle snow and ice. Our street was very good so no trouble getting up the hill. Darryl had shoveled the driveway, which was good.

    The main street in our development was worse this morning, but is getting better this afternoon, although it was snowing when I came home.

    We are supposed to get more snow on top of this foot on Saturday.


  12. Lar,
    I just canceled my Friday Night Dine Out Group tonight. I was to meet them at 7 o'clock at Zorba's. I like Zorba's but I don't want to travel at night in the near freezing temps when it's raining lightly. Everything could be coated in ice when I leave at 8:30. I am so looking forward to spring!


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