The best of friends

Oct 19th, 2018 | By | Category: Mary Cook's Memories of the '30s

By Mary Cook

There was no doubt about it, I was very blessed indeed. I had two very special friends … not just school chums, but real honest-to-goodness friends. Velma lived on the farm next to me, and so we saw each other just about every day. We walked to school together, and even on Saturdays, after we had done our house chores, we would end up at one or the other’s house to play.

Joyce lived farther away, but we saw each other often. It was a special treat for me if I was invited to her home to play, because she lived in a brick house with a real flush toilet, and real toilet paper on a roll. Such luxury I could hardly imagine!

But Velma and I ended up seeing each other more often, even when we weren’t at school. We shared lunches, and once we even shared chewing gum! Velma would chew it for a spell, and then hand the wad over to me. Never did we give any thought to the passing on of germs.

And Velma would defend me to the death if there was any bullying at the Northcote School. She wasn’t above giving bad Marguirite a good tongue-lashing if she said something to upset me. Yes, Velma was a loyal friend indeed.

And Velma constantly praised me for the least little achievement telling me I was the best step-dancer in all of Renfrew County, when of course, I knew I wasn’t. And she never made me feel like we were poor. Her clothes were usually nicer than mine, because she had three older sisters, so her hand-me-down clothes always seemed newer. Of course, mine were usually made over from something Aunt Lizzie had sent in the hand-me-down box from Regina.

And then there was my other best friend, Joyce. She had only one brother, so I felt that made her family rich. And I knew for a fact that her underwear came from Walker’s Store in Renfrew … mine was made from bleached out flour bags.

Joyce too, often shared her lunch with me at the Northcote School. She had store-bought meat right out of Briscoe’s General Store … my sandwiches were usually jelly. And store-bought cookies … can you imagine such wealth? And sometimes she brought a banana or a bunch of grapes, which she never failed to share with me.

I would watch her take it out of her tin lunch box … my lunch was in a brown paper bag … and she would break the skin and peel it back, and then break the banana in two, and hand one half over to me. And I would feel the utmost warmth for my little friend Joyce, over the simple joy of sharing a piece of fruit.

And when I was invited to stay overnight at either Velma’s or Joyce’s home, it was a very special treat. Velma, with a big family made me feel right at home playing games around their big kitchen table before we went to bed. And at Joyce’s house, which had electricity, I marvelled at all the wealth around me. No coal oil lamps in her house!

And I would rejoice at how lucky I was to have such wonderful and loyal friends like Joyce and Velma. And I would add them to my prayers at night, asking that we would be friends forever. I couldn’t think of a richer blessing.

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