My Toledo childhood was a very happy one. I roller skated around the neighborhood, climbed trees in the school yard and played jacks. A recent message from a classmate put me in mind of the friendships I enjoyed as a kid. Kathi, Kendy and Kathy were the closest. We walked to Ottawa Hills Elementary School each day, a half-mile trek from my house. I particularly remember a sidewalk cut-through to the school lined with fragrant lilac bushes. We often played together after school at someone's house. As long as we showed up for dinner, our mothers didn't care.
Like me, Kathy Barnum was the oldest of three, with a brother and sister the same ages as mine. When my mom announced that she was pregnant with my brother Peter, my siblings and I marched over to Kathy's house to inform Jeanne Barnum she needed to have another baby and soon, so our carefully matched families would continue to align. She laughingly declined this request, of course. Tony Barnum was a pilot flying small aircraft out of Toledo Express Airport. He would take us up in his plane and fly over the neighborhood so we could pick out our houses, all the while, filling the cabin with smoke from his big cigar. One Easter morning, my mom received a panicked call from Mrs. Barnum because their dog Maggie had consumed all the Easter candy, so she borrowed some from our baskets to share.
Kathi was a bit of a wild child. Her very religious parents were strict and she was always trying to find ways around the rules. Her mother dropped us off at the movies, believing that we were going to see something appropriate and we went to Teahouse of the August Moon instead. When we got a little older, Kathi and I loved to go to A&W for root beer and French fries while discussing our latest boyfriend problems.
Kendy was quiet and friendly. Her dad, a doctor like mine, had been stationed in Puerto Rico and the family lived there for a time, something we thought very exotic. Kendy had a horse named McDuff and was so in love with him, we teased her about marrying the animal. I remember having long conversations about what first names we liked best for potential husbands.
As high school began, we each found our own paths, but stayed casual friends. Recently, I've been in touch with all three through Facebook and email. How lucky we were to have such a good start in life, blissfully unaware of the problems of the world.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.