"I thought I'd never see you again!" she said. Helen Decker, 91, moved away from Lake Mohawk while I was heading out to college. She lived two doors away when there was not yet such thing as next door neighbors; she and her family lived several lots away. We lived in a bay that had few year round residents. When I came home from school, I'd head there first and she would make grilled cheese and pickle sandwiches. Her daughters were friends and one, Zella, lived next door to her parents with her sons.
37 years is a lot of time. Before I saw Helen, I saw Zella and we talked. At first, I thought she was Helen! Zella, God bless, is a breast cancer survivor.
My best friend from the second half of eighth grade, when I moved to the lake and left behind Deb Page Novak in Louisville, was Debbie Decker. She and I used to comb each other's hair for hours and jabber away about our crushes. Helen recalled how I was crushed in eighth grade when my crush would not given me the time of day.
We met Saturday night, after a marathon shopping day - done in two shifts - at the Lake Mohawk Club House during a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Dave Decker's son, Doug, who has small cell carcinoma of the lungs. Dave was the older brother with a boat who taught me to water ski.
He remembered how hard I was to teach. He did not remember how in subsequent years, I used to ski past his house and spray him with my hot little slalom ski. Selective memory I guess.
Karen Gamber-Wackerly, left, was my hostess on my trip home. The Gamber girls were cousins to Debbie, on her father and their mother's side. Karen is now the postmistress at Malvern. Her sister, Beth Shearer, has a cattle farm now. Both are widowed. Growing up, their father Dick was the cattleman and my school bus driver. My senior year, I served him breakfast at the Kopper Kettle before he went to the bus depot.
When we were growing up, Beth went on my first spring break to Florida with me. Yes. we were the hot chicks of North Miami Beach that year. And boys our age from our hometown stayed a hotel away and kept track of us, made sure no boy sharks got near. We were close that way, all of us from Malvern, Ohio.
The night was still young and the Gamber girls and I had a date at the West End Inn. Tomorrow, that story. And a little bit about the Funky Chicken.