Pals, Buddies, Chums, Confidants, Allies

Today’s post comes from Clyde of Mankato

Steve posted this yesterday:

I continue to be fascinated by Liam [his grandson]. His buddy is Terrian, 7 years old, the next-door neighbor kid. Terrian and Liam, 6, can play for hours. Liam was next door doing that recently until a dispute broke out between Terrian and his parents. Things escalated until the parents sent Liam home.

My daughter wondered how her son viewed the fight. I enjoy the way she talks to him, always with genuine interest in what he’ll say . . . because he is not predictable. “I stayed off to the side,” reported Liam. “When kids do something like that, you just let it happen. And then you hope they learn from their mistakes.”

Liam and Terrian–not the names of my youth. Friendship does mean not trying to change the other person, does it not?

Childhood friendships are a constant source of literature and thought. Among the many movies, my favorite is The World of Henry Orient, about two adolescent girls in New York City. You can no doubt name many others.

Childhood friendships are very important, yet they seldom last into adulthood. I have nothing in common with my long childhood friend. He went into the Navy; I went to the University of Chicago. We entered two different universes. We stumbled over each other for awhile on Facebook. We were over two years apart in age. I was the younger. In our yKis Pixouth we roamed the woods on my hill together and shared many adventures, often staying overnight in a shack built by our two older brothers, who were long friends and grew very far apart by the time they were 25.

In truth my best childhood friends were Boots and Cleo. Cleo and Clyde–we had to be welded at the hip for life.

 

What did you learn from your childhood friendships?

 

 

 

40 thoughts on “Pals, Buddies, Chums, Confidants, Allies”

    1. we had the new house syndrome common in the burbs inn the 50 and 60’s. dirt ball fights we common, slingshots got introduced my brother hit mark brugemeier in the tooth with a rock that was a big moment. my brother felt kind of bad but when we later in childhood had shingle fights (you bend the shingles and tear off a little triangle then sail them like ninja stars at the rivals of the neighborhood summer wars. mark got one of those stuck in his forehead just a couple inches above where his tooth got knocked out. my brother was this meek littel kid who never said boo but he could focus. those brugemeiers learned to fear him.

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        1. The concept of a rock fight – or dirtballs, for that matter – is foreign to me. Probably a guy thing?

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        2. It’s true that girls would generally have more sense than that, but more than anything it was just something to do. As Tim said, there was a lot of new construction around and lots of dirt piles. Rock fights or dirtball fights were just the summer equivalent of snowball fights. They didn’t involve any particular or lasting animosity.

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        3. Injury was not something we considered. And anyway, if you got hit by a rock, you weren’t paying attention. None of us were remotely lethal.

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  1. Like Liam, I am an only child. It always burns me when I hear people disparage the social and friendship skills of only childre. “Oh, she’s an only child so I guess she doesn’t share well”, or “only children don ‘t know how to get along with other children because they don ‘t have siblings to teach them “. Well, let me tell you that while only children tend to have fewer friends than children with siblings, their friendships are longer lasting and deeper than those of other children, and they are bettter skilled in tbe art of the relationship than children with siblings. So there…..pllthtt!

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    1. Is that your personal – somewhat biased – opinion, Renee, or is that a fact borne out by actual data? I’m not disputing it, just wondering.

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        1. In HS five of us guys hung out together. One was an only child. He was in fact spoiled rotten in every way, but he had hardly lacked social skills or friendships. As I teacher I often spotted the only children and the children of much older parents. Those with older parents were often more mature, more often sat back and watched rather than engaging, not because they lacked social skills. I could never put my finger on exactly what it was, but I was very often correct. Both groups were more apt to approach me just to talk to me. Other students were interested in the business of being an only child. Common talk in yearbook meetings was for other kids to bring up the only-child status of the only children.

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  2. The movie about boyhood friendship that I’ve always wanted to identify with is Stand By Me, that Steven King story about four buddies who take a hike to look for the body of a dead kid. Gordy, Chris, Teddy and Vern have adventures that resemble events from my childhood.

    Unfortunately, my actual experience doesn’t measure up well to that standard. I was so unsure of myself, so limited, so protective of my weaknesses that I couldn’t actually get to know my friends. My best friend was Mike. And yet I never shared my inner life with him, nor did he share his with me. I was vaguely aware that his mother was a scary person who threw fits . . . and when she threw a fit, she usually threw a few pots and pans. Mike could’t speak of that to me, and I was unable to ask him how he coped.

    By the time I’d matured enough to be capable of friendship, I’d left my home town and moved on in other ways. I am now working hard to improve friendships with guys I knew in college. Once again, I need to improve them because I was too young and shallow to be a friend to anyone in college.

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  3. I’m not sure that any of my childhood friends, myself included, had at that age much of an inner life worth sharing. We would gather in the morning, range over a wide area “doing stuff” with no one as a recognized leader and only show up at mealtimes, often at each other’s houses. As we matured and increased in complexity we drifted, each in his own direction. Some of my childhood friends stayed closer to each other than I did, but then I suspect they had more in common with each other than with me. I also came out of a high school graduating class of about 800 without any lasting friendships. It wasn’t until college that I found my people. Those have been some of my oldest and best friends.

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    1. I had a friend in HS with whom I shared deeper issues. He had a sister one year younger than himself who died of bone cancer when we were in ninth grade.
      By being around him with all his many skills so much I learned what skills I had and what skills I did not have.

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  4. thanks clyde, nice reflection.

    i have looked up ray dewberry a couple of times and havnt found him on facebook
    he was my early childhood through 1st grade buddy whose dad worked for honeywell and got moved to pakastan in 61 or 62. wrote a letter, got one back that was that.

    the pictures are of you and your buddy with the snow on your shoes and you and your brother and sister on the fence?
    great shots.

    my childhood was in the new burbs of bloomington with the corn fields across the street and a mix of transient homesteaders who ended up in cheap burbs tract housing.
    my neighbors rarely lasted 10 years but that didnt dawn on me at the time because i was only a 5,6,7,8 year old. the pals moved every 3 or 4 years so when you had a best friend it wasnt long before he was gone. jd grace moved 1 mile north and i had what we would call a play date today one time and that was that. friends were within a two block area. finding things to do of interest was the key. kindred spirits until they werent or until my interests changed. theirs never did.
    i learned how to side into a group, learn the culture and decide how i would fit. i think it has come in handy along the way.
    interesting folks for a childhood. i hope my kids did a better job than i did of keeping track . i think social media makes it much easier to stay in contact good news or bad than it was in the boomer days.

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    1. Both photos are among the slides my mother took. I think these two have a sort of iconic feel. Header photo is of me and my buddy. The point of the image is outside the frame, but I think my mother was sensing the larger image by excluding it. We are sitting on the roof of the woodshed, former chicken coop, which in the summer time would be a dozen feet in the air. But that winter (1955?) we had heavy snow and much drifting. Right below our feet was a high drift piled up against the woodshed.
      Other picture is us three siblings and Boots. My mother took about 400 slides around our farm and the environs. Boots must be in about 380 of them.
      There is a sad sort of commentary in this picture. My brother has separate himself from the family over hate of our parents especially our father, with justification re our father. My brother could never please our father. I didn’t care and din’t try. My brother, then about 15, is dressed exactly like our father in this picture, right down to the angle on the cap.

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  5. I spent a lot of time at the home of my closest boyhood friend. I was always welcome there. I learned the value of having people available who would welcome me into their home. I didn’t develop a long term relationship with this friend or his family. Never-the-less, my friend and his family were a very important of my early development.

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  6. I’m not sure I knew, when I was young, that people could have intimate relationships unless they were a romantic couple. One reason I mention the movie Stand By Me is that those boys were able to do more sharing than I could. (Or some of them could.) If any of the gang I grew up with had that kind of friendship and that kind of sharing, it escaped my notice.

    Most of my life I have idolized romantic intimacy because I didn’t understand that that kind of relationship could exist between people who weren’t “in love.” I grew up observing my parents’ love for each other, and that remained, for many years, the only model I had for that kind of trust, affection and intimacy.

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  7. At 16, my family moved to Minnesota. I’ll always consider this as the end of my childhood because I was forced to leave all of my friends and activities behind. The two remaining years in high school were insufficient to form close friends. After graduating, I commuted to and from the U of M for one year and again, the time was too brief and the school so large that making new friends was impossible. It didn’t help that, after this one year, I “had to get married”.

    During this 10-year marriage, we had couples as friends, so when I divorced, those relationships ended along with my marriage. I was fortunate enough to live in a cul de sac for the next 30 years in which our home was the hub of a rich social life (I’ve written about this before). I literally could step out on the yard and some neighbor would be there to have a conversation. Parties, births, graduations, weddings, and deaths were all shared experiences.

    Moving to the lake where there’ve been no neighbors, and realizing that my old neighbors were connected through proximity, I’ve been lonely out here in this beautiful setting. The old neighborhood was the only time in my life that I was part of a community, and it was wonderful. It’s not easy to find or make new friends at this age or have a social life as a divorced woman. I did date for a few years after my second divorce eleven years ago, but that’s a comical story for later.

    Two weeks ago, my daughter’s 21-year old son, Conner, moved in with me and I’d have to say, it’s been two of the best weeks of my time on the lake!! I’d long since forgotten how it felt to have another human being around and I just love it. I now wish that I’d have the precious opportunity to bond with each of my 12 grand kids by having them, one at a time, live with me for a while before they’re grown and gone. I’m sure that I’ll be capturing this experience in words on TB in the future, but for now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy it.

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  8. OT – Did anyone have the stomach to listen to the entire Trump spiel tonight? This man is seriously deranged and dangerous.

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    1. I had the TV on and listened to most of it, though I zoned out a few times. Putting aside the question of whether you agree with him on the issues, I thought it was unreasonably long, though the audience didn’t seem to mind much, and it was certainly unfocused. I doubt anyone who wasn’t already a Trump supporter would have been very impressed.

      I found the speech made by Donald Trump Jr. on a previous evening more troubling. He has excellent speaking skills, which could make him more dangerous than his father. He seemed to have been tasked with trying to bring disaffected Bernie Sanders voters on board. Don’t know if any of them were persuaded. I would be worried if he became a candidate himself in future years – he might pick up support from his father’s voters just on the name alone, and lacking the family tendency to insult women and minorities, he could actually achieve the party unity that is currently absent.

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  9. I still have letters from a couple of friends from my grade school and high school years. I always liked writing letters, so having a pen pal pleased me. In a couple of cases the friendship probably developed more fully when we were separated by distance, since it required some dedication to keep up the correspondence.

    Someday I should dig those letters out from whatever closet they’re buried in.

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  10. Childhood friendships are important, I’m sure, if for no other reason than the social skills they teach you. I’ve been contemplating my childhood friendships – with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight and an adult perspective – here are some of my observations.

    Until the age of eleven, I lived in a small town (2,300 people), and though most of my friends lived in my immediate neighborhood, a few did not. But more importantly, I’m now aware of two girls, Inga and Myrna, who did live in our neighborhood but were not a part of the core group that always hung out together. To the best of my recollection, we never made any effort to exclude them, but neither did we ever invite them to birthday parties or to our homes for play dates. Why was that?

    Inga and Myrna were dirty, and they smelled, and Myrna had epilepsy. In first grade Myrna was a classmate of mine, and I recall that her seizures scared me. Because I was the classmate who lived the closest to her, I was always the one to walk her home after a seizure. I was worried about her and scared to death that she’d have another seizure on the way home.

    We weren’t mean to them, but they were never sought out for participation in anything. I recall that none of us would accept a candy from either of them unless it came wrapped in cellophane. Their parents had a mink farm right outside town, and they both worked at the local fish processing plant. Hence the smell, I guess. The stench of dead fish hung in their dirty clothes which they apparently didn’t change when they got home from work. I recall on one occasion my family having been invited to their house for dinner. It would not have been polite to decline such an invitation, and so we went. I recall my dad and uncle Leo beating a hasty retreat before we even sat down for dinner. They had noticed a very obvious large pile of dog poop on the floor of the hallway leading to the dining room. They were NOT going to eat at that house. My mom, my sister and I, and uncle Børge stayed. We ate as little as we possibly could before we too, excused ourselves.

    In retrospect, I feel bad about Inga and Myrna. They were perfectly nice kids. But the fact of the matter is, they did smell, and they were dirty. I wonder why no social service agency ever intervened? In a town that small, everyone was aware of the filth in which they lived. It seems like it would have been an easy problem to fix.

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    1. I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but it seems to me that the most unforgivable thing about this whole story is that a first grader was given the assignment of walking the epileptic child home after a seizure. She should have had the attention of a nurse, or one of her parents, or at least a responsible adult. How harrowing this must have been for everyone. Dirt and odor are unpleasant things, but so much less harmful than the neglect of a serious medical condition. If Myrna’s family had had money, a better solution would have been found.

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  11. I grew up in a town of less than 500 people. The kids within a two or three block area just kind of hung out together. A girl across the street became my best friend. We pretty much lived at each other’s houses. We were a year apart in school but still stayed close through high school. We started drifting when I went off to college and later, after she married and started a family, she moved to the west coast and our friendship turned into letters at Christmas. Even that dwindled until this past year when we reconnected via Facebook.
    The close friendships I have now developed through college, travel, and music. Many of them are long distance but we have been friends long enough that when we do meet up (sometimes after years), we pick up right where we left off. I guess those are the best kind of friendships to have.

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  12. In my elementary school days, I recall that there were a few kids that lived in single parent homes, as the result of divorce or the death of one parent. Those kids tended to gravitate toward one another, and were set apart from the kids of two-parent households. I don’t think there was a real intention to be unkind on the part of the two-parent kids, but maybe a subconscious fear kept them apart,

    These days single parent households are so common that I doubt there is much separation of that sort.

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