Throwback Thursday #17 – Buddies, Friends and Penpals

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. This is the weekly post where we ask you to turn the dials back on the time machine and remember things from your childhood and beyond. Lauren and I co-author these posts and I’m up again this week. If you want to join in, it’s easy:

  • Write your own post sharing your memories and leave a pingback to this post in the comments.
  • You can use the photo above in your post to make it easier to find.
  • Tag it with #TBTMemory or #IRememberWhen.
  • If you do not wish to write your own post, feel free to tell your story in the comments below.

This week’s prompt is: Friendship

The importance of developing friendships cannot be overstated. Socialization is an important aspect of living with other humans on this big blue marble we call home. So, think back about your early friendships and relationships. Consider the following when you write:

Who was the earliest friend you remember? What drew you to this person? What kinds of things did you do together. Did you have pen pals? Have you maintained long-term friendships from childhood. Did you have autograph books? How about high school yearbooks signed by friends? What kinds of things may have made you sever friendships? Are you a friend collector – the more the better – or are you content with the intimacy of a few close friends? How does your personality (shy or outgoing) affect the friendships you develop? What is the quality you desire in a friend?

My post follows:

I have always been a shy person. Making friends was not an easy feat for me. No social butterfly here.

Growing up in our small community, all the kids were friends. We were all each other had so we had to make the best of it. I am still friendly with those still around, although I would not say we are friends. To me, a friend is the person who stays present in your life. Time, distance, and experience can make us grow closer or further apart.

I never had a pen pal but I wanted one desperately! I had great fantasies about having a friend that could tell me about faraway places and different cultures.

In school we exchanged notes which often got us in trouble with the teacher. If we were caught exchanging notes, we had to endure the punishment of reading them aloud in front of the entire classroom. We also had “slam books” which were handmade books designed for questions and answers about who we liked, our favorite foods, who we thought had the coolest clothes, etc. Ours were tame in comparison to some I have read about. We had autograph books that all our friends signed because none of us ever met ayone famous living in central Ohio.

Because we moved several times, my early friendships were often short lived. The longest relationship I have somewhat maintained is with my childhood friend – I’ll call her Candy although that is not her name. After her father passed away and my mother passed away, our parents married each other so we became step-sisters. I lived far away and our paths only crossed when I made a trip home to visit. She would eventually develop a relationship with my ex-husband which everyone thought would be the demise of our relationship. It wasn’t. I had moved on, but honestly, small towns never really allow you to move on.

My best friend in high school was Carly – also not her name. She lived down the street from me and we hung out after school, usually at my house. Everyone loved my parents I guess because our household was fairly laid back and culturally very different. All my friends loved my mother’s southern cooking. We attempted to stay in touch after I joined the Air Force, but we eventually lost touch. We did reconnect years ago and exchanged emails for a while, catching up on each other’s lives, but it did not last.

I had a small number of good friends in high school, but my best friends were those I met through band or through Civil Air Patrol. In Civil Air Patrol, we spent every Wednesday night together and several weekends a month practicing for search and recovery missions in the event of a downed or missing aircraft. We all became close.

Yearbooks were a way to leave pearls of wisdom for our friends as we each moved on from high school. I did not get to buy yearbooks because at the time my mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and there was no extra money for things like that.

After high school I joined the Air Force and made a lot of friends, but again, the military life tends to be transient. You develop friendships fast but they suddenly disappear whenever orders come down. You learn to move on.

I had a couple of people reach out after high school through classmates. We chatted a few times, but I quickly learned that by traveling some and leaving home, my world views and perspectives changed much more rapidly than those people who stayed in a small close community all of their lives.

Some of my best friends today are people I met online through various online communities. I have had the pleasure of meeting several in my travels and strangely enough, they tend to be some of the strongest relationships in my life. Perhaps because you meet knowing nothing about each other. Physical appearance does of come into play. The relationships are based on the strength of their words and shared ideas about life. We have watched our families grow up, orchestrated meetups and exchanged letters. We have mourned deeply when someone in our circle passes away.

Friendships to me are more about quality than quantity.

33 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday #17 – Buddies, Friends and Penpals”

  1. My earliest school friends in London are still friends now. I don’t see all of them, and two have since died, but I still see three of them (separately) at least once a year, and keep in touch with the others by phone, email, or cards. There are still eight of us left, sixty-two years later.

    I had two pen-pals when I was 11 years old. One was in France, and we corresponded on and off (in French) until he was called up into the army. The other was in Japan, but her letters to me were in Japanese characters, so I never knew what she was writing about! 🙂

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pete, how wonderful your friendships have endured for so long. I find myself a bit envious.

      And you had two pen pals! How fortunate. I am curious, did you write to the Japanese penpal? I wonder if she had the same difficulty with your letters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pen pals were arranged through my senior school. The girl was the same age (11) and lived in Osaka. She wanted to learn English, so I wrote to her in English. But she never used any English in her replies, only the word ‘Goodbye’ at the end. Her name was Yui. I addressed her letters in English , and as far as I know she always received them. She also wrote my name and address in English, which I presume she copied from paperwork given to her by her school. I no longer have those letters, but would still like to know what she wrote to me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I found that friends I made in the army were some of the strongest relationships I have had. Although they may be transient you had to bond quickly and you very soon came to rely on each other, even to the extent that your lives depended on each other. I left home at the age of 16 and when I eventually left the army we settled in an area well away from where we had been born and grown up so we have no life continuity as those do who are born, grow up, live and work, and die all within a small area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand how that could be, Peter. Thankfully, I was never in any combat situations and my tour was short lived. In the military, we build a new kind of family I think. 16 is a tender age to be on your own.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading your memories of friends. It’s so special to have maintained a friendship over many years. Mine has been the same. And being close friends in school, sometimes don’t last after we graduate and we go our separate ways, though sometimes we connect a little through social media. Being my husband was career military, we did move around a lot. We made friends fast and enjoyed our time, but also knowing we’d all move on. Thanks for the topic, Maggie! 🙂

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    1. I found it interesting that most people are the same and maintain a small number of friendships. I treasure the few friends I consider close to me – it is not always easy to maintain them over the years! Thanks for reading!

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