Fortunately, I have had that best friend from both my childhood and who has remained as such to now almost sixty years later.
Eddie Stout didn't live far from me...actually only a few blocks away... But that short distance that separated us included one the tallest hills, Wampler Ave., in the world, .....well, our world at least... seeing that at our young age our world pretty much was just about the distance we could pedal our bicycles. Even still, the "hill" always stood in my way whenever I ventured out to Eddie's and my meeting place, Loos School.
Yes, those were the days back then. Eddie and I, even though at different schools and one school year separating us...when I say one school year it's because Eddie was considered a child wonder back in those days and he was able to skip a school year even though we were born in the same year. I knew a lot of kids who went backwards a year and even two years, but Eddie is the only person I have ever known in my life who skipped a year.
Eddie and I honed our baseball skills together usually on a roughened dirt field behind Loos School and then later on down at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio. Some years together on the same team and some times as competitors. We learned about music and rock and roll with Eddie introducing me to the Beatles before anyone else in the neighborhood had any idea who they were.
As we moved into high school our friendship strengthened. We learned to trust each other, depend on each other and learned skills, traits and knowledge that would make both of us successes in our lives. Sure, we picked up a bad habit or two along the way but that added to our cache of wisdom later in life when we had to make life decisions.
And now, after all of these years gone by, Eddie and I still communicate often several times a week commenting on whatever catches our eye. Every message, every email, every comment always leaves me laughing and I hope I do the same for him.
And then today, Eddie sends me a package out of the clear blue just because, well, just because he is Eddie. A truly good soul. A truly great father, husband and especially a wonderful grandfather. And most important to me...a truly great friend.
He had seen an item on Facebook that I had posted a few years back that had some video of me as a young Skeeter boy rowing a little boat at a little lake in Michigan that we used to go to every year. Klinger Lake was outside of Sturgis and Eddie had remembered going to that same lake years later to the wedding of a nephew and he commented as such.
And now today, I receive a ball cap from Eddie that says, Klinger Lake. Maybe in some people's eyes that might not mean so much. But to me it means the world.
Thank you, my friend.