Monday, July 26, 2010

Five days in, one day to go.

We'll be back in Idaho late tomorrow night.  In the meantime, we're somewhat settled in Oakdale, with a day's worth of miscellany---business and old friends from Bill's hometown.  It's obviously warm here, as every glass door entrance is steamed up. 

Things are kinda quiet around Oakdale, and that's an understatement.  Lots of empty store fronts and generally looking like tough times have hit---even to the point of seeing the main seafood restaurant shut down.

Bill and I took a spin around last night to several of his old haunts---the high school (home to the Warriors), the city pool where he worked as lifeguard, the old "rich" section where the former mayor Mr. Mowad lived.  And, yes, we passed by his former girlfriend's house.  She, by the way, and Annie are getting together in Virginia in the next few days.

We went to the Popeyes chicken house and dined on nuggets, chicken strips and cold slaw.  The server, who was receiving a lot of irritating static about the rules from her upwardly-mobile assistant manager was hanging in there doing her best to be nice to the customers.

"Be careful out on that highway," she told us.  "The storm has started, and her name is Bonnie."  Never mind that Bonnie fizzled a couple of days ago; this gal still had our best interests at heart, and I gave her a couple of dollars for a tip, just to dull the chatter she was enduring from the irritating boss man.

We had a relatively quiet night after going to see Bill and Margaret's family home, which we're hoping officially changes hands today or tomorrow.  Some last-minute obstacles still loom.

While Bill and Margaret swam in the pool, I sat on a hot curb outside (for more cell phone bars) and talked to a sad mother.  She had just learned of her best college friend's death.  Dorothy Ringlein remained a constant factor in family conversation throughout our lives.

She, Alice, Mary Jane and Mother all attended Nazareth College in Kalamazoo, Mich., and always kept in touch over the years.  Mother is the only one remaining.

Mother and Dorothy planned to bicycle across Europe after their college days back in the early 1940s.  They both made it to Europe but never on bicycles and never together.  Still, they enjoyed several visits over the years.  Dorothy worked her high school librarian career in Flint, Mich., while Mother moved West.

Dorothy and Alice first came to visit her in 1948 on a road trip, which took them through Yellowstone.  Somewhere in Mother's photo albums are pictures of them in front of the old house on Euclid---one with Dorothy holding me as a toddler.

When my younger siblings were little, Dorothy came again.  On that visit, we went on a day trip to Banff (crazy, yes but fun for sure).  At the time $14 worth of junk food all purchased by Dorothy took up a lot of space and filled a lot of tummies.  My little brother got car sick, so they also bought him some Dramamine. 

He was wired for the rest of the trip, and Dorothy thoroughly enjoyed his antics.  We had a flat tire that day also, and I remember some nice tourists from England stopping to help us change it along the highway.

My mother loved her college roommates so much that she named two of our Hereford cows after them, and my first-ever 4-H beef project was Dorothy.  She did well for me.  Every time Mother and her friend Dorothy got together, we could count on plenty of reminiscing and lots of laughing.

I also have a little pewter pitcher given to Bill and me by Dorothy for our wedding gift.  It's packed away somewhere among the boxes, and I think I need to get it out when I return home.  I'll do a keep-fill service of sweet peas in the pitcher for my mother so she can have some fragrant daily reminders of her dear friend.

Sad time for sure.  We'll all miss the Dorothy Ringlein aspect of our lives.  She was truly one fine lady, a class act and a great friend to my mother. 

~~RIP Dorothy~~

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