Mark was a close friend even before we were born. My mother was pregnant with me, her first child. Mark’s mom, Esther, was an experienced mom pregnant with her third child. They met at the local store, Peterson’s Grocery, on second street, about three blocks from the Pink House. That store is where my mother, nineteen years old, probably learned the important things about getting ready to have a baby.
Mark and I went to the same grade school and high school. We became very close friends during those years. We had the same teachers, friends and experiences for years. His phone number was 252-3024, somehow that number comes to mind right away as I write this. He had two older sisters, Joanie and Susie. They seemed so much older then. They may have been in senior high when we were in grade school.
They lived in rented housing and moved several times, always in the same quadrant of town as I lived in. No matter where they lived Esther always welcomed me with a smile and cookies. Mark and I enjoyed a lot of the same things, science, radios, music, reading, and whatever it is that young boys do.
They threw parties for us in junior high; overnight pizza parties! They would cook up a couple of pizzas. Mark , our buddy John and I would stay up ’till late, talking and playing games. His parents always had board games on hand for us. That and records. They even had a piano! A favorite pastime was to go sledding in the winter. (Well, not really sledding, but who wants to say cardboarding?) Schwartz’s was always the home of choice to go to afterwards because they would have hot chocolate and cookies waiting. After one particularly long winter event at “Cardboard Hill” we stood my frozen jeans up over the hot air register in their living room and watched them thaw out.
His parents were wonderful people, and remained friends even after we graduated from college. Judy and I would stop over to their apartment for cookies and milk now and then. It was sad when they were gone as they were a good reason to visit Jamestown now and then.
When I was hunting for a job out of college, I was stranded at the Minneapolis airport and had to call Mark for a place to stay. He was the prototype hippie, living in a really run down apartment in a “bad” part of town. His car was an old VW Microbus. One of his favorite pastimes was to drive around picking up hitchhikers! Would you like to try that today?
Mark and I don’t see each other much any more, he doesn’t travel now that the grand kids in North Dakota have moved on. And they live in Arizona, where we haven’t been. The occasional Facebook or email message seems to be enough to keep in touch. I do look forward to the day when we can spend some time together again. I would like to share some stories. He could probably correct many of the things I’ve remembered in this story.
Just for the fun of it, this might be one of the songs Mark and I listened to in my room. I owned the 45, but must have thrown it out. The “B” side was the same recording, backwards. (They’re Coming to Take Me Away)