Shadow, Side-kick and Alter-ego
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Today I learned of the death of a childhood friend, Sandy Lang. Her dad was a meat cutter at Loblaws at Sheridan Plaza and, at ten, I had my first taste of grilled steak at her house. Shortly after, I had my first exposure to major household drama there, too. Her dad found a dirty utensil in the drawer and dumped the whole thing upside down making a terrible clatter as knives, forks and spoons flew everywhere. I tried to blend into the woodwork but didn’t hesitate to pick up a towel and dry as Sandy washed away the incident and restored order.
Her house on Wendel Ave. had a mud/laundry room at the back entrance and to this day I’ve thought such a sensible feature should be mandatory by law and universal in all houses. I recall sweet-smelling, warm clothes in the dryer. Another time, I remember Sandy on the floor complaining that "bunny toes," an assigned stretch for ballet class was too painful. Her mom said to try harder, stick with the job, that it would come.
Sandy and I pretended to be scientists and did a lot of experiments, mostly in my basement. We dissolved crepe paper in jars and lined them up against the basement window until a gooey mess formed. We made natural dyes from weeds and vegetables, collected grasshoppers and bugs in jars and designed costumes and armaments to dress up as famous warriors. Mom never said a word until the smell and clutter would prompt a major cleaning up. One winter we decided to make a milkshake out of newly-fallen snow until Sandy's mom dissolved a luscious-looking glassful of the white stuff and held it up to the light to reveal the debris swirling in it.
We spent summer days at the Craft House at Lincoln Park painting plaster figures and plaques. We captured pollywogs using dainty nets purloined from the aquarium at home in the soggy acres that would become Franklin School. In winter, wearing skates from Goodwill, we maneuvered the frozen, root filled puddles between the trees, or truly let fly at the ice-skating rink, sometimes after dark when it was magically lit by strings of 40-watt light bulbs. When the new Lincoln Pool was built, we suited up and trekked there daily. One morning the sky was threatening but Sandy's mom said, “keep watch overhead.” A patch of blue large enough to make a Dutchman's Britches was a sure sign the day would turn clear, she assured us. I think of that today when I see clouds dispersing.
We biked everywhere----constantly. The “Little store” near the school was a common stopping place to buy Paul’s Pies, Black Jack gum or load up on penny candy. Once, while passing the afternoon on the park's swings, we invented a gang called the BBPC or Big Black Panther’s Club. We began wearing black t-shirts and raggedy shorts to signify membership (it had two members total) in good standing. Our attempt at being “hard girls” was short-lived when school opened again and we put on pretty cotton skirts, starched, round collared blouses and cute shoes.
Friendships are special and the memories stay with us our whole lives. Today, for me, is all about Sandy. While we eventually drifted apart, she’s the same vibrant, sunny-blonde bestie I see in my mind’s eye. I want to capture that closeness and hold it/her dear. Treat yourself to a journal targeted to whatever is on your mind. Respect your intuition by finding the perfect journal at https://www.bobbin-olive.com.
If you log on to me and my sister Sue's (KE 1964) website, click "blog," and read more stories. We started this project during the lock-down in March of 2019 with Sue wanting to showcase my paintings on the cover of a single journal she was planning to publish.