Coping: The Value of Long-Term Friends

As you should know, I don’t have a lot of friends.  But the ones I have seem to stick around a long time.  Take Gaye at  We’ve been pals for 40-some-years.

It’s been an even-longer friendship with my buddy the major up in Gig Harbor, WA.  We measure longer in decades.

We were introduced by our parents when we were 3-1/2 years old.  No, he wasn’t in the Army yet.

His mom was a hair-dresser (yeah, back when people had their hair done, they ironed shirts, wore shoes that could be polished – and took pride in outward appearances).  Since my mom was of the “stay at home” sort. they worked out a baby-sitting deal.  That was mid 1952.  We’ve been pals ever since…

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When you’re friends with someone that long (65-years) strange things are bound to happen.  Beyond sending aerial bombs up over the city suspended by polyethylene dry cleaning bag balloons with candles.  And besides being chased by hobos…well, that kind of thing.  Cream of Mushroom Soup and friend cheese sandwiches…the whole deal.




You have to sit in front of your computer!  Tell me when you’re there because I want to hear your reaction…”

So I did…

He explained it was a very special present he was emailing so I would need to sit there until it came in and I opened it.

And suddenly, there they were:  Some of my oldest business cards!

Boy,  was that a flash-back!!!

The story of these cards is amazing:  I had given the electronics card to the major when my friend Dick and I started an electronics troubleshooting business.  We were both young First Class Commercial Radiotelephone licensees.  Hot soldering irons of our day.

Dick was 3-1/2 years order.  But by then, he’d lived on a sailboat in Hawaii and ran a late-night jazz show on one of the AM stations.  Originated in one of the Honolulu hotels.

Back on the mainland, by way of Dutch Harbor fishing boat radio work, he’d done exceptionally well selling real estate. Just old enough to get licensed. He did everything to the nines.  Especially his 4-1000 (tube) linear amplifier.  When he was on, he owned the 80-meter band.

To this day, I would kill for that 4,000 volt 1.5 Amp power supply.  Just awesome.

One day after closing on a home sale, he showed up at the folk’s place in a new’ish 1964 Thunderbird.  In it was a Hallicrafters SR-160 with a perfectly tuned mobile antenna on the rear bumper.

We hadn’t gotten much business, (any) for Northronix, so he said “I got a line on a couple of job openings at ComSat over in Eastern Washington…interested?

Hell yeah.

Brewster, Washington was where ComSat had a big ground stations.  And they were looking for techs.

So we showed up there to interview…but no one seemed to be around, except a few techs.  In those days you were never sure where hiring took place.  Once upon a time it was at the job site.  But the telephone company had led the way to centralizing HR functions.  It was a fun trip, though.

So we turned around and headed back to Seattle.  Worked a lot of 75-meter ham radio SSB on the return trip.  It was fall and the band was amazingly good.  None of that aggravating in-city noise.

Neither one of us heard back from ComSat, though.  Their loss.  Northtronix was shelved a few weeks later and we put our tech skills out to the highest bidders.

I ended up at West Coast Airlines as a journeyman/whiz R&E mechanic. Highest scores ever on F-27 cabin pressure and a/c systems.

Dick headed to Alaska and out on DEW Line.  Within four months, I was up north, too,  running Nike missile coms around Fairbanks and then Anchorage.

Last I heard, Dick had retired after a long career as  chief electronics officer on containerships for one of the big lines.  I have no idea how many times he crossed the pond, but the 90-on, 90-off schedule suits some people.  So do the salaries – which (back in the day) were amazing.

Surprising how Morse Code competency kept hiring prices up there.

Looking back at events led to the idea that everyone has several shots at success in Life.

I know Elaine had lots of modeling opportunities when younger, but just never caught the right break.  Me?  More chances that I deserve, no question.

What was the difference in our tracks?  Well, Elaine’s family was fractured…so she didn’t have a “landing pad” or a bowl of vegetable-meatball soup waiting.  She was on her own, regardless.  That’s changes how you take risks, I think.

Having a super-strong family, made one hell of a difference for me.  I felt that I could take on anything – fail – and it would still be OK.  By the time I was 19 (and up in Alaska) I was making significantly more than my dad who had worked through the depths of the Great Depression in a cigar store before joining the Navy during WW II.

Yet he was proud of my passing him by on the income scale.  That’s a measure of exceptional parenting – when the parent’s don’t mind the kids setting new high-water income marks for the family.

Those two business card brought it all back.  And amazingly, the card packed around by my friend of now 65-years, has done more traveling than me.

The Major got involved in ROTC at Seattle University – and the card went with him when he moved to the dorm  building.  Then he was off to grad school at the University of Chicago.  Magna something. Card was along for the ride.

After the cap & gown he was all over the place as a  “second Louie.”  Working up the food chain, duty stations like Germany came and went…the card with him the whole while.

Then a tour in Korea, My old card got closer to the DMZ than I’ve been.  A turn through The Presidio in San Francisco, all the time two of my earliest cards were carefully lugged around with his gear.

I’d sent him another business card later on – this one from 1975 or so, when I was known by my “radio name…”

I left the station in June of ’83 after 13-years on 1300 AM.  It was more than enough.

You may have noticed that shortly after my departure, AM radio collapsed.  The old time DJ’s…us old denizens of the newsroom?  Poof.  Today’s kids, idiots, shock jocks, automation, and sports-blather have been poor replacements.  Shortwave radio’s basically gone, too…down the road of .mp3s.

Is there a point to this mosey down memory lane to start the week?  Oh, hell yeah!

There are millions of “acquaintances” out there.  But damn few real, honest-to-God friends.  I’m feeling a bit inadequate this morning, because I haven’t saved business cards of my friends along the way.  Not even my own, save a few from radio days.

It’s hard to imagine a business card kicking around the planet for more than 50 years then returning.

Terms like “enduring quality of friendship” seem inadequate.  I am honored and blessed.

When find people who are worth it?  Hang onto them for dear life itself because that’s one of the few measures of personal worth and success that you can take with you when you die.

Unlike federal reserve notes.

About LinkedIn

A note to VR Guru Pete M. out in L.A. (as well as a few others) who are trying to get me to friend them on Linked-In:

Here’s the problem:  I have no clue how to combine the email with the email…so if I haven’t responded to your invite, particularly Pete, it’s nothing personal.  Just a lack of mental acuity when comes to figuring out how to two LinkedIn accounts.

(I tried clicking my heels three times, but that just hurt.)

I figure if there are two accounts, some government agency will put me on a watch list as a possible domestic terrorist at worst, or a potential nutjob at best.

They should already know the word possible isn’t necessary.

Cat Training

Never, never give a cat a chance to train you, or they will.

It was cold this weekend down here (down to 31F overnight) so we let Zeus the Cat stay in the house.

The good news is he doesn’t poop or pee in the house.

The bad news is he wants to talk about it at 4:30 AM.

Elaine could hardly suppress her mirth.

You know, you’ve got the cat adjusted to when you wake up and start fussing about.  He doesn’t knowo about Sunday mornings.  So how’re you going to train him to Standard Time next week?”

I’ll be waking her up at 3:30 AM with my answer…or maybe not.  Since that could result in both me and Zeus being put out.

Write when you get rich,

6 thoughts on “Coping: The Value of Long-Term Friends”

  1. The sad part of growing old (87) is outlasting your long time best friend. The new ones don’t match up. Enjoy them while you can.

  2. As Polonius said, “…Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel”

  3. boy can I relate.. I have very few friends.Mostly because I am a sociable person just not a social one. .
    but those I have I have had many decades..
    Brings back memories..

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