Pudy and Jat

Auto correct does not like the names used in the title of the blog and yet another grammar error will soon follow. The grammar police won’t like that one, either.

I grew up on Yuma Trail in Bisbee, Arizona, right at the edge of town in what was known as the “Warren” neighborhood. The houses were all on the south side of Yuma Trail. The north side consisted of fenced pasture land. We called it “up across the road”. I have had several editors and countless teachers tell me that using two prepositions in a row is frowned upon, but in this case, those two words both apply because that pasture land was both across the road and up a hill. So take that you grammatical nit-pickers you!

Pasture land in southern Arizona is also open desert which means there were a few desert-dwelling creatures in the near neighborhood. One summer day when I was out in the yard bare-foot, I spotted a rattlesnake sunning itself on the walkway on the west side of the house. I went screaming inside, sounding the alarm. When Janice, my oldest sister, came out to check, the snake had disappeared, and she always maintained that I had made it up. I hadn’t. I saw that snake as plain as day, and I always assumed that he had been as startled by my presence as I had been by his and he had taken pains to exit the scene, most likely by darting under the fence that separated our yard from Mr. and Mrs. Corbett’s place next door.

Bisbee is built on hills which means that there are some straight streets and plenty of crooked ones. When I was in fourth grade, a new family named McAdams moved into our neighborhood. Theirs was a family of four—Thelma and Mac, and their two kids Pat and Ted. Pat and I quickly became fast friends. In terms of distance their house on Campbell Avenue (one of Bisbee’s straight streets) was probably less than a block from ours as the crow flies but a lot farther if you followed the streets. I usually used a shortcut, following a path that took me between our yard and the Corbett’s garage and house, across Cole Avenue, past Harriett Smith’s house on the corner, and then into Pat’s back yard. Believe me, that became a well-worn path. It was fine during the daytime, but whenever I had to travel that route at night, I always remembered that slumbering rattlesnake and held my breath.

As I said, Pat and I became fast friends. There were seven kids in our house and two in theirs. Pat had a bedroom ALL TO HERSELF!!! We spent hours playing with paper dolls—especially Queen Elizabeth Coronation paper dolls—on the carpeted floor of her bedroom. (There were no carpeted floors in our house—only rag-rugs that had to be shaken by hand every Saturday morning.) Since Queen Elizabeth is coming up on her Diamond Jubilee year, I guess Pat’s and my friendship is too. By the way, a couple of years ago for my birthday, Pat sent me a duplicate of that coronation paper doll book. It’s one of my treasures.

From fourth grade on, we attended the same schools—Greenway Elementary and Bisbee High School. In those eight years, however, we were in the same class only three times. The first of those was in fifth grade. Miss Stammer, a recent and reluctant exile from Chicago, was our teacher. Pat and I were not exactly angelic. Each day when we went home for lunch, we returned munching garlic pickles. I’m sure we reeked all afternoon. We also used folded clothes hangers to pass notes back and forth. Amazingly enough we never got in trouble. Miss Stammer was far too focused on one of the boys in our class, Floyd Lucero, who was always in trouble with her from the moment she caught sight of him each morning.

Once Pat and I got to Bisbee High, we walked to school together every day and ate lunch together in the cafeteria, but the first time we had a class together was in Mrs. Riggins’s Journalism 1 class during our junior year. Then, our senior year, once we were appointed co-editors of the school paper, the Copper Chronicle, we were together again for Journalism 2. Being editors meant we did a lot of work. We learned to count the letters to write headlines. We edited the articles the Journalism 1 students submitted. We had to do all the layout for the paper and then copyedit the galleys once they came back from the print shop. We also wrote a column for each edition. All of that made for a lot of late night trips up that scary path from Pat’s house to mine.

This week on a local news broadcast a very young female reporter, someone in her twenties, was oohing and ahhing about a mama goose swimming in a local lake with her baby “ducklings.” I’m familiar with that old saying “if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, etc,” but these were NOT ducks they were geese—and baby geese are, unbeknownst to said reported, known as ‘goslings.” I was muttering about that under my breath, and not in a nice way, when I happened to remember that in Pat’s and my Thanksgiving column we wrote about a turkey being “born” as opposed to “hatched.” So put a plug in it, lady. You weren’t all that smart at that age, either!

The Copper Chronicle was published monthly. For the April issue that year, our April Fool’s column was written by Pudy and Jat. A little over a month later, we graduated from BHS with the class of 1962—sixty years ago almost to the day! How time flies!

And during all the years in between, with a pause or two along the way, Pat and I have remained in touch through good times and bad, despite the fact that we live in opposite corners of the country—with her in Florida and me in Washington State. A little over a year ago, Pat suffered a major stroke while coming back from running errands. She managed to get inside the house where she lay on the kitchen floor for almost twenty-four hours before she was finally able to drag herself into the bedroom and pull her landline phone off the night stand so she could summon help. She has since made a remarkable recovery. But driving a car is no longer in her wheelhouse.

So why am I writing this today? Because today is Pat McAdams Hall’s 78th birthday! Remember that song we learned to sing in Brownies?

Make new friends
But keep the old.
One is silver
And the other gold.

My friendship with Pat has been all gold all the time.

A couple of months ago, while talking on the phone, Pat brought me up short and mentioned that not only was she about to turn 78, so was I. During the Pandemic I evidently stopped counting and stayed marching in place at age 76 for two years in a row. So happy 78th, Jat, from your old friend Pudy.

And in case any of my Joanna Brady fans are interested, I used Pat’s house on Campbell Avenue as opposed to mine on Yuma Trail as the home where Joanna Brady grew up. (And just like that I ended that sentence with a preposition. Mrs. Riggins would not be pleased!)