The Last of These Tight-Knit KY Friends–My Eight ‘Parents’–Has Passed Away
If you were take me to task on my earliest memory of my parents and their circle of friends as a collective, I'd have a hard time. Obviously, I could come up with random visits to their homes or vacations, but the earliest? Who knows?
My parents, Jim and Sue Brister, and three other couples were close friends beginning in the 1950s. Well, Dad and Harold went back farther than any of them; they were first cousins. And, with the exception of Harold and his wife, Betty, they all met at Hall Street Baptist Church nearly seven decades ago. The rest was history.
From left to right...Kenny & Myrl Blomquist, Mom & Dad, Perry & Wanda Murphy, and Harold & Betty Anderson. My sister and I called them our "eight parents" because they always ran around together. And the reason I'm writing this story now is because the last of them, Perry, just passed away this week. Anytime we come to the "end of an era," it's a weird feeling. And this fits the category.
'CHOSEN FAMILY' IS A NEW TERM, NOT A NEW CONCEPT
This will be very "stream of consciousness" as memories will probably surface as I write and then I'll just relate them here. For example, I can eat a package of peanut butter and crackers and vividly remember sitting on beaches at Kentucky Lake with the Murphys.
I can see any given ad for Disney World--who doesn't get a hundred of THOSE a week--and easily remember vacations with the Murphys and the Blomquists. Every once in a while, I'll go to Google Earth and zero in on Jekyll Island GA; all four couples and our families rented a cottage there for a week in 1977. In 1981, a smaller group returned.
Inside jokes were the order of the day at most get-togethers. You see, Dad also went way back with Perry and Kenny; they were all friends before they all got married. So one would say something and another would laugh and hardly any of the rest of us would get it.
DID YOUR PARENTS HAVE A TIGHT CIRCLE OF FRIENDS?
What's also a lot of fun is how all us kids (all of whom are at least 55 years old now) can enjoy reminiscing on the rare occasions that we see each other. My oldest friend in the world, Carol, was the youngest daughter of Kenny & Myrl. I got into a lot of trouble on Jekyll Island for jumping out and scaring her in the cottage's dark hallway. I had to sit at the table until bedtime.
I remember Harold & Betty living in the most different homes of all the couples. That's when they actually WERE living in Owensboro. At times, they also lived in Louisville and Birmingham AL.
I remember being at the Murphy's house and someone told what would now be called a "dad joke" that went something like this:
"Did you hear about the nightclub where the music was so bad, a waiter dropped a tray of glasses and everyone got up to dance?" What made that admittedly lame joke so funny was Wanda's response. "Why, were they barefoot?" It was so mystifying, everyone in the room got dead quiet for, I don't know, five seconds maybe. And then we all roared with laughter.
GOLF AND SCRABBLE AND SO MANY OTHER MEMORIES
I'm remembering all the golf trips Dad, Perry, and sometimes Harold would take. I remember all the Scrabble games Mom, Myrl, and Betty played. And let me tell you, I got in on a few of those games, and those ladies were CUTTHROAT.
And now we've gotten the news that Perry has passed away. He's the last of what I call the Elite Eight (a nod to my love of college basketball) and it is truly the end of an era.
I can't say it's an unusual circumstance for four couples to be friends as long as they were. I have no way of knowing any such statistics, if they exist. I just know I couldn't let what is truly a personal momentous occasion pass without commemorating it here.