There are a lot of “slack specials” going on around town lately, and thank the Lord that there are because we’re all just scraping by in this particular time of the year. I, like most of you, am juggling my funds and looking for a break. Last week, it happened.
An old boyhood pal of mine from upstate New York drove 2,500 miles in three days in a forest green Dodge Caravan, handed me the keys and said, “This is yours.” What?
Mark Ingraham and I grew up together in the 1950s when our fathers were friends and co-workers at the state of New York Public Health Service. From age 8 to 13, we did everything together, from sports and camping to discovering girls and laughing—mainly laughing. My family and I left abruptly one day and except for two occasions in high school when I was in Washington, D.C., later on, we hadn’t seen each other in 60 years. 60!
He had discovered me on the Internet when I was working for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area visitor center. We corresponded via email for a while, visited briefly two years ago and then, last week, he appeared at my cabin. “This is yours. The 1984 Cadillac Coupe DeVille will never make it through another winter. This has front-wheel drive.” Wow.
He moved in for five days and nights and all we did was laugh, not missing a beat from our youth. We went out to dinner every night and stayed up swapping tales. It seems that in the path crossing in the forest, he had always selected the correct one and I, the other. He had done well in real estate law and with investments, and now lived lavishly near Princeton, N.J., with his wife of 22 years, Carolyn, and an adopted daughter from China named Laura, age 16. They had just purchased a brand new van and decided that I must have their 1999 model. Whoopee!
It was amazing how nothing had changed between us for all those 60 years. We were still the same best buds. We still liked the same things and had the same views on life. We still lived to laugh. We were just as close as ever.
He left on Delta Airlines on Monday and it was difficult to see him go. We had just gotten started again and once again, we parted ways. I believe I’ll take that van to New Jersey next year so that we can continue our evaluations of life. I’m sure we missed something when he was here but I can’t think of what it could have been. What a “slack special” for the old doctor. Thank you, Mark.
Nice talking to you.
Mr. Millspaugh still lives in a log cabin.