Good friends stay a part of you forever. The little Murdo Girl has had the good fortune of being able to call so many, her friend. One of the best lessons we can learn in life is, “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.”
I think it’s good to make new friends. There was a really good one right under my nose, and I didn’t even know it. We’ve been in the same class since first grade, but we never did much together until now. We played Jacks a lot in 4th grade, and we were both good at tetherball, so we had fun competing with each other, but we didn’t spend time together after school. I know part of the reason we got to be better friends this year, is because I moved to the Motel, and Marlene lives just up the street from us.
My friend’s name is Marlene Rada. Earl Rada is Marlene’s brother. He’s the one Billy rode to California with. Marlene’s Mom and Dad are Ruth and Shorty. Marlene is the youngest in her family. She has one older sister, Jean, and three older brothers, Dwayne, Earl, and Allen.
I love going to Marlene’s house. I have to tell you about one time, when I was over there for supper. We were getting ready to eat and Mrs. Rada was making chili. I was watching Marlene’s Dad cut up a dill pickle and spread it all around his plate. Then he poured chili on top of it. I had never seen anyone eat chili like that, so I tried it. I thought it was really good. While we were eating, they started talking about Allen and one of his brother’s getting really mad at each other. I can’t remember if it was Earl, or Dwayne, but he threw a fork, and it stuck on top of Allen’s head…boyoyoying! He wasn’t hurt, so now everyone can laugh about it. I can just imagine the look on everyone’s face, especially Allen’s.
Mrs. Rada is such a good Mom. She never gets mad, or tells her kids they can’t have someone spend the night or eat there. She has a wringer washing machine on her front porch. I love to watch her wash clothes. She has a separate tub to rinse them, before she wrings them out and hangs them on the line to dry.
I started trimming my own hair, since I decided to wear it longer again. Mrs. Rada likes it, so I started trimming her hair too. One day when I was leaving to go to the Rada’s, Mom asked me where I was going. I said,”I’m going to cut Mrs. Rada’s hair.”
Mom said, “You don’t know how to cut hair.”
I just said, “I know, but Mrs. Rada thinks I can, and she loves the haircuts I give her.” It’s like when I started going to Harold Lathrop’s Barbershop. I liked the way he cut my hair, and what else matters?
Sometimes, Marlene and I go out to Bob and Ione Webb’s farm. Marlene’s cousins, Pat and Judy live there. We spend the night and do everything, but sleep. One time, we tried to iron my hair to make it straight. It was not a good idea.
When, Mom gets tired of renting out rooms at the Motel, she has Marlene and I do it. We like to make it fun. We do different things, and try not to laugh. We have a contest to see who can make the other one lose it in front of the tourists. We do things like talk with a foreign or hillbilly accent. “Hellooo, kin ah hep ya?” That one cracks me up every time. Once I hid behind the door, where Marlene could see me, but the tourist she was talking to couldn’t. I made funny faces at her, which almost got her to laugh.
Marlene came up with the best one. When the tourists come in, we’re usually sitting down. Marlene gets up and acts like she trips over something, and falls down on the floor. Then, she just gets up and talks to the tourist like nothing ever happened. I don’t know how she does it without laughing, but she does. I always have to run to the back, because I’m laughing so hard.
Sometimes the tourists think we charge too much, so they go look around, then come back. If we’re helping another tourist, we have to keep talking the same way, which might be different from how we talked the first time. They look puzzled, but don’t ever say anything. Every now and then, they laugh a little.
I’m laughing right now, just thinking about it, as I finish this paper for the lady.
There are two new kids in our class this year. One is Karen Ferdig, and the other one is Don Edwards. I hear Don’s family bought the Red Top Motel. I already know that Karen is going to be friends with Marlene and me.
P.S. Marlene was a great friend. She was smart, funny and fun. One summer, we spent one night at my house, and the next at the Rada’s. We didn’t spend one day apart the entire summer. I don’t remember having disagreements. We were both pretty easy to get along with. The Rada’s let me stay with them for a whole month during the school year, while my parents were in California.
My only regret, and it’s a big one, is that I didn’t stay in closer touch with Marlene after I left Murdo.
In order to have a friend, it’s true… you have to do your part, and be a friend.