In high school I had 3 main friends: Keith Andrews, Jim Cada, and Mike Shahan.
Keith was my oldest friend in Cedar Rapids. When we moved here in 1960 my mother took me up to Wilson Junior High to register. They assigned me to classes and the first one I went to was language arts. They were in the middle of an activity. Mrs McNeill had divided the class up into groups of about 5 or 6 people and we were to pick and practice a song. Keith was in the group I was put into. Our song was “Bingo”. B-I-N-G-O, etc. Keith was also in most of the rest of the classes I took. This lasted clear through high school.
Keith’s birthday is November 3rd and Mike Shahan’s birthday was November 4th. Keith says their mothers were in the hospital at the same time and his mom named him Keith in honor of Mike’s father Keith.
Jim was my best friend. He came to Wilson our 8th grade year. His family lived in a house just a few blocks from where we lived, on Outlook Drive. But they moved to 16th Avenue before too long.
I became interested in working in dramatics in 7th grade. Jim worked at it too. I mostly did work on the technical side of things; lighting, set building, scenery changes during the performances. Jim did that too but right off, he went for acting parts. He has been an actor all these years and has been in several movies and countless plays.
Jim’s parents were Vaclav and Marie Cada. He had a younger sister, Marie, and a younger brother, Jerry. Vaclav and Marie were from Czechoslovakia and Vaclav fought with the Czech resistance against Germany in World War II. I was told that they escaped the communists in Czechoslovakia by swimming across a river, under gunfire, while Marie was pregnant with Jim . They made their way to Sweden where Jim was born and eventually to Chicago. They moved to Cedar Rapids in about 1962.
When Karen and I got married, Jim was my logical choice to be best man. My sister Judy was Karen’s maid of honor. Later, when Jim married Suzanne Egli we took to her immediately. No matter how long it is between times when we get together, we carry on just like we’ve seen each other the week before.
I didn’t meet Mike till we were in high school. He worked on the plays too, so the 4 of us, Keith, Jim, Mike, and I hung around together. After high school Mike and I had many collegiate adventures, practically all of which shall remain unrecounted. Some things maybe should be left behind. Mike was a troubled soul. He never seemed to find peace of mind. He died of over medicating himself in 1993.
Ron or Bub as I called him, was another friend from high school, but not one of my main friends, not to hang around with as it were. He was the son of George and Betty Sheriff who lived across the street when we lived at 3023 Schaeffer Drive SW. There were 7 Sheriff children; Georgie, Ron, Cathy, Rick, Gary, Tim, and Nancy. The Sheriff family figures in many stories in their association with the Thorpe family. My mother invited them to join our church, Grace Episcopal Church. When we moved to town I became involved with the choir and serving as an acolyte or alter boy. Ron was an acolyte too and together we served as the ongoing attendants at Saturday morning mass. Doing this week in and week out, we came to be thoroughly familiar with the service and our performance was more of a drill team show. I continued to serve as an acolyte till I went to college. My choir days had long since ended when my voice broke years before.
In another adventure, Bub and I rode our bicycles to DeWitt, about 60 miles away, to visit my aunt and uncle, Ralph and Helen Thorpe. We decided to travel at 15mph and had a whole set of procedures for dealing with the sometimes heavy traffic on Highway 30. We both had speedometers, bells, and rearview mirrors. We would trade off on who took point at at regular intervals. The person in the rear kept an eye out in his rearview mirror for cars approaching from behind. When one came along, he would give a signal, 2 rings, and both of us would pull over onto the shoulder while continuing to pedal. When all the cars had passed, we got back on the pavement for a better ride. The front biker would set the pace. We made it in 4 hours like we planned but got some sunburn on our arms along the way. My uncle remedied that by lending us some long-sleeved T-shirts for the drive home. Who else but my uncle would have a long-sleeved T-shirt?
Technically, George is not a friend I had from high school, although we were still friends at that time. We met when we were in fifth grade at Moore Elementary School in Des Moines, IA. I had only known him for two years when we moved to Cedar Rapids, but we came back to Des Moines all the time for my folks to visit their friends, When that happened, I would visit George and others from my childhood, including Bob Lohr. George married his wife Kay shortly after they graduated from high school and when I started at Iowa State University I would often hitchhike down to see them and stay with them overnight. Their daughter Petra had some problems with her ears and when they took her to the University of Iowa Hospitals to have them looked at, they would often drive up to Cedar Rapids for a visit. Karen and I still see them from time to time. Most recently at our 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2019.
I had a core group of friends in high school that did not vary much across those teenage years. We had an amazing good time together doing lots of teenagerly things like attending high school sports events, having sleepovers, going to dances, shopping, and even working together at Bishop’s Cafeteria with some of them. I had a happy high school experience for the most part. I was not a member of the most popular groups but didn’t care much about that. I had several boyfriends and enjoyed dating. I liked those boys just fine but never had much angsty drama.
My best friend of all was Judy. We were as close as sisters and we each spent enough time at the other’s house that we both eventually became part of our two families. The best part was that I fell in love with my husband Butch who is her brother so now we actually ARE sisters. Judy is a very talented artist and was always drawing, painting, and creating. She is also really smart, clever, and fun to be with. She is, of course, aunt to our children and spent a lot of time with us in the early years of our marriage. My family and Butch’s family grew very close and often spent holidays and special events together. we continued to see each other all the time after Butch and I married, socializing with a common group of friends. Judy eventually married Bill who was a college administrator and the two of them moved to various parts of the country for his work. We visited them in Maine, New Orleans, and Tucson over the years. They live permanently in Maine now but we keep in close touch.
Linda Stumpff Rutherford was loads of fun to be around in high school. The two of us hung out together in our group and she, along with Judy, also worked with me at Bishop’s. There was lots of fun and hijinx during our shifts there. My mom was one of the hostesses so she often had to keep us in line. Linda was always adventurous and once, in high school our basketball team was in the state championship games. Linda convinced her parents to let her drive us all to Des Moines in her family’s car for the final games. Our parents said we could stay at my older brother’s house in Marshalltown but not in a hotel. That trip was definitely the highlight of all fun times in high school. We were delightfully free from supervision during the day and had a fun sleepover every night at my brother’s house. He and his wife were great for hosting. Later after both Linda and I were married, the two couples became close friends and socialized almost every weekend for years. Linda and Lynn eventually moved to Chicago but we visited there and maintained our friendship. When they separated, Linda moved back to CR to be near her family. The two of us picked up where we left off and enjoy getting together often. She is still great fun to be with and is game for anything!
Diana Pameticky Tharp has been my friend since 3rd grade. I started school at Taylor Elementary school in kindergarten and Diana moved to our neighborhood later. She is beautiful, smart, and funny and we became friends. She lived several blocks further away from my house than I was usually allowed to go but since the school was just a 1/2 block from my house and the center of our world, we found opportunities to play together. We stayed friends all the way through high school and beyond. Diana had a steady, serious boyfriend in high school which meant we didn’t hang out as much as some friends but we maintained a friendship through her first marriage to Dave Cronbaugh. We reconnected later when Dave passed away. Now I see her frequently in person and lately mostly through pandemic Messenger calls.
Terre Angerer Britt came to Jefferson from Catholic school and that’s how we met. It is crazy but I can’t remember how she connected with our group in high school but I do remember hanging out at football games and at my house during high school. I lost touch with her after graduation but we connected again at our 50th class reunion. She now lives in Minneapolis but still visits her mother and sister regularly here in Cedar Rapids. After the reunion we started a lunch club and Terre would drive here to join us. We planned our meetings for when she was in town. Now we meet by Messenger chats because of the pandemic. Terre has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh which is one of things I remember about her. She also shares the same political views and is great about keeping on top of the latest stories and filling us in. One funny thing is that when I was teaching, her sister Debbie lived in the College Community District where I taught. I ended up having Terre’s nephew in my class. Later Debbie became a para in my building and I enjoyed getting to know her too.
Susie Kadlec Rokarek was someone I met in junior high at Wilson. She was part of a group of six of us girls who all hung out together. Linda Stumpff, Kay Kilgore, Susie Kadlec, Donna Bedell, Judy, and me. Susie was lots of fun but often quiet and a private person. She is still like that today. After graduation we all went our separate ways but Susie became a teacher like I did and occasionally we would run into each other at various teacher meetings. She worked in the Cedar Rapids school district while I taught in the Prairie district. Linda and Susie were on the planning committee for our 50th class reunion. We all reconnected at the reunion and that’s how we started our lunch club.
I feel really grateful for these friendships that have lasted over such a long time. It is nice to be able to talk and laugh with people who share so many of the same memories. I love the time we spend together more than 50 years later!