January 25, 2014 10:58:02 PM
I found Margaret Peterson. Well, I did not find her myself, but I have a reader who did!
I wrote a column several weeks ago, before the Christmas holidays, remembering a long-lost childhood playmate and just wondering whatever had become of her. I had no realistic hope of ever finding out.
I do understand that by the miracles of technology all sorts of information, including the whereabouts of people, are accessible to us now. I just have not tried to learn how to do such things myself. However, I was not taking into account the skills of others, for instance those of Thomas Locke Mayfield, who has roots in Columbus, takes the local newspaper, and both possesses and uses the expertise necessary to locate people. To be honest, I did not even know anyone like that would read my column. He lives in Winston-Salem, N. C., after all. He himself has written two books about Columbus and the Prairie. He had made contact with me when he used, for one of his books, information from one of my earlier columns about the Lee High School band parading through town on Friday nights, leading students and football fans to the Magnolia Bowl for games. Yet I still did not know he would read the column about Margaret Peterson.
But he did. And what is more, he located her, talked to her, and sent me her phone number and address! I tell you, it was a great surprise, a real Christmas gift at a time when it is especially good to make contact with friends of long standing. (I guess I have gotten a little sensitive about using the term "old" friends.)
Margaret Peterson McClusky lives in Lynnwood, Wash. Her husband was, like mine, a lawyer; but she had married an Army man instead of a hometown fellow, and they had had tours of duty all over the world. She seemed every bit as glad to hear my voice as I was to hear hers. Sometimes I get dreadfully frustrated trying to use the amazing electronic tools now at our disposal, but when someone else provides the information, it can be terrific.
Everybody, I guess, develops some physical shortcomings as we age, and Margaret's vision is no longer sharp; therefore she enlisted the help of a daughter to write me a Christmas card. I found her daughter, Kathleen, charming as she wrote her spin on some of the memories her mother and I shared.
I was tickled that Margaret remembered things exactly as I did, mentioning the circus parades that passed by my grandparents' house on the way to the fairgrounds and my pony, once a circus pony, that broke loose from his tether and fell in behind the parade.
Kathleen wrote, "The time in which you both lived was a storybook childhood. It only exists in movies now, but it was real; it was magic."
That set me to wondering. In retrospect it really does seem to me that, in spite of the Great Depression, we children did grow up in the best of times. We enjoyed a carefree childhood I don't think children have today. We rode our bicycles or roller-skated all over town with freedom we would consider extraordinary today.
In saying that, I am aware of the risk we take in picturing our childhood as too idyllic, simply because childhood at any time is often, with luck, carefree. Recently I was talking to a young man at least a generation younger than I am. He recalls his childhood as being the best of times also. Maybe the good vibes come, not from the history of the time, but from the time in our personal history.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.