July 13, 2009
Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that more and more friends are leaving this earth? Two people that were long time friends of mine died this past two weeks and I find myself, yet again, thinking, "I cannot believe they are gone." Gen Colvin Bennett and Carl Jaynes were not the closest friends I have, but they shared some of my days, some long ago and some recent. It seems that "puff" and they were gone.
Gen, and most of Columbus might remember, ran The Little Duchess salon and beauty school, located right beneath what was Frank Imes'' downtown apartment. My relationship began with her right about the time the Beatles overtook America. Let me explain, I was lucky enough to have an appointment with her one hot summer day and so off I went (on the bus) to Main Street. My bus route "put us all out" on the side of Woolworth''s, across the street from Parker Furniture Store. Of course, I had to tool through the dime store before proceeding on to my appointment with Gen. Well, what should I find but the new Beatles album with the four mop-heads smiling at me on the shelf of Woolworth''s. I could not believe my good luck! However, short of money with only enough to get my hair done, I was in quite a dilemma. I needed to make a phone call home and quick. Mrs. Dexter Graham (Julia), Jimmy and Janice''s Mother, held court over the store and she let me call home. My Mother informed me that if I would walk down to The Little Duchess and tell Gen that I wanted the Beatles album instead of a new "do" then the decision would be mine. Well, I did and Gen "understood."
That began a lifetime of hairdos from Gen and we remained friends for years. Gen taught me all about "frosting" my hair to cover the gray (I have since given up). She gave me the best perm I have ever had. She urged me to use sunscreen back when not a soul even thought about the sun being harmful. She "worked" on my eyebrows and introduced me to waxing. All the good things about being a girl and being an independent one at that was what Gen taught me. She was chic back when we didn''t even know what that was. After all, Gen attended all of the hair shows down in Jackson and on the Mississippi coast and always brought back some great, new ideas for our slowly graying heads here in Columbus.
Another friend, Carl Jaynes, passed about a week after Gen. Although, Gen had been sick, Carl''s death hit fast and swift. Carl was older than me and it may seem the two of us wouldn''t have much in common. Well, every Monday at the junkyard, Carl came a callin''.
He and I would discuss the local news and the national news and just how people had changed so. He had been a customer of my Dad''s for years. brought his grandkids by and, as they got older, bought parts for their Honda cars. He was the Honda man; he liked to tinker with them as his "side" job. Carl didn''t like to work on any cars but Hondas. I would (or Judson, my son) always "pull-up" the Hondas at the Memphis auction so Carl could look at them on the Internet. We always had a lively discussion about was that car worth fixing or not.
I have often wondered what I would have said different last week, as Carl left, if I had only known that those would be my last words to him. I think that it is fitting that we "just don''t know" when our time is coming because I like to think that Carl and I would still be talking about the way things are if we had known. He was a good man, good father and a good Honda car fixer.
We agreed about some things and some things not but Carl always listened to me and I doubt that a Monday will come and go that I will not "look" for him to come in the door and I know I will throw away my newspapers, just wising I could show Carl another article that we could talk about.
Since my Dad died, not a day goes by that I do not wish I could just tell him something (and some days I am glad I do not have to tell what happened) and so it will be with Carl and me, I will wish for that one more discussion.
It''s the same with Gen. I will miss her birthday cards, I am due one in August, she never missed a year. I will miss that "best perm ever" because I have never had another one and I will think about her when I slather on that sunscreen in the mornings, getting ready to go "out" as she called it.
I believe that today, in heaven, that the Hondas are running more smoothly and the angel''s hair has never looked so good. Losing Gen and Carl is just a reminder to me how quickly life can change but yet how memories keep us going. I was lucky enough to know them both and so, I consider myself lucky enough.
Carol Littlejohn is an occasional contributor to The Dispatch. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org