The Old Geezer: Friends for life!

Not sure what brought the subject of this article to mind, but it did set me off on a big nostalgia trip. It could be the internet which is both a blessing and a problem in that along with good things you find there are negative opinions about anything you can imagine.

The Old Geezer, Walt Trandum
The Old Geezer, Walt Trandum

Most legs of my life have been tied back to previous experiences where I met people or picked up some particular skills. I was kind of a late bloomer in that I started high school just 5’2″ and about 100 lbs. That meant that I had to be a little quick with the words when threatened with any kind of mayhem. Those negotiating skills became very valuable later in life.

Most of the girls in our class were bigger than me so I didn’t have a girl friend. That gave me the time to become the water boy for the schools football and basket ball teams. Our basketball team won the State Championship and it was a thrilling experience. That brought about lots of after school activities and kept me out of trouble.

A great deal of my time was spent working with the Boy Scouts where I talked my way into being a staff member at summer camp on Hood Canal and allowed me to make friends from all over the State.

One of those Boy Scout leaders was responsible for me being interested in becoming a Submarine sailor and I had some wonderful challenges and experiences with many years in the Naval Reserve and a couple of them on active duty during the Korean War. Those swimming lessons when I was a Boy Scout came in handy as I became a submarine swimmer and found out how much stamina I had.

Another boyhood experience was playing football on a Boy’s Club team in north Seattle. We were mostly guys who weren’t big enough for High school ball, but we were actually pretty good. One of those players became a neighbor many years later when we were raising our families.

I was having a tough time making a living selling cars and thought maybe I should try something else. I had been doing pretty well selling the Renault Dauphine which was a competitor for the German Beetle. I even won a trip to France with all expenses covered.

Unfortunately while I was there the American small cars came on the scene and those French cars were no longer selling and I just did a google search where I found out they are known as one of the fifty worse cars in history. A chance meeting with that friend who was one of those Boy’s Club football players, brought about my eventual job in the telephone business.

He happened to know the fellow who was managing the company employment office and arranged for me to join them for lunch one day.We talked about various departments and where I might find something I could do for a living. None of us ever thought that I would get a job and end up as a manager in various parts of the business.

A sad part of old age is the losing of all those friends you met along the way. From a senior class in high school that had several hundred students just five of them showed up to a recent reunion. I still have annuals with pictures of all of us young people. I am surprised when I look through them of how many I really didn’t know.

I do know that several us eventually lived here in Oregon and probably one of the largest coincidence was when two us ended up on the City Council here in Wheeler. While I was just a little squirt he was a big shot in high school, but I was the Mayor on this end of our acquaintance.

Maybe the best part of all these memories is counting the numbers of those old friends who spent their lives making things better for others. One of my Boy Scout friends ended up being a three term Governor in Washington. Another Scouting friend who got me interested in submarines, retired as a Rear Admiral in the Navy and a Supreme Court Judge.

The good thing is that I did have the chance to tell both of those individuals about the positive influence they had on my life and a little bit about the good causes I have been privileged to work with over the years. I think it was my mother who told me at an early time in my life, that you are often judged by the company you keep. I guess I can say that I was pretty darn lucky!