Reminiscing with girls from Ames

Jerry Gervase Central Coasting

Posted: 09/25/2011 01:51:26 AM PDT

Updated: 09/25/2011 01:51:27 AM PDT

Confession: I like chick flicks. It began when my mother took me to see “Now Voyager” with Bette Davis and Paul Henreid when I was 6. The sexy cigarette scene is a classic. Henreid puts two cigarettes in his mouth, lights them both, then hands one to Bette Davis. Years later, as a teenage Lothario in training, I tried to duplicate the feat and burned the inside of a nostril.

The movie’s last line has become one of the most memorable in movie history. “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

“The Way We Were” and “Beaches” top out my favorite chick-flick list. Once, at a dinner party, I sat next to Iris Ranier Dart, the author of “Beaches.” I don’t think she believed me when I told her I would have been great in the Bette Midler part in the movie.

I am reading a chick book, “The Girls from Ames.” It traces the lives of 11 women who met when they were children in Ames, Iowa. Now in their 40s, they have remained steadfast friends, closer to each other than they are to family. Long-term friendships are of particular interest to me. Except for family, I’ve maintained a relationship with my college roommate longer than I have with anyone else.

This is not a story as dramatic and filled with the psycho-social significance of “The Girls from Ames.” More than 50 years ago I struck up a conversation with a guy standing in line to register for classes. We formed a bond that has been unbroken for more than half a century.

Following our time in school, we never lived closer than a thousand miles from each other. Distance doesn’t matter. We are connected in a way that precludes seeing each other. Nothing is too crazy or foolish to make us laugh. We’re not judgmental. We offer support when needed and advice only when asked for. We never tire of sharing our memories

During our first semester we met two girls, Mary and Barbara, who became friends and a part of our campus lives. How quickly things can change! My roommate left school and soon after was flying jets in Vietnam. I was married with a child on the way before graduation. Over the years we tried to trace the girls, but we never knew their married names. Recently, our school’s online alumni magazine began offering a search engine with maiden names. I got a hit on Barbara. I tracked her to Florida, and she was able to put me in touch with Mary.

The duration of the phone conversations I had with each of the two old friends stretched beyond what I thought possible. Distance and time shrunk exponentially as we compacted decades into minutes.

I know that time can erase the sharp edges of memory. Sometimes that’s a good thing. However, reconnecting with Mary and Barbara added immeasurably to the memories of when I stood on the threshold of adulthood, the beginning of a time when I would never live at home again. There is a deeply satisfying comfort in recounting shared memories. Sometimes we can comprehend who we are by getting in touch with who we were … and the way we were.

Jerry Gervase is a columnist for The Herald. He can be reached at


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One Response to Reminiscing with girls from Ames

  1. Phyllis Shane says:

    Cute & clever……Just like you!

    Happy New Year Jerry!


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