I was thinking about an old friend yesterday who is now deceased so I thought I'd write some memories down. She was such a character!
One of my first memories of Cheri Pardee was in the 3rd grade. She was in Haines for a while and then her family left. I was crushed. I was really morose for a while because she was my best friend although I don’t have any specific memories of her until she came back. One day I got home from school and my mom was ironing. She sent me into the bedroom off the kitchen for some hangers and as I was walking back Cheri jumped out from behind a chair and scared the crap out of me. My best friend was back. She and my mom got a real kick out of that trick! Cheri was a very precocious child and my mom was a stern and serious lady....I know she came to love Cheri but she certainly tested her resolve a few times. She knew Cheri didn’t have many rules to follow and no one seemed to know or care when she was away from home. I seem to remember my mom being quite relieved when Cheri and her family left town so she was being quite a good sport to aid in Cheri’s antics upon her return.
Sometime around then Cheri got this new blue bike with a banana seat and streamers coming out of the handle bars. It was really sparkly and she was very proud of that bike. She would come up to our house and my brother Tom, being the typical older brother, would take off on her bike. We had a figure-eight road around our house and to this day I can see it.......Tom riding full speed ahead with Cheri running after him screaming “Missssssssussss Hendersoooooon, Tom won’t give me my bike back!”
One time we both had the same straw purse except one was white and one was a natural straw color. We had an argument about whose dad was smarter and somehow, to prove our point we dropped our new, beloved purses in the pond behind the barn.
I also credit her for teaching me to sing Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. She had spent some time in Hawaii and we sang “Mele Kalikimaka” with great gusto.
All through our years at school we had this big competition of who had the nicest handwriting. It's hysterical to think of now because mine has deteriorated through the computer age. So, better late than never, I officially surrender my self declared winner status!
We went to Rainbow Glacier camp together in the summer after 4th grade. When we got there we were assigned bunk beds and she was assigned the coveted top bunk. On the last night we were told to switch for the night and she pitched a huge fit! I teased her about that for years. I mean to say, she had a screaming, crying, major meltdown about having to sleep in the bottom bunk for one night.
Cheri was always given way more money than any of us. She always had the best snacks too. One day she came to school with a huge bag of cheese puffs....the size of which I could only dream of. As was the tradition at the time, classmates would ask for “bites”. I When I asked for “bites” one time she took one cheese puff out of the bag and broke it in half and handed it to me.
She was a very busy little girl and never took the time to blow her nose. I remember on several occasions she would be laughing or otherwise occupied and suddenly this endless supply of snot would spew out of her nose. We’d all go scrambling for the Kleenix. You’d think after this happened a few times she’d learn but I have memories of this happening throughout our childhood.
In high school we both took typing. We loved our typing teacher, Mrs. Pryse. She was a very classy lady and something of an enigma to us. Cheri was a big talker and Mrs. Pryse had this poster in room with a drawing of some little cartoon kids and the warning below read “busy hands and a busy mouth rarely go together!”........we always got such a kick out that because it was quintessential Cheri. Mrs. Pryse eventually gave her the poster. She also called her “loquacious” and it took us forever to find the meaning of that. To this day I think of Cheri as being synonymous with loquacious.
For May Day one year we made baskets full of treats, and as traditions states, we would knock on doors and run away, leaving the basket on the porch. We got to her house and kept knocking surreptitiously but her stepmother would never answer. Eva was the quietest, strangest lady I had ever met. She wanted nothing to do with Cheri and she acted as though she didn’t exist. Years later, Cheri told me she suffered from depression and after she got treatment she and Cheri enjoyed a very cordial relationship but Cheri was an adult by then. She was a great baker though and I loved going to Cheri’s house because they always had fresh brownies or chocolate chip cookies.
Cheri & I went to Girl State together the summer after our junior year. We stayed at a college campus there. It was great fun, I always enjoyed going places with her because I was very shy and Cheri would make all these friends for the both of us. Our last night there we snuck off campus with my roommate for the week who had a car and we drove all around Anchorage. When she drove us back we pulled up and it looked like people were looking for us. All I could think of was the disgrace we would bring to our parents and the American Legion in Haines and I was absolutely terrified. I remember getting out of that car and my knees were literally knocking together as I walked. It turned out no one ever knew we were gone....but that’s the kind of trouble I’d get into with Cheri!!
Cheri was exactly two weeks older than me. Those fourteen days in July were the longest of the year growing up. She loved to rub it in, particularly as the milestones got more significant....16, 18, 21. Then somewhere along the line I started getting her back...for two weeks I’d be YOUNGER than her! I tried to torment her to the appropriate level but it figures that she got the last laugh....now she will be forever 48 while I, God willing, keep having those birthdays.