Growing up in the sixties and seventies has given me a plethora of people and events to write about. The older I get, the better my childhood seems to have been. Remembering the struggles and good times of my parent’s generation is something I treasure. With age, I became friends with many of my parents’ friends. As I fortunately continue to age, many of that great generation have passed on.
Mama and Daddy’s friends pool expanding throughout the years. I say this to not offend anyone left out. This column is about those couples I remember hanging out with the most when I was a kid. Herbert and Kathy Johnson, James and Linda Groves, Frank and Doris Saxon, Leland and Charlotte Green, Benny and Shirley Williams, and Mickey and Carole Chastain, were those I remember the best. If you know these people, you know my folks were lucky to be associated with this bunch. They are all fine people who I owe for giving me many good memories.
Some in this group have already reaped their heavenly reward. The rest seem to still be doing well. They lost one of their members this week with the passing of Mickey Chastain. I have memories of visiting their home as a child on many occasions. Mickey and Carole have always been well thought of by those who know them. In my parents’ later years, all these couples drifted apart to a certain extent. There were fewer gatherings and less contact. The friendships remain intact. The memories will always be there if I have my right mind.
I had the opportunity this week to talk to Carole after the loss of her husband, Mickey. Unlike me, she has changed little. I knew her immediately, while it took her a second or two to figure out who I was. She was still as pretty and sweet as I remembered. She told me I had filled out a little since she last saw me. Luckily for me, I have lost about 40 pounds in the last few months. If not, she may have never recognized me.
For whatever the reason, I felt the need to tell her something. I thanked her for the many wonderful memories I have of spending time at their home when I was a child. Her daughter Tamara, and her son Michael, were a few years younger than me. But the times we spent playing outside as kids were thoughts, I will carry with me for the rest of my life. She said some things which caused my mind to churn. I asked her why she thought she and Mickey, and our families had drifted away over the years.
Carole said she believed one of the biggest reasons was technology. She told me in the days when I was a child, people had to make their own entertainment. They did not have social media to keep up with everyone. So, couples got together, with their kids. They played cards and cooked out. They did things which required very little money. The kids played outside making up games along the way. She was right. Playing outside was all we had. There were no computers or video games. We invented games to keep us busy.
A couple of years ago, I ran in to Mickey at Publix. I walked up and introduced myself. He did not readily remember me. It is very possible it was because Daddy had been gone for several years. Or, not only had I filled out. I had gotten fat. There were times I did not recognize myself when I got out of the shower. Scary I know.
I remember Mickey on the tennis courts with Daddy when I was barely old enough to walk. I remember him grilling out when we would often visit their home. You see. The Chastains were not just friends. They were family. And they are some of the kindest people I have ever known. Oftentimes, the adults would be found inside playing Rook while the kids played outside. It was a time when kids were expected to play outside. Those times were the best of my childhood.
Mickey Chastain was a kind man. His family is just as kind. I do not know that I have ever read about Mickey in the paper. He was not a man who looked for notoriety. But he was a man who was kind to everyone. It is my belief that this is the kind of person God is happy with.
Sleep well Mr. Chastain. And thank you for your kindness.