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Childhood Chums
by Bob Valleau
11/25/09
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For some of us, there are things from our childhood we would rather forget. For others, there are memories that we would like to relive. I don't know if I want to relive skinned knees, bee stings, and childhood diseases, but there is one thing I wish I could have saved from my childhood in the 1960s: the friendship of my childhood chum, Rusty.

As I recall, Rusty was a gawky, red-haired boy who always got into trouble. Let me rephrase that. He was a gawky, red-haired boy who always got me into trouble. There were many times that I was on the receiving end of my parents' wrath after doing something Rusty wanted me to do -- start fights with other neighborhood kids; smoke cigarettes that I stole from my dad; or skip school to play in the nearby woods.

Even though Rusty was troublesome, he was always there. He was loyal -- a faithful friend. Was he a pest? Most of the time. Did he make me angry? Many times. Yet, we stuck together like glue. We were pals, friends, buddies forever . . . until I moved away to another state.

I had often wondered about Rusty over the years after we had lost contact with each other. Decades passed and then one day, shortly before I celebrated my 50th birthday, I received an e-mail from somebody named Charles. It was Rusty. Charles was his real name, but we never called him that.

I was shocked! Somehow Rusty had tracked me down through the Internet. Good and bad memories flooded my mind. Did he want to tell me he was sorry for getting me into trouble as kids? Did he want to get together now and cause more trouble? Neither of these. All he wanted to do was wish me a Happy Birthday.

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