Friends are an important part of our daily lives. They can help decide the paths that we take and the choices me make. I love listening to old stories about families members and how they interacted with their friends. Some stories still baffle me. Uncle Denny was sharing with me yesterday about how Papaw Kell used to own a second hand shoe shop in Grundy, Virginia back during the Depression. I still don’t know why the family ever moved to Grundy. Denny will ask Tom and get back to me on that. I was trying to track down any link to any of the early Adkins in Grundy to our line. So far, the only connection I’ve found is to the family Surname of “Morgan(s).” I thinking it must have had to do with a friendship of some sort. Secondhand shoes was a good business to be in, back in the day, since you couldn’t buy a pair of new shoes. Tom was the only child to stay in Grundy, when the family moved onto Ohio. A man named Walter Benders gave my uncle Tom (nee Alfred Roscoe Adkins – he named himself Tom) a job at the local Drive-In running the projectors. He loved it then moved to another theater, I think before he took a job as the local Building Inspector. Friends in High-Places( wink-wink… a lighthearted joke)!

Papaw Kell also would haul coal from Grundy to Waverly, Ohio, for Ishmael Montgomery. I wish that I had asked about his truck, I can only imagine what it must have looked like. I hope it was a Ford. Anyway, both he and Ishmael were raised in Magoffin County, Kentucky. I’m assuming that’s how they met. I guess we could consider that Networking(insert chuckle here). Ishmael was the son of Ollie and Dennie Montgomery nee Montgomery. He married Zula Montgomery, the daughter of Greenville and Mary Elizabeth (nee Howard) Montgomery. Ishmael and Zula, together had a daughter named Flora aka Flory; their only child. Flory married and divorced my late Uncle Lee. His full name was Charles Lee Adkins, but like most people he went by his middle name. I also found that odd since most people claim to hate their middle names, but anyway, I digress. Zula died a just few short weeks after my Aunt Flory was born from Septicemia following childbirth – delivery by midwife. That was common back then. A lot of women died of what my Grandma Dorothy “Child-Bed Fever.”

Ishmael then married my late Uncle Ben Adkins’s daughter Ethel Mae Adkins aka Mae Adkins Montgomery Williams. Mae married Rodney Williams after Ishmael passed away. Mae never had any children of her own either. Uncle Ben was Papaw Kell’s older brother. Mae was from Ben’s second marriage, also brief, to Cora Howard. Cora passed away and Ben married Ethel Montgomery daughter of Bruce Montgomery and Lula Blanton. [side-note: I love the story from Mary Alice about her two Grandpa’s – Brucepa & Flempa. Her Grandma Lula had married Flem Nickell after a questionable divorce from Bruce.] They had a lot of children so my late Uncle John Lewis Adkins (Kell & Ben’s oldest brother) and his wife Loula (don’t know her maiden name) Adkins raised Mae and Mae’s brother Robert, since they had no kids of their own. It sounds a little complicated, but times were hard back then and people did what they thought was best for their kids and for family. Well, most people anyway. But had they not had that network those people may have otherwise, never met.

When you’re journaling today, don’t forget to jot down the names of your friends, old and new. Describe each one very briefly and note when and where each was a friend.

If you had a childhood boyfriend or girlfriend, note his or her name, when you were friends, and briefly, what the relationship was like.

If you ever had an imaginary friend, describe this “friend” and when, where and how they were a part of your life.

Name the people besides family and friends who were important in your life. Note their relationship with you and what made this person memorable.

Name other people or social groups you tend to hang out with.

Think of your best friend(s), where or how did you meet? What drew you together? What did you typically do together, after school, on weekends, and or during vacations?

What are your fondest memories with your friends? Did you have any secrets or secret places that you’d go? Did you ever have a fight? Did you compete? Did something happen to end the your friendship(s)?

Who else was important to you? What did they look like? How did they act? Where did you meet? What happened between you? What made them stand out? What events or occasions happened that involved them?

Were there any “hangouts” places that you tended to go be with others your age? What was it like? What type of people were generally there? What would happen?

I had a friend named Bucket Woods in elementary school. No, I’m not joking. She lived on the main drag in Trenton, Ohio at the time and we lived on the corner of Madison Ave. She lived in light green two story house. Her older sister Tina and my oldest sister Shirley were very good friends at the time. That’s about all I can remember, but I still talk about her today, so it must have meant a lot to me at the time. That’s usually how most friendship’s and marriages for that matter, start. A common bond or relationship. Sometimes, it’s easier to track somebody down through their friends than it is to call a family member. The stories are usually better too.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life