We grew up in Emigration Ward together; her father was the handsomest bishop I ever had. Her mother was my Gleaner teacher.
The first time I went to her house I was enthralled with her storybook doll collection, a whole glass-fronted cupboard of them. These were dolls in ethnic costumes with glossy hair on their little heads. I was raised in an orphanage by my parents and never had a doll with real hair. I'm sure I petted those dolls and raised their taffeta skirts to see their little lace slips and panties. Mary Ellen is the only girl I ever knew who actually received a pony for her birthday. I never saw the pony, personally; it was kept at a ranch? A farm? Behind Roosevelt Junior High School? But I have it on good authority that that pony was real. (We weren't allowed animals in the orphanage).
I remember when she got contact lenses. I remember firesides at her house on McClelland Street. I remember her prom dresses, her boyfriends, her college dorm room, all the Oldsmobiles, cruising State Street, looking through Vogue magazines up in her bedroom, the one with the big window that faced the street. (She lived on the same street as Tom and they even dated once in their early teens). I remember when she got engaged and married. I was a bridesmaid. She had a biting wit and a wonderful horse laugh. She still does.
We have kept in touch over the years, even though we haven't lived in the same city for forty- six years but for the last few weeks we have gotten closer to being those girls of 1958-59. Those girly girls. We've gone to movies, to dinners, to church, to the temple, a concert, watched American Idol and posed for the ever entertaining Photo Booth. She held the blinds, so that I could climb through the window of my vacation house after I left the keys home. She introduced me to Sprinkles cupcakes (see below): all of this after I arrived unannounced like a new zit on her forehead.
The older I get the more I appreciate having a friend who knew me when I was young, knew my parents, knew my husband when he was young, shared a ward, a neighborhood a time in history. Thank you, Mary Ellen.
There's a converted garage for rent behind her house on Balboa Island. If it keeps snowing in Utah, I may be able to talk Tom into moving. It'll be just like the orphanage.