Our elementary gang spent many days exploring the woods with streams, sticks, trails, talks, and a few firecrackers.  Three boys moved away from our “web” of friends when their parents moved to Ashland, KY as dad became a VP of Ashland Oil.  (I knew about coal in Kentucky, but oil?)  Soon enough, four sixth graders traveled to visit the friends we missed.

Our gang’s first and last train ride went from Louisville to Ashland and we had fun roaming the cars.  The reunited rabble rousers spent our last weekend together playing pool, listening to music, laughing at jokes, and roaming Ashland.  Sleep was not prevalent. 

I first heard the 45-rpm single “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf, on the brothers’ new stereo.  I experienced the album “Tea for the Tillerman” by Cat Stevens the same night.  I didn’t buy the single, but I got the vinyl album that I’m streaming now.  Whenever I hear those songs, I’m transported on a magic carpet to that basement with my friends.  Music evokes such powerful memories.

The night before our departure, the man of the house informed us that the Ashland Oil Company Learjet was going to fly empty to Louisville in order bring businessmen back.  He’d arranged for us to take the Learjet rather than the train back home.  The day we buckled in, the pilot said to us, “Boys, you’re in charge of this flight.  I’ll take off when you let me know you’re ready.  Just say the word; it’s your flight.”  I’d never felt so much power….. or privilege.   

Following that final weekend, we started going to different schools that led to different lives.  The three in Ashland weren’t the only ones who moved away from each other.  Maybe that’s why the closing lines of the 1986 movie “Stand by Me” still haunt me: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.  Jesus, does anyone?” 

Who were your friends when you were 12?  What songs transport you to those times?  What memories does the music evoke?  What are you thankful for?

PS – I am grateful that Facebook has brought those friends virtually back to my life; who would have guessed that? 

2 thoughts on “Stand by Me

  1. I wonder if 12 is a magic age in the life of kids. Looking back, that was a great year of more freedom than when I was riding my new bike at 7, but nothing compared to 15 when my best friend got her drivers license and freedom was again redefined. Your parent sanctioned adventures sound very freeing and something to revel in all through your life!

    1. I heard a speaker talk about generations entitled something like: Who you are is what you were when you were 12. he divided groups into what was going on in the world when you were 12. so 12 was a magic number to him!

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