Jim Jaillet, Bill Gallagher, and Al Penta call themselves the three musketeers. They met in fifth grade and remained best friends through high school. This is the first time in 14 years they’ve all been together. We met for a long lunch at the Skagit County Food Co-op in Mt. Vernon. Talk about timely, everyone worried about arriving on time, traffic was heavy, Al was coming from Monroe, Bill from his business meeting in Van Couver, Jim and I from La Conner, and somehow we met in the parking lot, having all arrived at the same time.
Jim and I have spent time with Al, and time with Bill, but not together. We are, as they say, old farts now, and much of the talk focused on aging with the conclusion that none of us feel “old”, just older. And, a promise not to let another 14 years go by before another reunion. They all attended school in Revere, MA. We last met with Gallagher in New Hampshire, last summer, and Al, in Monroe, last fall. I love listening to these guys reminisce. The stories just reel out, …”do you remember when we went to school and there were only the two of us in class because it was a big Jewish Holiday and we were the only Christians..?” And, “..how many miles have you ridden that bike, Al?” “About 100,000 miles since I started seriously riding. I try for 5,000 miles a year.” He is so amazing and will probably outlive all of us.
Bill showed us a recent picture of his mother at 99 years old. She’ll be 100 on November 14th. The whole family will go to Florida for a big birthday party. She gave up smoking at 81, but still drives, and does her own shopping and housework.
We all talked to Bill’s wife Loretta, on the phone. She’s had some health problems but is doing better. Al’s girlfriend, Kim, had a last minute crisis at work, and couldn’t come. She is set to retire about the first of the year. I’m very thankful to them for inspiring Jim to go to Cuba, which we have planned for Oct. 2015. Bill said he’d like to go, just to see the old cars.
They talked about another close school friend, Dolly and her partner Arthur. They were celebrating Arthur’s birthday out of town when a tornado went through Revere, the first in recorded history. It took off part of her roof, broke all the windows, smashed lamps and a backyard shed disappeared and two, giant trees in her back yard felled like twigs. It swiped two more houses beyond hers then stopped and wheeled through another section of town before disappearing. Dolly is so dramatic, I can’t wait to hear the story from her personally. Dolly’s house was THEE meeting place when they were teenagers. Watching Elvis’s first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s show, from the waist up. And, so much more. Fun years.
And, all too soon, it was time to say good-bye with a promise to meet again as soon as possible. Al will travel to Revere in September. We are so glad Bill had a business trip to the West Coast to make this reunion possible. The most important things in life, family and friends. We are thankful and fortunate to have both.