Friday, April 22, 2016
PALS, REALLY GOOD PALS
In February of 1987 my pal Jerry Russom died. He was only 51, way too young for sure! He was taken swiftly by a rare and terminal neurological disorder, leaving a wife, two teenage daughters, his folks, his sister Patsy and a passel of friends.
Until Jerry and I headed off to different colleges, we had shared three years of intensive work in our high school journalism department. I had been in classes with him through junior high school but it wasn't until meeting again as sophomores at Long Beach Poly High in 1951 that our friendship really jelled. In our senior year of Poly each of us held the position of Editor of the weekly school newspaper "High Life" for a semester. The picture below is from our yearbook.
It is certainly true that one can have a "best friend" of the other sex, for Jerry and I were inseparable, especially the last two years. Early on we had tried dating, and that just wasn't in the cards for us. But truly, my joys of high school happened because Jerry and I were together constantly, both in school and after school. In the summers, many evenings a bunch of our journalism classmates got together at my house in a backyard patio my dad had built so his "girls" would have a safe place to hang out – and each night we tried to solve the problems, big and small, of our world. Or we would go to Jerry's house where his mom and dad (and his little sister) always sat in with us while we laughed ourselves silly over all the nonsensical thing that teenagers think about.
Jerry and I kept in touch throughout our lives, mainly with little notes now and then. The last time I saw him was when I was in San Francisco in the mid-1980s. I dropped by his public relations business downtown. We had a good chat about our lives and once again shared that special feeling of being pals forever.
Interestingly, several years later when word of his death came down to Long Beach, I received a couple of sympathy cards from old friends who remembered our friendship – and who knew I would feel his death very personally. I did.
In my estimation, Jerry is definitely not an Immortal NOBODY, but I figure he would laugh like old times if he knew that I was putting him in that category here. He doesn't need me for posthumous prestige, for sure. He "made it" himself – but it makes me feel good to know he won't be forgotten.