The Long Friendship of Marge and Rita

November 4, 2019

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist
This is the 1940’s Main Street Marge and Rita would have known very well.

This fall brought us the blessings of family. September brought us a visit from cousins Frank and Ray of Midland for a catch-up over coffee. October brought sweet cousin Paula Nevins and granddaughter Sophie from Kentucky, back for an autumn visit. They visited in the spring as well and caught northern Michigan leaves both coming and going this year.

Last week brought a couple of mini reunions with Toledo cousins. Pat Berry, his newly wed son Andy and son-in-law Luke came to their ancestral hunting grounds south of Marion to hone bow-hunting skills. Andy bagged a nice 8-pt. The Gardener, Only Son and I joined them for dinner Saturday night at the Horseshoe.

Earlier in the week Pat’s sister, Barb, drove their mom, my dear, sweet, 86-year-old aunt, Rita LaGoe Berry, to Marion. They were here for the day, journeying from Toledo, Ohio for the funeral of my aunt’s longest, dearest and best friend Marjorie Salisbury Gladu. This was a tremendously emotional day for the gathering of old school friends, and both bitter and sweet for best friends.

Marjorie Salisbury and Rita LaGoe met at Kindergarten in the fall of 1938 at Marion, Michigan and they became fast friends, as little girls do. Marge lived on North Case St., Rita at Pickard St. and Fifth St., and Sarah Foster, their other good friend, a block east at Carland St. and Fifth. Weekends and summers found the girls together, at work and play. Marge and Rita were papergirls, delivering a daily paper on assigned routes in Marion.

In 1940’s Marion, when they were schoolgirls the small public library was located in the old Village Hall by the river, the Sun Theater was a new and grand place where the movie cost 15c. VanDeWarker’s soda fountain was a hot spot and favorite stop after school. Musical events were held in the Bowl each summer and sledding in the winter. The August 7 Homecoming was greatly anticipated and you could ride the train to Cadillac or Clare. Marge and Rita graduated with the MHS Class of 1951, still best friends forever.

Marge and Rita’s MHS sweethearts, Gary and Jerry became their husbands and partners. Life led each couple in different directions and away from Marion. The Gladu’s spent their first 20 years, in the military, living in several states, as Gary was stationed. They returned to Marion and family to stay in 1971. The young Dr. Jerry and Rita Berry went to Toledo, Ohio, where a full life and large family lay before them.  

The best friends and couples got together when time and circumstance permitted. U of M Football beckoned the couples to Ann Arbor. Though not frequent, their visits felt as though no years had passed and for a short while, Marge and Rita were little girls – teens – young wives again, no matter their age. Distance may have separated them but the joy and love of a good friend, the mail and a telephone, could not. “Best friends forever” is not a new thing and there has never been a more sparkling example of friendship than the 80+ years of Marge and Rita.

You know how blessed you are if you have such a true and enduring friendship in your life. I do and I’m going to send greetings to my ‘friend since Kindergarten’ friend. I’ve been remiss far too long and life is way too short.

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