The Hoffelt’s granddaughter, Linda, in the middle with their dog, Taffy and her “rent-a-friends” … Phoebe Ann on the right and me on the left.
When I was little, our second-door neighbors were the Hoffelts. When I look back now at what I considered the very old Mr. and Mrs. Hoffelt, I would guess they were in their late 50’s. Sigh.
Anyway, Mrs. Hoffelt didn’t work and her husband was a pharmacist who worked long hours at his drug store so she had alot of free time. Mrs. Hoffelt did enjoy tending the flowers in her yard, but she always found a little time almost every day for her other favorite “hobby” — sitting in the porch swing on her wonderful big awning-covered front porch for an hour or two, just watching the world go by … and talking to us little kids in the neighborhood when we would stop by. Sometimes she would give us kool-aid and cookies, so she was definitely a popular stop with us, and besides, when you’re a little kid, it’s just fun to have an adult actually carry on a conversation with you. (Mama did tell me years later that she always had a little fear that the reason Mrs. Hoffelt enjoyed talking to at least me so much was because I probably told her everything I heard and that happened at our house! I always was a “talker”.)
Mr. and Mrs. Hoffelt only had one child, an adult daughter. Their daughter and her husband, the Fletcher’s, were both professors at the University of Missouri. And they only had one daughter too — the much adored, only child, only grandchild, Linda. (I’m telling you these names because wouldn’t it be fun if I heard from Linda or Phoebe Ann?)
In the summer, Linda would come to spend a week with Mr. and Mrs. Hoffelt, and as soon as they knew which week it would be, Mrs. Hoffelt would be sure to tell the mothers in the neighborhood when Linda would be there. I suppose that was so that the mamas could clear their daughters’ “social calendars” because Linda would need playmates — and we were them!
When I call us “rent-a-friends” I, of course, don’t mean we were paid. But, we did get alot of perks. For that week, we were treated much like we were Mrs. Hoffelt’s granddaughters too! So, believe me, I never complained and, in fact, looked forward to Linda’s yearly visits.
Because Linda only came for a week-long stay once a year and because, when she was there, Mrs. Hoffelt made sure that we got to do lots of things, it was a fun time. There were other kids in the neighborhood who played with us too, but much of the time it was Linda, Phoebe Ann and me. I think that was probably because Phoebe Ann and I were the two who lived the closest.
At the kiddie pool. I remember begging Mama to buy me a two-piece bathing suit so that I could be just like the other two. You can see how much success I had, but apparently had fun anyway.
And, I think the picture of us in high heels with our cowgirl outfits probably illustrates how quickly we must have moved from one play activity to another — “Does this feather boa make me look fat?” to “Round ‘um up, cowgirl!” in the blink of an eye!
Roller skating. Notice my bare feet? I guess when you go barefooted most of the summer, you wouldn’t hesitate to strap roller skates on your bare feet, but it seems like that would hurt!
One time we actually went to a for-real roller skating rink.
Another time either Linda or Mrs. H came up with the idea of the two of us sleeping in a tent in the Hoffelt’s back yard. By the way, this was the only night in my whole life that I remember “camping” in a tent, and, just my guess here, real campers would probably say that “camping” in a backyard with a grandma holding your hand most of the night is still not camping!
In our PJ’s. Notice the sun is still shining brightly? We probably put them on about noon! Mrs. Hoffelt served us supper on this little table in the tent. (See her watching protectively from the door of the tent?)
The tent was just big enough for a cot on either side of the door, with (luckily) a chair-width space between. I don’t really remember exactly how that night went, but Linda and I must have been afraid after we had been left alone in the tent and it actually got dark! The reason I’m pretty sure of that is because I DO remember Mrs. Hoffelt bringing a chair out sometime during the night and spending the rest of the night sitting between our two cots so that we wouldn’t be afraid (and would maybe stop crying?) and would get some sleep. I’m sure that night wasn’t much fun for her, and I’m also pretty sure that’s the reason it is the only time I remember us “camping out” in her back yard.
Since this picture had the year 1955 on the back of it, and my family moved to Indiana in January of ’56, this was probably taken the last time Linda and I spent time together.
I don’t like to think that my friendship has ever been “for rent”, and I like to think that Linda and I would have been friends if we had met in any case. But, I have to say it was awfully easy to be her “rent-a-friend” for a week each year, when Mrs. Hoffelt made it so much fun!