Happy to be a Rent-a-Friend!


Me, Phoebe Ann and Linda 002x   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.

Me, Phoebe Ann and Linda 001xx     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.

Cowgirl Wanna-bees zoom

Cowgirls Feet zoom   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!

  Me and Lindax    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!  

Me, Phoebe Ann and Linda 005x   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! 

Camping out at Mrs Hoffelts   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.

    Me and Linda 001x   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!

12 Responses to Happy to be a Rent-a-Friend!

  1. That is a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it.
    I hope you hear from her again, then you could add some more photos to this wonderful collection x

  2. Hilary says:

    Sandra, I so enjoyed this. There’s such a nostalgic feel to those black and white summer friendships, and you were just as cute as a button. And how cute a name is Phoebe Ann!

    Kids these days have the luxury of being able to stay in touch no matter where the family may move. They can find each other on Facebook or MSN the very next day and continue communicating for as long as they please. Maybe you can find your friends out there that way if you choose.

    Someday I’ll have to find and scan a photo of my sister from back when we were kids. I think the two of you looked somewhat alike.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory. Your childhood stories are the best.

  3. Sandra says:

    Danielle — Wouldn’t that be fun? If I do, you KNOW I’ll post about it!

    Hilary — I’m so glad you enjoyed this story. It really is fun to do stories like this and know that not only friends like you have enjoyed them but future generations of my family will enjoy them too!

    My mother would be delighted that I’m using some of alllll those (60 albums) pictures she took over the years on my blog. 🙂

  4. Dina says:

    I love the photo of you girls on rollerskates with the puppy. That picture evokes a feeling of what every little girl’s childhood should be like.

  5. Beth says:

    I love this story, and these photos! The clothing alone tells a story–and what FUN clothes little girls wore in those days! It is really neat how many great memories you have, just from that one week each summer.

    • Sandra says:

      Beth — And, how thankful I am now that my mother was always taking pictures. It really helps the memory when you have pictures to remind you!

      Yes, when I look at these I realize that the clothes were cute. I especially like Linda’s little, it looks like, one-piece romper in the rollerskating picture of her, Taffy and me.

  6. lynn says:

    Sandra, I love reading your stories and seeing the old black and white photos you find to accompany them. You must have your photos quite organized to be able to do these posts. I sure hope you hear from your old friend Linda. Wouldn’t THAT be something!

    And I LOVE all the outfits, the cute little hairdos . . . you guys were stylin’!

  7. Sandra says:

    Lynn — I’m glad you enjoyed the story and pictures. No, I’m not particularly organized about them — some of mine are in albums and some are loose in boxes. But I do have MANY of them because my mother was a FREQUENT picture taker. My sister has Mama’s SIXTY picture albums! If I started borrowing those albums and doing stories based on those pictures, I would have plenty of story fodder FOREVER!! 🙂

  8. humour says:

    Trs bon article, merci

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