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Hey Y’all: Pickle

What is in a name? A rose called by another name shall smell as sweet. A friend called Pickle, will be a friend forever.

Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

My best friend growing up was named Dotti. Somewhere along the way, I started calling her Pickle after a cartoon character named Pickle-puss. Neither of know when it started and we aren’t really sure the Pickle-puss carton was even part of it. I was the one who ate dill pickles all the time. She ate peanut butter. But Pickle she became and Pickle she remains.

Our parents knew each other before we were born. I am one year and 12 days older than she. We have been friends for over 70 years. We were both only children. The happiest day of my life was when Pickle’s family moved into the house next door to ours.

On her first day of Kindergarten at H. O. Burgess Elementary school, we were put on the bus together. Daddy told me, “You hold Dotti’s hand and don’t let go.” I took her to her classroom and turned her over to Mrs. Rainey, my former kindergarten teacher. Pickle tells me that I have been holding her hand ever since.

Close as sisters and then we grew apart. She moved to Texas and raised a family. We didn’t talk or write much for many years. Truly, I wish I had held her hand through all the years. I missed her always, but life does happen. She came back to Georgia to care for her mother. We reconnected. That old bond was still there. You just can’t let go of someone who helped save worms from drowning in the ditch water.

My “mama” and her “Mother” were thick as thieves, too. Our daddies were friends first and then the two families just blended. We trick-or-treated together every Halloween for years and years. Mama and Mother standing on the street talking while we ran to houses and scarfed up candy and homemade popcorn balls.

Each Christmas Eve we would plan to call the other as soon as we awoke during the night. We were going to share the news of our Santa Claus goodies. We never did. I don’t know when it occurred to use that if we called the other’s house our parents would wake up. Duh….

Everyone needs a fiend with whom you have played in the dirt together. We made houses using pine straw in the fields behind us. We made up our own games, learned the Twist together, and had more secrets than you could count. The statute of limitations will never run out on some of those. We will go to our graves with some of those memories.

Pickles’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandson live in Texas. Her husband died this past year. Although she is very active in her community of Maysville, she has no family here. Well, this surrogate sister some 40 miles away, but I understand. Her oldest son called her with the news of a house not far from him was for sale. She made a bid and got it. Pickle is going home to Texas. That’s where she needs to be.

We will again be divided by long distance, but this time our bond will be kept strong. We will hold hands forever.

A southern humorist, Marlene is the 2020 Georgia Independent Author of the Year for Life is Hard, Soften It with Laughter and 2021 GIAYA for A Place with a Past. Marlene is available for speaking engagements. You may reach her through her website