Old friends keep reappearing

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interesting how people from the past pop back into our lives reminding us of other times and experiences. In the last month or so, I happened to be in front of the television when a segment called “Absolutely Alabama” ran.

It features stories about unique people and places. The host works for a station in Birmingham, and the first time I saw him I thought there was something about his eyes that reminded me of someone.

Then I heard his name, Fred Hunter.

“Could that be the same Fred Hunter who lived on East Park Avenue when I was growing up?” I asked the empty air in my living room. “Surely, that is not a real common name.”

A few days later I mentioned this to a friend who also lived on Park Avenue when I was growing up and he said, yes he thought maybe it was the same person. Well, this weekend I saw another Absolutely Alabama story and decided to see if this was indeed the boy, now all grown up, whom I knew from long ago.

So, I went online to the television station’s website and read his bio. It said he was born in Ft. Payne and somewhere in the back of my mind that rang a bell.

“I think I remember that Fred Hunter’s family was from Ft. Payne,” I said. “Now what are the odds of there being two people with that name from Ft. Payne?”

I found his email address and shot off a message asking if by chance he ever lived in Opp, Ala. While I waited for a response, my mind went off on a journey revisiting the time when the Fred of my childhood lived up the street.

His house was the big white one on the corner that was rental property for most of my childhood. A sweet elderly lady owned it, and for a time lived in the front part, while she rented out the back.

I’m not sure if she was there when Fred and his family occupied the house. Anyway, Fred’s dad managed the big dime store on Covington Avenue, one of my favorite Saturday afternoon haunts.

While I was in the midst of mentally walking through the store, smelling the combination of polished wood floors and popcorn popping beside the candy counter, I got an email message. Indeed the person on television was the Fred who lived in that house on the corner.

He said he still kept in touch with a few folks from Opp and remembered my family and me.

I called my mother and told her about my discovery. That set us both to reminiscing, recalling the weekend cookouts, times when Fred’s parents joined my parents for a game of cards while kids ran around playing under the lights strung around our yard. I smiled remembering the simplicity and innocence of those days when being a grownup seemed light-years away and we imagined what we might become someday.

Funny the paths we travel from child to adulthood. If all those years ago, someone said to us, “Fred one day you will be on television, Nancy will see you and remember this night with a smile.” I’m guessing the words “you are crazy” might be what came out of our mouths.

Just goes to show you can’t predict where life is going to take you. And you never know when someone from long ago will pop back into your life and give you the gift of remembering a time when living was about summer cookouts, backyard friends and wondering what the future held for us.