Dear Incoming Freshman: Your New Roommate is Diana, from Davenport, Iowa

That was the note I received in August of 1966, as I was about to head off to college in Denver.

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I sank in my chair, wondering what a prepette from Delaware could possibly have in common with a hayseed from Iowa. Would she have bib overalls on? Would she talk about her corn fields or know how to yell suuuue-eeeee to pigs?

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Well folks, was I ever wrong. Way wrong. About meeting a girl from Iowa. And about Iowa itself.

As I planned in my mind to tell the hick I envisioned my Iowan college roommate to be that I’d rather a single room, Diana enters, beautiful and all smiles.
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She arrived in her groovy Mustang convertible, carrying tons of pieces of matched luggage. Come to find out that the closest she’s come to a farm is on a county fair hayride and from the first day, we became fast friends, inseparable friends, laugh-til-it-aches friends, and best of all, friends still today, Forty-Six years later.

Our room was pretty big by dorm standards and we each decorated our side with posters and photos. Not so many books! If you look closely at the left side of the room, you’ll see that Diana had a photo of her high school boyfriend on the window sill, the man she would marry after graduation and with whom she has shared a fabulous marriage for over 40 years.
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This is how we looked much of the time – a perk of being at a woman’s college – throw on a coat and run to class. Curlers? No comb? No problem!
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But there were times when we cleaned up, usually on Friday’s as we drove to the University of Denver for fraternity parties. [No photos of that, thankfully!!] And yes, I did put a skirt on before I went out!
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As the years passed, I found myself looking forward to my twice-yearly travels to Davenport. Diana and her husband Tom settled back to their roots there after living in California and Maryland while Tom served his country in the Army in the early 1970s.

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Was that mustache Army approved Tom?

One time driving the 15-hour journey alone from Martha’s Vineyard, I had a flat tire at 3am in Gary, Indiana. This was back in the 1970s because I remember I had a Jeep Wagoneer which had the spare tire under the carriage. No cell phones then and no one to call, I stopped and prayed a bit that someone nice would stop. A trucker did. He struggled getting the spare off because all the salt air of living on Chappy caused the bolts holding the spare to rust, but he changed my tire, refused to take any money, and I went on my way. Would I do that again today? Heck no. From then on, I opted to fly, into the Quad-Cities Airport, all two runways, trying to forget the few awful white-knuckle flights on Albatross Air’s twin-prop planes. Now it’s the Quad Cities INTERNATIONAL airport, with United and American flying full-fledged jets. Yes, jets land in Iowa.

I quickly and happily became an Iowan, not by actual residence, but in heart and soul. Loving the change of pace from the east coast. Loving the scenery. Loving all the people I met. I know my way around as if I had lived there all these years.

I’ve watched the Mississippi flood, more than once.
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I captured a photo of the Forest Grove one-room schoolhouse before a group formed to save and restore it.
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I envied the land and life Iowa farmers enjoyed.
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I even deeming myself local enough to run The Bix, the seven-mile all-uphill road race named after famous local jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.
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Most of all I’ve loved sharing everyday Iowa life with Diana as she and Tom raised two extraordinary boys in the same neighborhood of Davenport both of them knew in the 1950s. Times weren’t always simple for either of us, but no matter where our conversation left off (in the days way before email or free long distance calling plans), we managed to pick it up again, once at the kitchen table gabbing over a slice (or two) of chocolate silk pie made by the locally famous Village Inn.

Tom and Diana enjoy life to the fullest, almost finished building a perfect retirement cabin in North Carolina for themselves to get away from those long cold Iowa winters and to have a place for the kids and grand-kids to romp. We even convinced them to create The EOS Suite, so happily, Mr. EOS and I find ourselves adding another state to our regular visiting loops. By the way guys, Christmas there this year works for us.
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This is a very long and round-about way of wishing my dear friend Diana a Happy 65th Birthday this weekend. Three cheers to knowing what friendship is all about and putting up with me for all these years, not to mention teaching me so much about the Iowa that has been your home for so many of those 65 years!

I love you dearly.

PS: Diana, if you notice your birthday cake (made by Tom, his first-ever!!!) is strangely shaped, thank Lucy who decided to beat you to the taste test!!
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Lucy, doing hard-time. Offense: Cake Nibbling
Lucy, doing hard-time. Offense: Cake Nibbling

32 thoughts on “Dear Incoming Freshman: Your New Roommate is Diana, from Davenport, Iowa

  1. Happy Birthday Diana! What a fun way to celebrate her birthday and more importantly, your long friendship. The college photos had me on the floor laughing, not at you, but with you. I went to a woman’s college too and remember the No Grooming weekdays.

    EOS, even though you and I only know each other a little bit, the first day we met I instantly felt welcomed. You have such a deep heart and a true sense of friendship. I am sure Diana would say she’s also lucky to have you in her life.

    One of your best stories.

  2. Happy Birthday, Diana!

    EOS – one of your best ever. Nice that you two have been great friends for so many years. Thanks for explaining the reason for those Iowa trips.

  3. I was born and raised in Iowa too so I really appreciate this story. It’s a great state and I try and get back there once a year to visit my family still there. The Village Inn pies are awesome!
    Nice story about friendship.

  4. I don’t even know you and I can tell what a fabulous friend you’d be. Your love of life, family, and friendship comes through loud and clear in all your writing, this post no exception.

    Happy Birthday Diana. Hope Lucy is out on good behavior. She’s adorable.

  5. How nice to put a smiling face and sparking eyes to your daily words. What a joyous tale of friendship. Congrats and Happy Birthday Diana.

  6. So endearing a story. Women are lucky who have such long-lasting friendships that stand the test of time, husbands, children, careers, and living in different time zones.
    Happy Birthday Diana.

  7. What a wonderful story and a wonderful tribute to your friendship!

    P.S. I went to college (in the 70s) at a place that had just gone coed, and the boys were still very much in the habit of “going down the road” to girls’ schools to meet girls to date. Part of me really envied those girls; they had ALL WEEK to run around in sweats and sneakers, with no makeup and greasy hair slapped up in a ponytail, until the weekend, when they’d arrive en masse at my U, all dolled up and demure. Meanwhile, we the coeds knew that if we stepped out in greasy hair mode for even ONE afternoon, we’d run into every boy we ever even remotely thought was cute, and we’d wither with humiliation. I guess the grass is always greener ….

  8. Imagine my surprise to wake up to see the best birthday present of all time… and just when you are at an age when you try to ignore b-days. How wrong was I! I will cherish your chronicle of enduring friendship and look forward to many more years of adventures tho not quite as reckless as earlier years, laughing until it hurts, seeking advice from your vast wisdom, and hugs from my dearest friend for all time. I am so blessed. Love you.
    Diana

    Thank you so much for the Birthday Wishes, Readers! And yes, Lucy is out of the doghouse, but on probation, and we our on our way for a walk right now.

  9. Such a sweet tribute to your friendship (and Iowa!!) — love this! I was blessed with a wonderful college roommate, too, and am still very close to her … but we don’t get to see each other as much as you two. I’m envious!!! Happy Birthday to Diana!!

  10. I welled up with tears reading this – for the love of good friends, for the love of aging well, for the love of happy marriages, for the love of children and grandchildren. For the love of dogs that eat chocolate cake. Life is good. Happy Birthday Diana.

  11. I too have a great friend who lives in Iowa. She and her sister spent their high school years with their aunt who was our commercial teacher. She returned to Iowa after graduation, married and raised four children in Cherokee. We often stopped to visit her family on our return trips from visiting Mr. Idaho’s family in Conn. We keep in touch for birthdays and Christmas with a phone call now and then.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures. They remind me of my college days.

    What a nice tribute to your college roommate. Happy birthday, Diane.

    1. Mrs. IDAHO: I’ve never been to Cherokee, Iowa but I suspect it is alot like so many of the other solid Iowa towns that are the foundation of America. Lucky for you too to share such a long-lasting friendship. The connection by phone and letters is so nice to continue, especially when the distance prohibits regular visits.

  12. I may not have time to comment much anymore but I am always lurking, checking out your blog. This post stopped me in my tracks, so well written you can feel the friendship ooze from the words and the tone.

    Loved that Diana the birthday Girl took the time to pen a few lines – you can tell she was surprised and pleased. Diana, I want Lucy to come home with me. I’m so bad a cook I can guarantee she wouldn’t jump on the counter for anything I make!

    EOS and Diana: May you both share another 46 years of such a deep and connected friendship.

  13. My sister, a regular reader of yours, sent me this blog post because I was a frat boy at DU in 1966 and remember quite well the girls from CWC who rocked the parties on the weekends. As a matter of fact, I married one!! I didn’t take her far, we still live in Denver, near the old CWC campus actually. Thanks for the look back and Happy 65th Birthday Diana.

  14. What a genuine tale of friendship. I don’t have a lifelong friend although it is something my mother had and told me from when I was young that it would be the greatest gift to have. She said it required a ton of work on both sides to stay connected. Congrats to both of you for going the extra mile to stay friends.

  15. Great story. Are there others from your college circle still friends or are you two the exception to the rule? I haven’t spoken to anyone from college since the day I left in 1977.

  16. Now that you mention it, I now recall that Colorado plate graphics varied from year to year, so I’m not sure what year they are. I’m guessing the white coupe was pre-’62, as the MGB was introduced that year, replacing the MGA. Whatever the year, it sure was a pretty ride!

  17. Such a great story: the photos, the words, the sentiment. It is a rare friendship indeed. You should make it into one of those hardcover shutterfly books so you’ll have it on hand, forever.

  18. That’s a great story, EOSr! Fantastic pics of the 60’s! In some ways, IMO, it was the best culture in my lifetime, just before the hippies, LSD and then…disco.
    Happy Birthday, Diana!!! Wishing you 65 more!! Just cut the cake in half and give Lucy her side. I’d slide a hacksaw blade in it for her if she’s still incarcerated.

  19. A beautiful post about a beautiful friendship, EOS! I’m sorry I missed it the first time. I love the photos from your college days. I went to a women’s college, too, and we lived in sweatpants until the “mixers,” when we transformed ourselves.

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