Web Special / February 24, 2005


Webster's New World Dictionary defines friend as, "A person whom one knows well and is fond of."

I thought about that and realized that I have friends I know well, and I have friends I don't know so well, but I am fond of them and consider them friends.

It bothers me to think that as we get involved in our little rut in life's road that we don't see our good friends as often as we once did. The same applies to those we may not know as well, but are fond of whom we may never see.

I received a phone call the other day from Jack Lien. Jack is the owner of Treasure Software in Great Falls, Montana. I have never met Jack face to face, but my wife used his product, Perfect Secretary, for many years, and I have written a column for his Web site for almost 10 years. Over those years, we have talked on the phone many times, and Jack and his wife were aware of my wife being ill and my heart surgery, and Jack had called to see how we were doing. We must have talked an hour about our families. Jack has a daughter in college, and I have a grandson, who at the time was in Iraq, and that dominated the conversation. Talking to Jack is easy, and I feel like I have known him a very long time.

I had hoped to meet Jack and his wife when the ABC Tournament was held in Billings. I normally take my teams in June, but that year the grandson that was serving in Iraq graduated from high school, and I passed on the Billings event.

I'm saddened to think I may never meet Jack and his wife.

Joe Gennaro is the owner and publisher of the Dallas-based The Bowling News and, once again, a friend I don't get to see very often.

I have known Joe for about 15 years and have written a monthly column for him all during that time. Joe is a native New Yorker, and all of my family lives in Upstate New York, so we seem to understand each other.

Over the years, we have become telephone friends. I'll call Joe, or he will call me and we chat about everything from the Yankees to bowling.

Lately our conversations have been more about health issues, and he called often to check on my wife and me. After my wife and I were on the mend, Joe had a bout with cancer. He seemed to be recovering well when he fell down a flight of stairs, sending him to the hospital. Now, recuperating at home, he is the Joe of old with a great sense of humor and a great outlook on life.

This year, our state tournament is in Plano and Dallas, and I hope that my wife and I will be able to meet Joe and Sandra on Saturday night and find a great Italian restaurant and enjoy a good bottle of wine.

John Slanina and his lovely wife Fran live in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were stationed together in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 60s. We lived in the same government housing area, our kids were about the same age, and John and I bowled on the El CID team at Hansa Alley. The team name was derived from Criminal Investigation Division (CID), which was our unit. We had a great team and had a great time.

John was a heck of a bowler, averaging nearly 200, back when that meant something. Fran and my wife were close friends and although the Slanina's left Germany before we did, we remained close over the years. We wrote, phoned, and stayed abreast of the good and bad things that happen to people over a span of nearly 40 years.

When the WIBC nationals were held in Bismarck-Mandan, we made a trip to Rapid City and spent a few days with John and Fran and shared a few laughs and tears.

Prior to John being in the Army, he served in the Navy and remains close to that service and attends his old Navy reunions each year. Unfortunately, he hasn't made it to Texas yet, but we are hoping that occurs soon. In the meantime, we continue to stay in touch through E-mail and Ma Bell.

We may not see each other, but I know they are just a phone call away.

The basis for these friendships are quite varied, but have one common denominator: bowling.

Certainly, a friendship made in the military service has a special meaning because we are such a close fraternity. But, the friendships I have made with Jack and Joe are no less special.

There are many, many more friends that G.G. and I wish we could see more often. But, happenings within our lives simply don't coincide. It doesn't diminish the friendship, it simply keeps us apart.

A friend once told me that he would never own a computer. He screened his calls and only corresponded at Christmastime. I think that's sad.

There's a scene in the movie Tombstone (the best western ever made), in which Doc Holiday says, "Wyatt is my friend." The character says, "Wyatt has a lot of friends." Doc responds by saying, "Well, I don't."

We should hold our friends close.