The year was 1949. Harry S. Truman was president, a gallon of milk cost 18 cents; and on an assembly line in a shoe polish factory in Dayton, Ohio, a friendship was born. That special bond, between machinists Emma Davis and Ruth Allen, helped both women find what joy they could in the monotonous factory work.
“We would take all our lunch breaks together, and play bridge every Sunday,” says Allen. “We’d even go for cocktails after work sometimes. We were the best of friends.”
But, sadly, that arrangement ended just one year later, when Davis was transferred to the next town over to become a quality control specialist at the company’s headquarters. On Davis’ last day, she and Allen embraced, and amicably agreed to keep in touch.
And keep that promise, they did. Davis and Allen have managed stayed connected for the past 65 years, via a volley of letters, phone calls, and now emails, in an effort to schedule a time to get together and catch up over drinks.
“It’s difficult, you know, with our jobs and families and everything, to find a time that works for the both of us,” explains Allen, who is now a mother of nine, a grandmother of 30, and a great-grandmother of 16. She continues, “I was a little busy, sure. But Emma always understood.”
Davis, now 90 and living in a retirement home, recalls that despite their best efforts, the ladies’ messages always got crossed, somehow.
She explains, “I remember one letter that got lost in the snow during the Blizzard of ’75. I found it in a ditch once spring came, but by that time Ruth had moved, so my response was returned by the postmaster.”
Davis leafs through an old photo album. “Here’s a picture of us together at the factory. I’ve been meaning to show her this,” she remembers fondly. “We really should just do one of those Doodle polls.”
With the dawn of modern technology, a reunion seemed inevitable.
“In 2007, it looked like we had finally settled on a date via email,” says Davis. “But the night before she emailed me to say that everything was a little crazy with the holidays, and would I mind terribly if we rescheduled. It’s not like we’re being flaky on purpose; it’s just hard to find the time, you know?”
But Allen never responded. She explains, “I thought I sent an email back with some dates that would work on my end, but my great-grandson told me it was in my draft folder for almost six years.” She shakes her head. “Ughhh, I miss her so much!!”
With Davis’ busy social schedule at Grandview Hills, and Allen’s family obligations, they still haven’t been able to get together for their “catch-up drinks”, but the fact that they are still trying is an inspiration to us all. Can you say, “#FriendshipGoals”?