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They lived just around the bend in the road, and we tobogganed with them down the slope between the two farms.Justine loved music, and when the Laconia Branch choir gave a concert in our branch, we invited her to join us.
There I recall that my Jewish boss, after I handed him a nice hand-made clay mug as a remembrance at Christmastime, chuckled for weeks at the thought of a Mormon giving a Jew a coffee cup for Christmas!
Too often, though, in the bustle of meetings, Church assignments, callings, and the business of everyday life, we limit our circle of friends to members of the Church—probably because we have been cautioned, “choose your friends wisely” since we were knee-high to a Primary teacher.
Unfortunately, some of us have taken that counsel to mean that we should choose only members of the Church as friends, and by doing so we have robbed ourselves of the richness of diversity.
Twelve years and five states later, we moved to Salt Lake City.
In all the intervening years, we were never neighbors with members of the Church.
That’s what the conversation over the fence had been about that morning—bread!
Fred wanted me to teach him to make bread, and Jack passed along the word that I would be starting a batch later that day. There was Fred, a large bowl clutched against the man-sized apron that covered his stocky frame. The screen door banged and he poked his head into the kitchen.
When spring had burst the buds on the plum tree in the backyard I saw Jack leaning on the handle of our rake, small-talking with Muriel and Fred Frank as they cleaned the winter’s clutter from their yard. In their marriage Fred and Muriel were partners in the housework, the care of their two school-age girls, and the cooking.
There is no stereotype mold into which one can stuff the Franks, with their avant-garde outlook on life encased in a middle-class white frame house. Fred, a gourmet cook, was fascinated when he learned that I made my own bread, especially when I told him I also ground the wheat on a grinder in our wardhouse kitchen.
How memorable those hours were as the three of us talked of everything from politics to painting, Fred’s thick New Jersey accent mingling freely with our own from the Midwest and West.
During the two years that we shared a back fence with the Franks, there were many such conversations.
At the same time, we have found that we have gained immeasurably from allowing friends to share their own life-styles—and what a smorgasbord of memories that has become!