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FAR FLUNG FRIENDS
Story by Lois Grace



As I sit here writing this, we are teetering on the edge of the long Memorial Day weekend, and I am waiting for friends from Washington state to arrive. Ralph and Libby are driving their 1973 Texas Yellow Bug, Tweety Pie, south to California to spend part of their vacation with Rob and me. We've met Ralph only once before, and have never met Libby; she and Ralph were just recently married. But I have know Ralph for years, through the mail, and later, through email. It's bound to be a fun weekend, for sure.

I forget now how Ralph and I started writing letters to each other. Letters! Can you imagine that? Before computers, we used to actually write and mail the pages to each other! Ralph even wrote his longhand, not typing like I did mine. Our friendship spans a long while, and our common interest in Volkswagens keeps it going. Here's a neat guy. All this got me to thinking about all the neat people I've met in this hobby.

Of course, I've loved VW's for most of my life, thanks to Vernon and my dad. Ralph, I suspect, has a history much the same. And, I wouldn't have met all these far-flung friends of mine if I hadn't been involved in the VW hobby. It brings people together, in a common bond. But bigger than the family of man thing is the friendship that results when all these different people are thrown together. It's a strange phenomenon that I haven't seen anywhere else. We can meet each other once, and we are then friends for life.

Thanks to my writing for VW Trends, and all the other various writing I do for the hobby, I'm out there more than most. There are people I've never met in person who feel like they know me. So when they do meet me or say hello, they'll feel like we are old pals! I like this. I don't care about the recognition, it's just nice to feel connected to so many people who consider me a friend. And, when the chance comes to actually spend time with these folks, they become real friends very fast. With most of them I can't even remember how we got started writing, emailing, or phoning. It might have been because they commented on something I'd written. Or maybe they talked to me at a show. Now it's easier than ever to connect because of email and the Internet. However it happens it's always fun for me. I have so many of these friends now it's sometimes hard to recall the circumstance that brought us together. And, honestly? It doesn't really matter.

But most of them I won't forget. I now have friends in Europe and from nearly every state in the US. I did an interview many years ago with a reporter from Japan. I'd taken Vernon to the show, and he'd happened to win first in his class. This reporter wanted to talk to me about my truck so we did a short chat on film. I had no idea who he was or what his publication was, but he knew ME. Funny how that works. I have friends who are casual acquaintances from this hobby; and I have friends who are so dear I would trust them with my life. Some of these people have shared their livesjoys and sorrows with me, such a close bond we've formed. And some of these people I see only once or twice a year! It's a true testament to who we are.

Maybe we would have been friends in spite of the VW thing, instead of because of it...who knows. The Volkswagen hobby brought us together though. And, every so often, a visit with these friends reminds me of how much fun we have together. I wonder if Libby knows what she's gotten into with this, I tend to think she does, as she agreed to spend 3 days in an old Beetle driving to California for a vacation! Someone who didn't care about old cars wouldn't have done that, for sure. She sounds like she's a good match for our friend Ralph. I like her already.

This summer looks like it's going to be filled with these reunions A friend I've known even longer than Ralph is coming to California for a visit with his family in July. And, we will meet the entire gang for the first time then, even though Steve and I have been writing for more than 20 years. We've never even talked on the phone! I don't known why except that life sometimes gets in the way of such things. He happens to live on one coast and I live on the other so geography prevented us meeting in person until now. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I'll have fun with Ralph and Libby, and make mental notes of what I want to say when I write about their visit. Because it'll probably be a long while before we four get together again, I want to freeze each moment and remember everything. Such good friends deserve no less.


VolksWoman

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