Since I lost Lev, I find that I value my friends more than ever; and those with whom I share a history have special value. Email–but Facebook even more–has created an easy way to keep up with old friends, where once our single communication might have been the annual Christmas card. Between the old Christmas lists, my email list and my Facebook friends, I don’t travel many places in the U.S. where I don’t have at least one friend I can contact.
One of those friends in one of those places is Henry Holcomb of Bucks County, PA, whom I met in September 1960, when he walked in the Baylor Lariat newsroom as a freshman. We collaborated on so many stories through the next three years. I have blogged before about meeting Lev while working at the Caller-Times the summer before my senior year. One night after work, Henry drove down from Temple to spend the next day helping me plan the fall semester at the Lariat. When he arrived in Corpus Christi in the early morning hours, he parked in one of the bayfront parks to sleep until sunrise. The police stopped by regularly to harass him, and at dawn he came to my apartment. Shortly later, Lev called. I don’t remember if I told him that I was cooking breakfast for Henry or if Henry answered the phone, but Lev was there to check things out in record time. Back at Baylor that fall, Henry wrote the page 1 stories for the Lariat, while I wrote the editorials. I learned only yesterday that he assumed then that I would be the first female editor of the New York Times. He asked if I had any regrets. My answer: a resounding NO! But he and many of our peers went on to distinguished careers, and I have always counted myself blessed that I was never relegated to second-class friendship because I made a different choice.
Most of Henry’s career was spent at newspapers in Cincinnati, Detroit and Philadelphia; and our paths have not crossed often. When his wife Christine, a chaplain, accepted the pastorate of a church in Bucks County, they left the city. Henry is retired now, actively involved in their church and in a seaman’s ministry in Philadelphia; but today he drove over to Bethlehem and took me on a tour of the Delaware River Valley, stopping at a general store on the old Delaware Canal for coffee and then in Riegelsville for lunch–favorites of his and Christine’s. This is gorgeous countryside–towering sycamore and chestnut trees, steep hills and narrow river valleys, beautiful old stone farmhouses and barns. It’s still spring here, with dogwood and a few rhododendron in bloom. A beautiful day spent in good conversation about big issues–the Church, politics, racial issues, Texas, Baylor, newspapers and print media. The same things we’ve been talking about for 55 years.
Photos: 1831 Delaware Canal–Henry, clematis growing up the arbor at the general store, peonies along the banks. The Delaware River Valley at Riegelsville–New Jersey on the far shore, the 111-year-old suspension bridge spanning the river; the historic Riegelsville Inn, at the old ferry crossing.