"The only way to have a friend is to be one." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
|Warnell on my Yamaha Road Star at his home in Hanford, CA.|
One summer day, a moving van arrived at the vacant house directly across from our home on Elizabeth Street. The new family was busy hauling boxes into their house at 1004 East Elizabeth Street in Barstow, CA.
My mom encouraged me to go say hi to the boy who appeared to be about my age.
He was two years younger. I was nine years old. I managed to say, "My name is Robert and I live over there, pointing and looking back to my house." He had a sister, Diane who was much younger. Then his mom called, "Warnell it's time to come inside for lunch," and off he went.
That was the day our friendship began. It would continue for nearly 65 years.
We grew up and shared our adventures, even at seven and nine years old. We camped out in our front yards, rode bicycles, attended Cub Scouts, went fishing at Lake Isabella, and then there was baseball. We both played little league on perhaps the worst team in the league - the Mustangs - but we didn't care. We loved the game and had fun.
Years later, he would tell me that I taught him how to throw and catch a baseball. He had an iron-tight mind for the game of baseball. He once told me the seats we sat in at Dodger Stadium, who they played, the final score, who pitched, and how we nearly missed getting a fly ball hit into the bleachers from where we always seem to see the game. As one can imagine, we took our baseball gloves to the game. We were ten and twelve at the time. How our parents, at that young age, allowed us to travel by ourselves from Barstow to Los Angeles was remarkable. We rode the train and by a miracle made it safely to Dodger Stadium.
We went there to see Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Roseboro, Maury Wills, and my idol - Duke Snider.
Warnell was the cornerstone of the game for me; a true Dodger Blue fan.
As we grew up, we owned identical black Yamaha 125 cc's and continued with our adventures on two wheels. His family eventually moved from Elizabeth Street to Pallesi Street in central Barstow. He attended Barstow High School and I went to John F. Kennedy High School. We, however, remained close as we went our separate ways.
Many years later, Denise and our 1 1/2 old son, Keith traveled to Botswana, Africa to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers working for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. I had forgotten but he reminded me that he drove us from Barstow to the Ontario Airport in our 1973 Dodge Van. I trusted him that much, and he returned our van to Barstow where it was parked for nearly three years. He loved to hear about our tour in Botswana.
We frequently talked about our childhood, our adventures on Elizabeth Street, baseball, and our families.
Sixty-five years is a long time to share a friendship.
"Warnell, I'll miss you dearly. Farewell, my friend."
|I was leaving for Barstow the morning his sister, Diane called to say that Warnell had passed away. |
I thought about him the entire 600-mile round-trip. He and his sister were part of our family.
|Farewell, my Friend.|