My roommate Tina Hess and me, standing outside our Northlawn Dormitory, 1967.

My roommate Tina Hess and me, standing outside our Northlawn Dormitory, 1967.

We were two Mennonite women (we would have said girls then) attending a Mennonite college.

Neither of us had traveled much farther than to leave our Pennsylvania homes to travel to the Shenandoah Valley.

But we both had a spirit of adventure.

For one thing, we got married within weeks of each other and before our senior year of college in 1969.

By the time we graduated in 1970,

our hairdos had changed slightly.

About 1970. What happened to those coverings on our heads?

About 1970. What happened to those coverings on our heads?

Tina and I have stayed in touch over all these years,

along with our friends Mary and Gloria.

In a few weeks, we’ll celebrate the 45th anniversary of the EMC class of 1970.

Two weeks after that event, we’ll be flying to Cuba together.

How we look now. May 17, 2015 near Rehobeth Beach

How we look now. May 17, 2015, near Rehoboth Beach

Our hairdos, and hair colors, have changed again.

But since we’ve known each other since we were teenagers,

we look past the crow’s feet and the grey.

We see instead laugh lines begun in late-night conversations long ago.

As long as God grants health and strength,

we’re forever open to new adventures in the world.

Have you sought a life of adventure? Have any life-long friends been your travel companions, literally or figuratively?

Shirley Showalter


  1. Elaine Mansfield on September 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Such a beautiful testament to friendship, Shirley. I wrote about two of my life-long friends in recent blogs after traveling to CA primarily to see them and a third friend who is social media shy. Oh, and my son. πŸ˜‰ But the big pull was these women. I’ve taken a few roadtrips with one of them, but Cuba? That’s a huge adventure. Have a wonderful adventure. Looks like you’ll be in the best of company.

    • shirleyhs on September 9, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks for hopping aboard right away, Elaine. I remember seeing pictures of you enjoying your friends. And I feel a special affinity for your son Anthony because he shares that name with my only son.

      Cuba will be a huge adventure. Of that I am sure.

      The best company comes to take you to the right place at the right time. I’m hoping Tina and I both feel that way.

  2. Carol Bodensteiner on September 10, 2015 at 10:10 am

    How lucky you are to have these life-long friends and to still be doing things together. I’ve enjoyed many vacations with friends over the years: skiing in Colorado, the beach in North Carolina, to Italy for writing. I’m looking at Ireland now and hoping to engage a friend in that adventure. Have fun in Cuba.

    • shirleyhs on September 10, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Thanks, Carol. You know what I mean!

      Ireland is a place Stuart and I want to travel to. But I’ll be getting close by doing a Celtic journey to Iona, Scotland, and Lindisfarne and Durham, England, next year — with another of my college friends. I do feel lucky to be looking forward but also to be seeing new places with the help of someone who knows my past intimately. I want to savor and say thank you many times.

  3. Linda Heatwole (Hess) Bland on September 10, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Love your life-long story of the journeys you have traveled together. And now Cuba? Oh, yes. Look forward to hearing about this adventure. We plan to travel to Cuba in May.

    • shirleyhs on September 14, 2015 at 2:17 pm


      Thanks for offering this note of encouragement. You have seen a lot of both of us over the years. And you will be going to Cuba in May. We need to compare notes! Blessings as you prepare for your own adventure.

  4. Laurie Buchanan on September 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Shirley β€” I love how you nurture life-long friendships. And by golly, you and Tina’s facial features have stayed exactly the same! A far cry from a Cuban adventure, at the end of September I’m traveling to southern California where I’ll meet up with a few friends I’ve had since junior high.

    Cheers to silver hair!

    • shirleyhs on September 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Laurie, it’s fun, isn’t it, to see what remains the same in our expressions and body language even if gravity does take its toll. πŸ™‚

      Friends from junior high? That’s fabulous. And southern California is a great place to meet up. Hope you have a wonderful time!

  5. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on September 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Thank you for the college photos along with the current photos, and I enjoy hearing about the threads that bind and connect you.

    Two years ago I had a week long adventure in Montana with two friends from college days (and one from Camp Menno Haven days). This year the two friends, the husband of one and another mutual friend came to California in April, and we spent a week camping and hiking in Yosemite. We think we’ve started a tradition. Next year we hope/plan to get together again in the spring.

    Getting to know each other in new life situations while remembering the times we shared feels like being together in a tall tree with roots.

    I cheer, along with Laurie, for the silvery hair.

    • shirleyhs on September 10, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      “Like being together in a tall tree with roots.” What a perfect metaphor from someone who knows the Redwood forest well! Yes, that sense of being nested in time and yet exposed to the new is exactly what it’s like to travel with old friends.

      The “box in the basement” has yielded slides from the trip to Yosemite Stuart and I took with his brother and wife in 1976. Such hippies.


      Do make your trips a new tradition. And many happy trails ahead!

  6. Marian Beaman on September 10, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I see both of us have chosen the theme of “evolving” on our blog posts this week. We still have this synchronicity thing going on, it seems.

    Tina and you are wearing spectacles (well, most of the time) in the pairs of photos here – all the better to spot adventure and pursue it in the long view. About the coverings: The Mennonite Church was on the cusp of change during this time and your headgear or lack thereof reflects that.

    Of course, I have sought a life of adventure marrying a non-Mennonite artist and moving to Florida. He has been the best of travel companions. As for women friends, I’d have to identify Verna Mohler, college room-mate and colleague as a “constant” over the years but only in a figurative sense. I wish we could take a literal trip together. Maybe some day.

    A Celtic blessing to you and your travel companions: May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face . . .

  7. shirleyhs on September 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I chuckled when I saw your subject yesterday, Marian. “We’ve done it again,” was the thought that hit me.

    I hope you and Verna can do a trip together sometime.

    Maybe it should include another trip to the “nunnery.” As you know, LMS is totally unrecognizable now. They have a great performing arts center for their award-winning thespians to learn their craft.

    I love your blessing. I extend it to all who read these words.

    Thanks for the blogging journey, side by side, also.

  8. Linda Gartz on September 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Long-time friendships are a real treasure. I still regularly see my high school best friend, Peggy (just spent last weekend with her and her husband at the wedding of another good friend’s son). We double dated with the two of them in the sixties. My best college friend and her hubby (we introduced them) and we still sail together! To be friends with someone who really KNOWS your history, not just “heard” about it, makes so much of our interaction just plain understood.

    Love the changing hairdos–I have about 30 over the years! Glad to see you hanging out with your good bud!

    • shirleyhs on September 10, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Those pictures on Facebook looked like you and Peggy still know how to have fun, Linda. And sailing seems like a great way to find adventure and stay close to each other at the same time.

      I read somewhere that old friends become more precious as we age because they see us the way we see ourselves — as a baby who was a child who became a teenager and an adult. They don’t just look at grey hair and think, “Old person.” That made a lot of sense to me a decade ago and now makes even more sense. πŸ™‚

  9. Joan Z Rough on September 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I’m excited about your trip and hope you all have a wonderful time. What a special adventure it will be with life long friends.

    • shirleyhs on September 14, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Joan, thanks for this note. Sorry it took me so long to approve the comment. Still learning how my new WP theme works!

  10. Sherrey Meyer on September 12, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Such a loving testimony you give for special friendships that evolved from younger days. I know you may find this hard to believe, but I had few close friends in high school or college. This was likely due to the circumstances of my parenting and home life. However, though none of us have travelled together, my high school class maintains a Facebook page and I have reconnected with many classmates, one actually calling me a troublemaker yesterday and admitting he didn’t remember that way. Well, I’ve changed! My closest friend in high school, Peggy, and I have recently reconnected. My most constant and enduring friendship is with a former co-worker whom I met in 1996. Despite moves on her part, we connect each day by email and have shared weekends together in each other’s homes. It is an enduring friendship cemented in faith and prayer. The best kind!

    Shirley, enjoy your trip to Cuba and seeing old friends. I cheer for silver and gray strands of hair and crow’s feet around the eyes!

  11. shirleyhs on September 14, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Sherrey, I am surprised to hear you say you had few close friends in high school or college. I think of you as a very warm extrovert who makes friends easily. Glad that you do have long-term friends from your adult like.

    And thanks for the encouragement to see silver as beautiful! Women of a certain age help each other to do that.

  12. Linda Rush on September 23, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    What a wonderful friendship, Shirley. One of my best friends is someone I met in 1968 when we both were placed in the same Mennonite Voluntary Service unit in Cleveland. We haven’t always lived in the same area but do now and are enjoying special times together. A few years back we flew to Hawaii and took a week-long cruise around the islands. Your post provided me with such special memories of that trip with my friend. I wish you great travels with your long-time friend too.

    • shirleyhs on September 23, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Linda, your friendship goes back almost as far as this one, and you have traveled even more miles with your friend. I hope you have some great photos, journal, or souvenirs that help bring the memory to life. Maybe it’s time to reach out and ask if your friend is up for another adventure! All best.

  13. Victoria / Justice Pirate on December 4, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I so admire long-term friendships like this one you have! How wonderful! You have both changed in similar physical ways since 1967! That’s really neat!

    • Shirley Showalter on December 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      We have changed differently and similarly over the years. Now we get to compare notes and keep telling our respective stories. Hope you have old friends too!

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