Billy Bump was thinking about his friend since first grade, Carl. He had first noticed Carl when he entered the first grade classroom on the first day of class and proceeded to sit down at his desk, when the teacher had told him, ‘Carl take your hat off in the house…and hang it in the cloak room.’
Soon, Billy discovered that he and Carl had the same last name, Bump. Now, Bump was not a common name and Billy marveled that he had the same name as another of his classmates. Billy determined, at that point, that he was going to get to know Carl, better.
Carl was a quiet boy. He was was a bit heavy in body…in a day that most American children were not, and he wore thick, what were called in the early 1960’s, coke rimmed lenses! Carl welcomed Billy B’s. friendship and Billy thought it was great as well.
Carl’s dad was a brick mason and his mom was a homemaker…as many moms were in that day and time. His dad was named Carol and his mom was Thelma. Carol was a swarthy man, with a quiet and pleasant disposition. Thelma was enthused and welcoming of Billy B. as she often commented that Carl had not had any friends before him.
Carl could do the most fantastic rendition of the Robot on Lost in Space! He was a hit with all of our first grade classmates. He had the voice down, perfect! His robotic arm movements and shuffling step were sublime!
When Billy B. went to visit Carl at his house…they had uncooked hot dogs on buns. Thelma said that was the way that Carl liked them…and Billy B. thought that…they were pretty good!
Carl and Billy B. enjoyed playing with action figures that were pre-G.I. Joe! There was Daniel Boone, based on the popular television show starring the actor Fess Parker, and the figures; Johnny West and Chief Cherokee and the pre-G.I. Joe acton figure, Stony…a army man.
The action figure in those early days….were a foot tall and came with all types of accruements such as army guns and water canteens and campfire equipment.
Carl was not a jock…and neither was Billy B….! Carl’s poor eyesight had hindered him from sports and Billy B.’s heart murmur had done the same.
Carl and Carol and Thelma attended the Social Brethren church. Billy B. and his family attended none!
Carl was a quick study and excelled in accounting. Billy B. enjoyed literature and writing and speech.
Carol, died suddenly in his sleep. Carl and Thelma were devastated!
Carl came to stay with Billy B. when he moved to Elkville to work for his church and obtain employment in the area of Elkville or Carbondale. He signed up for the Accountancy Program at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, Illinois. He was excited about entering the program and was going to live with Billy B. and some other young men from the church.
Billy B. noticed that Carl stopped attending the little church in Elkville. Billy B. telephoned Carl and his mom’s house and Thelma answered. She had at one time been welcoming of Billy B. and his friendship to Carl. However, when she answered the phone…vitriol was in her voice…and she told Billy B. that she had done Carl a great disservice in encouraging him to enroll in SIUC…that was so far from their home in El Dorado. She let him know, in no uncertain terms, that she needed Carl to live with her and that her husband had died and that she had to rely on Carl to take her to the store and to the doctor and wherever she needed to go!
Billy B. was speechless…and that is the last he saw or heard of his lifelong friend, Carl, for 20 years!
Billy B. and his wife, Jane, often visited El Dorado to spend time with Billy’s mom and step-father. They stopped into the local supermarket, the Food Center, that had been there as long as Billy B. could remember. As Bill B. proceeded to check out…there was Carl…bagging groceries. He looked 20 years older…and he recognized Billy B.
When Billy B. spoke with him…he was distant and elusive. Carl was never a big talker…but things had changed…and were different!
Carl had laid aside the friendship that they had enjoyed for many years….things had changed!
Billy B. has not heard anything regarding Carl…for the past 20 years…and he wishes that things had turned out differently.