September 21, 2010

Memories of my dear friend Christine Wilkens

By Susan Weldon, 1960
i moved to levittown in august of 1953 in time to start 6th grade at northside school. my teacher was harry baumann (be still my heart) and my new best friend was christine wilkens. our friendship lasted for many years until i lost track of her when she moved from levittown some years before her death.

i spent more time at chris' house than my own. she lived on chickidee lane with her mom, frances who was a single working mother, her nana and her younger brother guy. frances had been either an aquatic dancer or a lifeguard at jones beach and we spent lots of summer days there fastidiously slathering ourselves with baby oil mixed with iodine. i felt like one of the family, especially when nana yelled at us for various infractions and frances gave us a few bucks to go away.

when chris turned 16, nana bought her a red (or was it green?) MG two seater convertible. it came with very specific rules about when and where it could be driven. the list did not include sneaking out of the house late one spring night and driving into 'the city'. we didn't get caught.

chris and i stayed close after high school. we saw each other a lot the two years i went to hofstra - most often at the bowlder lounge. i went to her wedding (in a slip and a raincoat - but that's another story). i knew and liked her husband lee and knew and loved her children, donna, guy and douglas.

after i moved to new york and then connecticut, we saw each other less frequently but remained connected. i stayed with her when i came from connecticut to our 20th reunion. she was divorced and back on chickadee lane. it was as if we were still teenagers getting dressed and putting on makeup and after the festivities staying up all night rehashing and relishing every moment.

we had many phone conversations over the ensuing years. chris had some tough times, but was always up for a long dishy chat. i knew she was selling the house and moving to glen cove or garden city or somewhere and assumed she'd call when she was settled. she didn't and i'm sad and ashamed to say i didn't try to find her.

i'm not sure how i found out chris had died, but when i did, i somehow tracked down her daughter donna and phoned her. she was happy to hear from me and gave me the great gift of telling me that chris remembered our time together with joy as i still do.


Anonymous said...

Sue, I too Had Harry Bauman the year after you did. I thought he was great.
As for Christine, I can only tell you that she was always kind and friendly to me. I met her in the bowlder in the late 60's I think. She wore wire rimmed stylish looking glasses and was still as pretty as she was in high school but more importantly, she still had a smile and a warm greeting for me after so many years had passed. I know how close you were with her and I know how bad I felt to hear she had died so young. I can just imagine how you must've felt.

Anonymous said...

Sue, it's Arnie Galeota who wrote that comment..Damn info confused me got entered ananymously in error

Anonymous said...

It's so beautiful how "Best Friends" don't have to see each other for decades, because the love and the great times and the sorrow that they shared will remain in their hearts forever. In some small way the relationship that you shared with Christine and the down to earth honesty of that friendship, through thick and thin reminds me of the movie, "Beaches". Susan, these are not just words: I am so sorry for your loss. When someone who has had such an impact on our lives dies their absence here on earth leaves a huge hole in our heart and our life. But, as you already know, I honestly believe that your loving "Best Friends" bond that you shared with Christine will not die, it will be forever.

I never told anyone this until right now. Susan when I was pregnant for my first daughter I honestly chose the name Christine because of Christine Wilkens. I always looked at Christine as a beautiful, smart girl with pretty blonde hair. I was amazed when I first saw my daughter she had blonde hair, very, very light skin, and green eyes. Later on when she went to school I was told by more than one of her teachers how pretty and brilliant Christine is. What was even stranger is our beautiful second daughter named Jennifer who also is very smart has Joe’s and my dark hair and dark eyes. In fact more than one person has asked us if we adopted Christine.

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote the comment above is Ann Crescenzo Fazzino

susan weldon said...

thanks arnie & anne.

Anonymous said...

Sue, it isn't always easy to put the feelings in your heart into words on a page. You did it both lovingly and beautifully. Pat McD