I have watched with envy over the last decade as friends and family find each other on the internet. Sometimes the odds are long and the distances in time and geography are daunting but the stories keep coming and they are heartwarming and compelling. But what can you do when your boyhood friend is named Randy Smith? Can you find him? Fat chance.
His name, to be exact is Randall David Smith and we went to Fall Creek Grade School, Indianapolis, Indiana together. In fact, we first teamed up on the playground at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where classes were conducted as they built our new, state of the art, grade school at Fall Creek. (Since torn down.) Smith and I discovered that together we could neutralize the class bully, but it took us both, coordinated, and it took near perfect timing.
Smith liked the New York Yankees, and particularly, Mickey Mantle. I liked the Brooklyn Dodgers and particularly, Roy Campanella. The Dodgers and the Yankees battled it out in those days. It’s a wonder our friendship survived. Come to think of it, that may be why I can’t find him.
For a time we had common teachers. Mrs. Whitmire. (Bad.) Mrs. Bowman. (Very Good.) And I think we may have shared Ms. Georgia McGuffey too. (Good.) Delver Cardner was the somber principal but the assistant principal, Mr. Stoner, was a bundle of ideas and clearly stole the show.
Randy had a sister named Judy. I had three brothers, Jim, Bill and Tim. Mrs. Smith was the splitting image of Harriet, as in “Ozzie and Harriet.” In this case, Ozzie, or Mr. Harry Smith, worked as the manager of the shoe department at the L.S. Ayers department store in downtown Indianapolis. He wore a suit and tie to work every day. They lived on Emerson Street and attended the Presbyterian Church just down the road.
I began my lifelong fascination with the Civil War at Randy’s house, where I would study the big picture books his father had collected. And we laid on the carpet in front of the TV set, with our heads propped up by our elbows, as the GOP had their annual convention in 1956, renominating Dwight David Eisenhower and Richard Milhous Nixon. Randy and I had lots of “I Like Ike” buttons which we could pin to our shoes and click like tap dancers in the marble halls of Fall Creek Grade School.
Randy played the trumpet much better than I played the clarinet. And as we grew older he picked up golf. The last time I saw him was in Indianapolis, where he had graduated from North Central High School. I had moved onto South Bend. Later, I was told that he had graduated from college, passed the LSAT, the Indiana State Bar and had become a lawyer in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
My own son, now a partner at the Foulston and Siefkin law firm in Wichita, once tried to find Randall David Smith for me but that brings up the big stumbling block. Smith. Finding a Smith, whose surnames are Randall David and who is, or was, a lawyer, who plays the trumpet and golf and likes Mickey Mantle is not so easy. The Internet is great if you are trying to find Janice Worsler or Cameron Modair. But Randy Smith? That awaits another technology.
I have passed the hours closely studying images on Facebook and facial expressions or voices on Youtube, imagining how he must look now that he is old like me. Gray? Bald? In an age of such tasty food he must definitely be heavy. And, of course, the thought has crossed my mind that he may not be here at all. That would explain my fruitless search. If so, just for the record, let me say, there was once a Randy Smith, who lived in Indianapolis, Indiana. And we were best friends, at least for a time. He was a gentleman, an excellent student and the best friend a guy could have. He became a lawyer and there the trail grows cold. But if his youth was any indication, he saved a lot of people a lot of heartache and he had a grateful clientele to show for it.