March 23, 2021

City-girl-farm-girl adventure launches 54-year friendship

             When our parents—Albert and Flora, Lamar and Willene—brought us to the University of Georgia, we were strangers. I remember walking into brand-new Brumby Hall’s room 641, and there you were—sitting on a pull-out bed. You said, “Hello! I’m Judy Mizell, and I am Jewish … but not orthodox!” I’m not sure what I said other than, “I’m Pam Shirah from Camilla.” Maybe I said, too, “I’m Baptist.” 

And right there, in 1967, the city-girl-farm-girl adventure began.

We couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. You grew up with honking horns and Atlanta’s skyline in the background. I grew up on a dirt road, a farmer’s daughter, 4 miles from a loaf of bread at the Hopeful Store. You introduced me to bagels and lox. I taught you how to spread mayhaw jelly on a buttered homemade biscuit.

A thousand and one things have changed since then. In those days, freshmen couldn’t have cars. Coeds couldn’t wear shorts, except in PE, unless covered by raincoats. London Fog did a booming business at UGA. There were curfews and rules against us wearing curlers outside the dorm.

Cooking in dorm rooms was prohibited, but shhhh. We did. Cell phones? Emails? What were those? We had Ma Bell. And when the long-distance charges arrived each month—from your talking to Dan Wolbe at LSU—you always yelped, “Albert is going to kill me!” Of course, your dad didn’t, and now you two lovebirds are celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary.

            But I’m getting ahead of myself.

            Back to Brumby. 

Remember Tuesday—April 9, 1968—just before midnight? Our dorm made national news when the boiler exploded, twice. And where were you? Trying to get back from the first floor, after a vending-machine run for candy. The dorm was dark. I ran looking for you, calling, “Judy! Judy!” When I got near the elevator, I could hear you. The elevator was stuck between floors, and we had to help you crawl up and out.

            All 900 girls were ordered to evacuate. Putting on our raincoats and grabbing our toothbrushes, we hit the stairs, walking all six floors down into the chilly darkness. UGA helped us find safe places for the next few days. 

            Yes, yes.

            So many memories of our life-changing two years together.

            And look at us now.

            We are grandmothers and married to the same men for a total of 102 years. Dink and I will soon be married 52 years. You and Dan celebrated your golden wedding anniversary on March 14, which would have been my mother’s 94th birthday.

            And in these COVID-19, socially distanced days, I wish that I could hug your neck. Instead, I am going to spread mayhaw jelly on a toasted bagel to celebrate our 54 years of friendship.

Judy, what a blessing you’ve been in my life.

            I send my love and congratulations to you and Dan.

(Note: A 1968 blind date with Judy Mizell’s UGA roommate was the beginning of a courtship and our soon-to-be 52 years of marriage. This week, I yield my column to Pam so that my wife can tell how the city-girl-farm-girl adventure evolved into 54 years of friendship.)