The end of a year also brings about thoughts of times past. Today I am thinking about a special childhood friend, Susie Suchman, someone I lost track of; this blog is dedicated to her, wherever she is.
A skinny Jewish girl; a chubby Catholic girl – that was Susie Suchman and me – best friends.
Susie and her family lived in a house across the road from my grandparents on Taughannock Boulevard. The Suchman’s beautiful contemporary home was positioned on a narrow strip of land between State Route 89 and the cliff overlooking Cayuga Lake. Conforming to the land, the house was long and narrow; the windows were floor to ceiling in most rooms facing the lake. For me the most intriguing area was the breakfast nook. The three outside walls were glass and this room literally hung over the cliff so when you looked down, you saw nothing but the water below.
I don’t remember how Susie and I met; possibly her parents came over to meet the proprietors of the nearby restaurant. At any rate, we hit it off and ended up playing for hours either at the restaurant or at her house.
Susie and I loved to play paper dolls. We would stake out our areas in my grandparents’ house as that was the safest place to leave them undisturbed. We could do this for about a week before my grandmother would “mention” them; that was our cue to pick up our dolls and move them over to Susie’s house.
Susie was a fussy eater – probably the reason she looked like a toothpick. When we played at the restaurant Susie would be invited to stay for lunch. Before she accepted the offer, she roamed the large commercial kitchen looking into the pots to see what was being served that day. She would then say, “No thank you; I think I will go home.”
A memorable lunch at the Suchman’s was one Friday during Lent. As lunchtime approached I became nervous, wondering what was going to be put in front of us. As I sat down at the table I was overwhelmed with the kindness and sensitivity of Mrs. Suchman. She served us grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Before her two girls could comment on the menu, she stated she knew I could not eat meat, and therefore everything was meatless. I am sure this was a small gesture on her part, but to me it was a life lesson about compassion, acceptance, and respect of others’ beliefs.
As we entered our teens, Susie and I drifted apart. She attended Ithaca schools; I attended Trumansburg. Her parents got divorced, the house was sold, and Susie and her mother moved away. I never heard from her again.
Susie, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and healthy and I would love an opportunity to talk with you again.