By J. Joseph Mapes, a Midwest Energy & Communications member

It has been said that “old friends are the bestfriends.” I surely agree. Growing up in Grand Rapids, I began forming many friendships, beginning in kindergarten in 1950. In those days, we didn’t hang out with our parents much…we hung out with our friends. You could say we raised each other, as we were always together having fun.

Although I went to Culver Military Academy in high school, my GR friends kept in touch. I then moved to New Jersey and Florida for a few years. Several friends would visit me in Florida (imagine that), and one suggested that I transfer to Western Michigan University for my junior year, and sent the paperwork. I couldn’t wait to get back to Michigan and live off-campus with some of those same friends. We had the time of our lives!

During the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, most of us got married, raised children, and worked. Many moved out of state, making it difficult to get together. In 1981, however, one of the guys decided that enough was enough and started what we call “the boys’ weekend,” a time to reconnect and let loose. There were around 15 attendees that first year, many from out of state. Some years, an extra weekend was planned with the wives, who wanted to join in the fun. In 1993, we rented a cottage on Lake Michigan in South Haven, and we have been going there every September to this day. Unfortunately, we have lost a number of these dear friends over the years, but nine of us continue the tradition.

This May, we (and wives) are meeting in Grand Rapids to celebrate us all turning 80. We will take a bus tour of our childhood homes (16), then be dropped off at Roses for dinner. There is nothing like old friends, as we hold on to so many memories of good times together, while still making new memories!

About the Author: J. Joseph is a retired owner/manager of Bank Street Bingo Hall and Bank Street Winter Market in Kalamazoo. His family’s history is interesting! The grandfather he was named after (Col. J. Joseph Reddy) was a medic and surgeon who was General Douglas MacArthur’s personal aide and physician in the Philippines in the 1930s


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here