Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Memories of a Friend

Dear Bluegrass family. It's times like this that I am so glad that I have such an extended family, such as you all. I dont know how I would have ever made it this far down life's road, without your support and love during trying times that we all have to endure from time to time. I usually try to write one of my humorous experiences from the past, for this Thursday's Welcome Message, but today, all that I can think of is a dear friend that "crossed over Jordan", on Sunday, the 18th. Please bear with me this month as I share a few stories of my days in the 1940's and 50's with my buddy, Don Freed.

In 1943, my father rented a house in East Stockton, at 1857 So. Golden Gate. Two houses north of us, was where the Freed family lived, and my first meeting with Donnie, Dickie, and Gerry Freed, was stuff like you see in one of the old Charlie Chaplin movies. I was standing out in front of the yard when down the street comes these three kids. I'll never forget the Sailor's cap that Donnie was wearing, as he swaggered up to me and said; Hey kid, do you like to fight? Not one to let anyone bully me, even at that tender age, I said, you bet! My attention was fixed on Donnie, and I didn't see Dickie sneak behind me and get down on his knees and hands right behind me. SO, when I said, You Bet, Donnie pushed me over Dickie in a heap, and the fight was on! Their sister Gerry, who is my age, started running home, all the while yelling, I'm gonna tell momma that you guys are beating up the kid next door! That was my introduction to the "mean kid" next door, who would become as a brother to me, through life's journey.

As the years went by we became close friends. One of our favorite things to do on an early summer morning, was to sneak around the neighborhood and see how many times we could drink the cream from the milk bottles that the milk man had just delivered, without getting caught. There was a house on south Golden Gate that sat far back from the street, and was surrounded by large shrubs, and all of us kids just knew that the old lady that lived there was a genuine witch! She always wore dark clothing, and never spoke to any of the neighbors, and was always threatening to have us kids put into "reform school's" , as she would walk to the bus stop or store. WELL, as luck would have it on this one particular morning, it was my turn to "get the cream", and there in front of me was "the witch's" house. Bravely I sneaked up onto the porch, slowly lifted the lid on the "milk box', lifted a quart bottle out and had just taken the paper lid off, when the door flew open and the "witch" started yelling that she was gonna call our parents and she hoped that they would beat us to death! Well, I dropped that quart bottle, and the milk went all over the porch, and i hit the street in a dead run! Donnie could always out run me, and by the time I got to his house, he had already closed and locked the door! However, our getaway wasn't so clean, as the phone started ringing and as soon as his mother answered it, we were in deeep doo doo! Suffice it to say that I got two whippings, cause I got one from Mrs. Freed, and one when I dared to go home. well after dark, that evening. That was the "mean little kid' phase of our friendship, one that was very trying, to say the least. Being the youngest one of the three boys, they were always "daring me" to do things, and i usually was the one that got caught and punished. That was a source of many a laugh in our older years.

But, we survived to become teenagers, finish high school and do what all young folks did back in those days. Get a job, get married and start a family. Well wouldn't you know it. Donnie met a pretty young lady and they fell in love and became engaged. I'll never forget the first time that he introduced us. He said , Joyce, this is one of my best friends, Jerrell Rhynes. And Joyce replied, yes that's right, and he and I are cousin's. You could have knocked Donnie over with a feather! They had a son and two daughters in years to come. A small world indeed! Over the ensuing years we shared life’s joys together, as only old friends can, and we also shared in each others grief, as family members departed life’s road, some well before their time.

Don became a Deputy Sheriff for San Joaquin, County, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. I could tell a score or more of stories about our younger days, but I think that a short story by Luther Beecher is appropriate to end today's message, before I start to bore you. This is a wonderful story that I think really think puts losing an old friend into a positive perspective. Here then is the story.

You are standing on the seashore. A ship at the dock spreads it's white sails to the morning breeze, as your friend waves good bye from it's deck, and starts for the blue ocean. It is an object of strength and beauty, and you stand and watch it until it is only a ribbon of white cloud where sea and sky seem to mingle with each other. Then someone at your side says, "there, it is gone!" Gone where? Gone from your sight, that is all. It is just as complete in mast and hull and spar as it was when it left your side, and just as able to bear its precious freight to the place of destination. Its diminished appearance is in you- - - not in it. At the very moment when someone at your side says, there, he's gone! ,other voices shout with gladness, Here he comes! And that is death. Death is only a horizon, and a horizon is a limit of our sight.

Friends like Don only come our way once in our life time. I thank GOD that I've got more than my share in all of you. Rest in peace my friend.

Yer friend, J.D.Rhynes
Posted:  5/22/2008

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email