S: The Story of Ethel and Louie | The Story of Ethel and Louie
FC: The Story of Ethel and Louie
1: Many, many moons ago, September 1966 to be exact, two girls just starting out in high school were arriving at Cardinal McCloskey to begin their freshman year after graduating from Catholic grade school the previous June. Neither one knew each other or had any idea what lay ahead of them and how their friendship would span so many decades and how their connection would become such a large part of each other's life. | The Story of Ethel and Louie | The Story of Ethel and Louie | The Story of Ethel and Louie | Ethel Downey and MaryLou Dreis were seated back to back in Homeroom 201. MaryLou was feeling quite scared and lonely not knowing anyone in class and wanted to have at least one friend to be able to talk to. Next thing Ethel knew, tap, tap, tap on her shoulder was MaryLou's fingers and an introduction of who she was & asked who Ethel was. This was just the beginning...
2: Being in the same homeroom, meant the schedule of classes during the day was also shared. Lunchtime was the opportunity to bring up boy topics and the chance to meet new friends. Football and basketball game schedules were discussed and who was going with who to the games. | Weekend dances were also anticipated, giving the opportunity of dancing with a boy who would possibly ask for a dance. MaryLou's dad was usually a good sport and always made sure she had a ride home.
3: Going to the games meant getting punched in the leg by Ethel, just as MaryLou would do the same to Ethel. It was their way of releasing their excitement when their team was doing well. MaryLou and Ethel met each other's families. Both were very different, indeed. MaryLou's dad, being a funeral director and living in a funeral home is very different from Ethel's large family living in the house on West St. MaryLou got along right away with Ethel's family. Her dad liked to call her Squirrel. It's been so long since her dad gave her this nickname, it escapes her memory as to how it all got started. Harry sure got a kick out of it and so did MaryLou.
4: It's been so long that the reason he called her Squirrel escapes her memory (along with a lot of other things too). Harry did enjoy it and so did Squirrel. It was kind of a surprise for any of the girls or guys to find out about how MaryLou's dad was a funeral director and she lived in the funeral home. In fact, the 16th birthday party was held at the funeral home and it proved interesting. The guys wanted to see, but the ruling was absolutely not. We put crepe paper over the doorway to keep them out the best we could. Think about it, how many other girls can say their 16th birthday party was in a funeral home?
5: During the summer before sophomore year, Ethel went on vacation with MaryLou and her family up to Lake George for a week. Canoe Island Resort was a pretty cool place to go. They had all sorts of activities to keep you busy and entertained. They would hire young college girls and guys to waitress and drive the boats and run any miscellaneous errands for the supervisory staff. Needless to say, being two healthy girls in high school, Louie and Ethel liked the eye candy that week big time. This picture on the opposite page of the two girls on the rock is Lake George. We have many happy memories of that week and it brought us that much closer as friends that summer.
6: Junior Year brought some changes to Ethel and Louie's friendship. MaryLou met a boy named Gerry at a dance at VI and Ethel started working at the Trading Port where she met the love of her life, Bob Frost. They started dating and her free time was taken up with Bob and MaryLou's free time was taken up with Gerry. They still saw each other at school and kept in touch and went to the prom together as a foursome. MaryLou's dad had a wake going on and they had to walk down the front stairs through the wake in their formal wear to the prom. Once at the prom, Gerry was so polite he pulled the chair out for MaryLou to sit down and she missed the chair and landed on the floor with her bouquet in her lap. It was a bit embarrassing at the time, but Ethel and Louie laugh about it to this day. It was a pretty absurd picture since our table was right on the edge of the dance floor.
7: After graduation from high school, the girls lost touch somewhat. MaryLou became engaged to Gerry and Ethel was attending Pharmacy College for 5 years. Bob was going to Hudson Valley and then moving on to RPI. He worked his way through school at the Trading Port, and studied very hard to earn the good grades that he did. MaryLou was working for the Dept of Audit and Control right out of high school, but the one thing that put a damper on the positive things happening in her life, Gerry was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was having the struggle of his life. It was even more difficult for MaryLou to stay true to her feelings and listen to common sense that the bright future that she was so hoping for, just wasn't there. The week long stays in the hospital and visits every night just confirmed to me that this isn't how I had pictured my youthful days in love. It was the most difficult decision I ever had to make was to leave Gerry even though I really loved him. The guilt I felt cut my heart in half and hearing after that that his interest in life had led to a setback in his condition, was horrible. That was when I wrote and brought Ethel back into my life. I needed my friend at that point more than ever before. She came to my rescue and writing that letter changed my life forever.
8: Ethel kept setting me up with dates until she succeeded with Bob's cousin, Ken Malette. We got along fine and dated a little over a year. Ethel and Bob were married and a year later Ken and MaryLou were married. They were now indirectly related. Bob and Ethel moved away to Columbia, Maryland making it very difficult to keep that close friendship alive. It always seemed as though just as we would get close, something would happen to create a distance again. Ken and MaryLou bought their first house in Cohoes and invited Ethel and Bob around Christmas time. This was in the early years of both marriages.
9: Years passed and Ethel thrived as a pharmacist, but she was feeling that maternal instinct. After a few years of trying, they finally decided after being told she couldn't get pregnant, to adopt Sarah. Sarah needed them and they certainly were ready for a baby.
10: During the years of Columbia, Maryland, MaryLou and Ken lived in Cohoes and had Kristen. This is one of MaryLou and Kris when Kris was about 4 months old.
11: MaryLou and Ken had Matt next before Sarah was adopted. The Columbia days were coming to an end and Ethel and Bob were going to be moving on to Vermont, while MaryLou and Ken would be getting ready to move to Syracuse in a few years. How things change.
12: Here is Ethel and Bob at a wedding or a pharmacy gathering.
13: Now there's a chorus line! Ethel, MaryLou, Kay Sedlack and Eleanor Rickert. Both Kay and Eleanor have passed on. They were both wonderful women and that was a wonderful night.
14: Kathryn came along after Ethel and Bob adopted Sarah. Sometimes you relax not having to worry anymore about getting pregnant and voila!
15: Following the birth of Kathryn, came Rob. Ethel and Bob now had their boy. MaryLou and Ken had moved to Syracuse and Ethel and Bob were now settled back in the Albany area. At the time, we probably all wondered if we would ever be in the same town at the same time. Little did we know that so many changes would take place before we would settle down and be genuinely close again.
16: During this time some life changing events took place with both MaryLou and Ethel. In MaryLou's life, Gerry succumbed to multiple sclerosis after a battle with it since the age of 16. She took it very hard. Going to the wake and funeral was difficult but necessary. To make matters even more devastating, Ethel broke the news to MaryLou that she herself had the dreaded disease. Oh, how that hit her to the heart. How could this be? Two of the closest people in MaryLou's life struck with this. I have been so blessed to have been given two people who had a major cross to carry in life. This cross, thank God didn't travel the same path for both of them. I have been inspired by how Ethel faces life head on and doesn't let her struggles stop what she wants to do with her life. I've seen her frustrations. This has only increased my respect for her, since she trusts me enough to let her guard down.
17: Having owned the deli in Syracuse made a big difference in MaryLou's life. It brought out the business side in her. She eventually was managing the kitchen and ordering product from the suppliers. It improved her self esteem and prepared her for future job choices when the family moved back to Albany. When the deli was sold, Malette's Deli held a good bye party for the staff and reminisced about old times and how we made good friends from the loyal customers of the store.
18: This book wouldn't be complete without including "Mary and Bob". Bob's parents, Ethel's in-laws, MaryLou's aunt and uncle. They are a part of everyone's heart and memories involving family events and what dedication is all about.
20: 40th birthday celebration Ethel was right by MaryLou's side helping out in cutting the cake. The years are marching on.
21: The years did march on. The kids grew up. MaryLou and Ethel's dads passed on. It was tough on both since they were close to their dads. The decision was made to move back to Albany from Syracuse. Being home near our moms was important since they were now alone . This brought Ethel and MaryLou back to the same area again. Yay!!! It took some time after MaryLou had to go through some personal changes in her marriage to Ken and starting a new life on her own. It certainly wasn't easy but she came out a much stronger woman. The following pages are going to be pictures and memories of the last decade. We have become closer than ever as we have gotten older and have the time to spend with each other.
22: Happy Birthday, Bob!
23: MaryLou had the privilege of attending Aunt Mary's 94th birthday celebration. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and it was a real treat to be able to share this day. If I can be this good at 94, I wouldn't mind living this long. She still is pretty darn sharp.
24: Ethel and MaryLou were celebrating their 40 year high school reunion and they both decided to become part of the planning committee. It was terrific seeing classmates after so many years had passed.
25: The night of the reunion. It's funny how the same groups seem to gather together just as in high school. Some didn't age well, while others aged very well. All in all, it was a very interesting evening.
26: The following morning, we went to the memorial mass held at the school. This picture was taken in the school library where we were reminiscing over yearbooks.
27: Celebrating the 59th birthday of Ethel in October of 2011. They are closer than ever. How lucky can two people be than to have that special person through their life? Remember Do-Dr ?
28: MaryLou found her happy future in Mark Ives and they married on November 26, 2011. Ethel and Bob were among the very few intimate family and friends invited to the ceremony.
29: Here are the two couples on MaryLou's wedding day. They like Mark and Mark likes Ethel and Bob. Life is good.
30: I D O | Ethel, Bob, MaryLou and Mark all lived happily ever after, Amen.