Nancy Lou-hoo. That’s how her Mom called for her when it was time for Nancy Lou to come home. We always made fun of the “extra” syllable. I grew up on an Iowa farm but I was lucky enough to have a “next door” neighbor; Nancy Lou was my age. We went back and forth between our houses, but we didn’t use the sidewalk —we walked across a pasture or cow yard to get to each other. There was a spot in the fence between our farms that I always crawled through. We played together often. Even now I can follow the path to her house….
We often met in the middle, especially after Nancy Lou’s brothers built a play house for us in the small meadow by the creek. The house was a concrete slab with reclaimed wood sides and a bench with a table . There was no roof but we didn’t care. We busied ourselves with decorating our humble abode. Of course our mothers donated a few cracked dishes, some vases and silverware they were going to throw away. Nancy Lou had a decoy duck that she brought for decoration. I remember when she was mad at me for some childish reason she marched up the hill to her house proclaiming “I’m taking my duck and I don’t want to play anymore!” I tearfully reported to my Mom “She took her duck! She took her duck!” Of course, Nancy Lou and the duck returned the next day and play continued. Nancy Lou and I
had our own rules and we were a team.
As we grew up our playhouse grew up to, it became the big culvert we could stand up in under the gravel road. We were in our “hood “ and the writing was on the walls of the culvert. We had the sex talk there, our expert was Nancy Lou’s first cousin “Toots”. I am not making this up! Toots had told Nancy Lou how sex worked and we had a hard time believing the picture she painted, and mostly I remember Nancy Lou and I saying “Ew, ew, I don’t believe it.” Puberty and high school highlighted the differences between us, Nancy Lou was cute and was a cheerleader and I was not. Boyfriends and the popular crowd separated us but our connection to each other was cemented by our childhood bond. We were never unkind to each other. We went our separate ways after high school. I left the area and she stayed and was married and had a family.
A few days ago my sister who lives back home called to let me know that Nancy Lou had passed away suddenly. A trickle of memories became a deluge and I remembered how we used to play in the basement when it was snowy, how her bedroom looked like a princess lived there, how she cried when her brother died from a brain tumor and I hugged her. It is impossible for me to remember my childhood without the one constant in my life, Nancy Lou.
Rest In Peace and I will meet you in the middle.
Nancy Lou Hruska
Born: December 5, 1951
Died: December 1, 2017