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I have been blessed with wonderful girlfriends at every stage of my life. The next few posts, I am going to describe these laides and share how they influenced my life.

Sandi Howie

I met Sandi as a little girl in “First Form” (kindergarten) while my family lived in St. Andrews, Scotland. Sandi was my best pal at school.  She had short, brown, “bonnie” hair, freckles across her nose, and a flashing smile.  I remember running with her to the lorry (truck) that sold buns (donuts) during recess. She bought a chocolate bun and offered to share it with me. But as we were walking to a bench, Sandi dropped the precious donut! Of course, it landed frosting side down. But this didn’t phase Sandi one bit. She promptly picked up the bun and carried it over to the drinking fountain, where she calmly rinsed off some of the dirty chocolate icing. Then we both devoured a rather soggy, yet still delicious, donut. That was Sandi–plucky and resourceful!

My family moved away from St,. Andrews after 2 ½ years to relocate to Pasadena, California. At our goodbye gathering, Sandi gave me a miniature Celtic cross, set in a tiny block of green marble from the island. I kept it as a treasure in my jewelry box for years.

Sandi and I became pen pals. I relished her funny letters, written in fountain pen (that’s what you have to learn to write with in Scotland—not thick pencils!) on thin, blue airmail paper, and containing hilarious sketches. Then, after my freshman year in college (1980) I got to travel back to St. Andrews and met up with Sandi again. She was even more mischievous than ever. We were sitting at a bus stop one afternoon, waiting to go visit her parents. Sandi pulled out a great big red clown nose and said, “Put this on and I’ll wear one, too–then get on the bus!” I am the type who always wants to fit in and never be noticed, so I was appalled at her suggestion. But she kept pestering me, so on went the nose. We both strode onto the bus with these clown noses on, and were rewarded with shocked and amused smiles and giggles from the other passengers. That was Sandi—why not shake everybody out of their ordinary duldrums and add a bit of levity to life? We spend several days walking around to all her favorite haunts in St. Andrews, where she was a student at St. Andrews University, majoring in geology. She introduced me to “Squashed Fly” biscuits—shortbread cookies with raisins in them—from the local bakery. She also gave me a sterling silver necklace of Saint Andrews on his cross that I still have today. She also made me a delicious pan of Scottish lasagne (betcha didn’t know there was such a thing!)—and I copied the recipe down in my Scottish spiral notebook filled with mementos of the summer..

After our reunion, we kept in touch. Sandi wrote and told me she had met the love of her life, a bloke named Malcolm Townsley, and they were living together in a re-modeled thatched-roofed barn in Northern Ireland. She said I was always welcome to come visit her—which I longed to do. But life got in the way….marriage and children and careers filled the years…

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped receiving letters from Sandi. But I have lost her. I haven’t been able to find her on Facebook. All I know is she became a geologist and worked as one in Ireland. I can’t find her brother, Graeham, or her parents, either. I wish I could find her. I miss hearing about her latest escapades. Maybe someone reading this will know how I could research and locate her!   I hope she is still running around, wearing clown noses and washing off donuts…either on this earth or in the next. Thank you, Sandi, for being my first girl friend!