Saturday, August 11, 2007

Getting Together To Say Goodbye . . . .

Irene Helbling
Lucas Family Friend for
Over 50 Years
We will miss so much our dear family friend, Irene Helbling. As all of us describe it, the Helblings were the perfect next door neighbors - there was someone in the family for each of the Lucas girls. Diane was just a little older than me, Carol was Marie's age and Bonnie and Nancy came along at almost the same time.
So many of my memories of the first house I lived in on Gardena Ave. in Glendale include the Helbling family. I first met Diane when I was 5 years old while recovering from getting my tonsils out and leaning out my brother's bedroom window pushing kid's gin rummy cards under the screen to her. We were friends ever since. Irene never seemed to mind us kids playing at her house and especially with her 45 rpm record changer. She had great rock-and-roll records. We would stack them on that little black and red square player and do the twist in Irene and Hep's bedroom with the lilac skirted bed. Irene and her husband "Hep" came out to California from Pennsylvania and they always talked about "back home". I am a native, so that sounded so far away. Irene loved to talk and she was so much fun to listen to --- a 10 minute conversation and everyone was up-to-date with the family goings on. Summers with the Helblings next door always included all of the kids laying on their stomachs watching black and white tv and eating watermelon. Life on Gardena was full of roller skating, bicycles and playing in each other houses. I remember going through the Helbling's wedding album and looking at the beautiful pictures. When the Helblings moved to Downey I think my whole family cried inside. Dad and Hep could no longer talk outside while watering the lawns. The moms could not go shopping or talk about the kid's ups and downs. We went to visit them at their new home and I would sometimes stay overnight and go to the beach with them in the summer. I spent the night with Diane the night before her wedding. She looked like a princess in the most beautiful dress with a wide full skirt, but life takes over from that point and we were no longer kids.
Seeing Diane, Carol and Bonnie at Irene's very sweet memorial service reminded me of how our families got started together. No matter how much time passes between visits and Christmas card letters, we are friends forever. Irene, the Lucas family loves you very much and will miss you.

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