Good Morning
Good Morning

My Turn: A friendship spanning 60 years

Bertha Heelan, left, and Doris Turner reunited in

Bertha Heelan, left, and Doris Turner reunited in August 2015 on Beekman Beach in Oyster Bay, where they met in 1955. They get together every five years to toast their friendship. Credit: Doris Turner

What can you say about a friendship that has lasted 60 years?

Well, I can say it’s been wonderful.

Bertha and I met through a mutual friend at Beekman Beach in Oyster Bay. I was 13 and she was 12. Bertha’s family ran the concession stand. I lived in Long Island City, but I spent summers and weekends in Oyster Bay, visiting my aunt and uncle.

In 1960, I got married and moved to Oyster Bay, where I raised my three children.

Bertha got married in 1963 and has two children.

We were both very busy raising children, but we always found time to be in all sorts of community clubs and activities.

We talked every morning on the phone at 9 after the kids went off to school.

When my husband, Jim, was in the Navy, Bertha and I shared a two-family house on Maxwell Avenue. She and her husband, Pete, were very supportive because I lived alone with two small children.

Bertha moved to Naples, Florida, in 2007. We talk on the phone all the time. She comes north to visit her family and makes a point of doing it every five years so we can celebrate our friendship on Beekman Beach with Champagne and take pictures.

Last year, August 2015, was our 60th year as friends.

Through thick and thin, no matter what happens, we are always there for each other.

Doris Turner


Outside the box

The other day, I received an interesting gift from a dear friend in England. It was beautifully gift wrapped and, as I tore open the paper, I found an exquisite box that had originated in Paris — it looked as though it should be adorning a Victorian lady’s boudoir. Covered in the palest shell pink silk, it was embellished with lace, gold thread and silk ribbon roses. It was truly a work of art. I carefully removed the lid to see that the box was lined in palest pink padded satin, and it was empty.

When I thanked my friend, she told me it was a box to hold my precious treasures. I was rather taken aback as I have no material treasures. I do not want any and I do not need any. For my treasures would never fit into that beautiful box and could not be seen with “normal” vision.

My precious treasures are the valuable memories of family and friends that have endured for over half a century and are as bright as ever. It is the treasure of knowing that I can paint and have been able to show other people how to put their feelings on paper and value the beauty of nature; see the Technicolor sunsets; experience the serenity of a peaceful summer beach and the wonder of silence in a snowy winter scene.

It is a treasure to remember my children’s early days and the pleasure they brought us. The treasure that we have lived happily in the same house for 62 years. All of these treasures could never fit into that beautiful box. So if you look into my box and see it empty, I see a box spilling over with memories and treasures of a lifetime.

Gladys McConnell


More Lifestyle