She was a golden girl in our college days. A natural blond, she had
the lanky Julia Roberts look before Julia Roberts had it. She even
looked good in the awkward green pleated gym suits our college
required in the late fifties. “Bushy” was one of the most skilled
waitresses in the dining hall where she and I both worked. I used to
push myself to be faster in getting those bowls, platters, and jugs of
tea to the tables, especially when ravenous boys filled some of the
seats–and most especially because Bushy made it look so easy, but I
never could win the race. Not only was she quick–she was quick
witted. Even in the dining hall she had people laughing.
Bushy made good grades too. I was always amazed at her memory. She
never had to cram for algebra quizzes as I did, and when the grades
were posted, hers were among the best. She didn’t miss many social
events either–and she always had dates. Of course, you could guess
that one year she won the school beauty contest.
Like flickering snapshots , I still see her pretend swoons every time
Elvis came out with a new hit and her twirls of delight in the red
velveteen dress she made for a Christmas party one year. And then
there was the time a friend gave her a home permanent and that
beautiful blond hair looked like Little Orphan Annie’s for week or
two. “Now I really am bushy,” she said.
In most of the areas where Bushy shone, I decidedly did not. People
who know me now laugh at the description–especially my husband–but I
was shy back then. I rarely put myself forward in any way and almost
never socialized outside the dorm, so it is probably strange that she
and I were roommates for two years. I thought it was wonderful for
me. Not only did I bask in her glory, but I felt included in the
things I did participate in. I think I came to depend on that:
built-in friends, guaranteed acceptance.
Then came the summer Bushy went off to work at a resort. I stayed to
work on the college campus and for the first time I had no roommate.
At first it was lonely, and then I began to participate in a few
things. I got to know more people–even a couple of boys. Sometimes
several girlfriends gathered in my room for lively conversation.
Though we weren’t roommates again after that summer, Bushy and I still
got together for talks. I knew when she fell in love with the guy she
eventually married. I think I knew before she did, because she was
trying to talk herself out of it for a good while. “We’re not
serious. He’s just a lot of fun,” she would say. “He’s more fun than
anybody.” Several years later I learned from my own life experience
what that means–it means you’ve met a keeper.
So Bushy married the fun guy and they had three children and from all
accounts had a very successful and happy life. We have lived in
different parts of the country and haven’t seen each other since May
of 1961. Fifty-four years have passed, but although cancer has taken
her, Mary Ann is still that golden girl of our college years.
To many of us who know and love her, she always will be. Rest in
peace, my good friend.