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Friends together watch their childhood fly

Friends together watch their childhood fly

By Rick Hinton

I’ve always heard that as you grow older, time accelerates. Yes, sir. It’s no longer the long, endless summers of our youth, seeming to stretch forever. Yep … no longer. Our past becomes that – just our past – as we accelerate time into an often uncertain future, and in the process, grow older. They say, “If only I could go back then to what I know now!” Yep, pretty much! Friends and acquaintances who helped to shape and define those past days often disappear, becoming only a memory. However, sometimes these very “ghosts” of the past return. And … just when you need them most!

Paul Echart and I on a beach in Canada. Bruce Lee died that day. (Photos by Rick Hinton)

Mike Foster is my oldest friend from the haze of school days. He was there when junior high school transformed into an arena of horror for a young teen. Has been there since. Paul Echart came along after high school and Warren Central ended, but is no less important because we didn’t happen to “hang” in high school. We eventually did “hang”. The three of us eventually lived together in one incarnation or another. We became partners in life, crime, a new world of self discovery and halfheartedly exploring our lot in life. Those were strange days indeed!

Always blue jeans, and most often no shirts; cowboy hats, no ball caps; a diet of the Marshall Tucker Band, Pure Prairie League and Poco for enlightenment; camping and caving near Bloomington to soothe the soul; an impromptu trip with Paul to Canada, then one to the Mardi Gras where we were almost arrested in Mississippi and our van blew an engine as we rolled into New Orleans. Yes … those precious moments!

A caving trip to the outskirts of Bloomington. From left to Right: Kim Benz, Paul Echart and Mike Foster.

My friend Mike invested – working his way to his first million dollars – in two houses on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis long before the current renovation craze. He had decided to become a slumlord. It was all good! He talked Paul and I into living in an apartment in one of the houses. Yes … we were the hit of the neighborhood! During that cold winter we often found ourselves often lying in a crawlspace under one of the homes, fixing busted water pipes in the middle of the night; collecting weekly rent required while carrying a gun; and most often finding a homeless person sleeping in our car when we left to go to work in the morning.

Mike Foster and I seriously contemplating “stuff” on a visit to Arkansas.

Yet, there are those memories – fuzzy, yet timeless: frugal Mike providing the food (often buying cases of unlabeled can goods that became a surprise when opened); sitting on the stone porch with the neighbors, sipping adult brew and watching cars march forth on Delaware Street; playing drums (me), congas (me) and electric guitar (not me), fully knowing that all of the other residents of the house, and street, were listening, trying to make sense of it all.

Young Rick Hinton, in the mode of the time in the 1970s.

The three of us have reconnected. Was there any doubt that at some point we would? Friends are eternal. We hold them close. They’re an heirloom to our past, growth and hopefully a part of our future. Never let them go!

“It seems to me a crime that we should age,
These fragile times should never slip us by,
A time you never can or should erase,
As friends together watch their childhood fly.” – Elton John, “Friends” (1971).

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