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Friendship means not having a reason to call

A North Florida woman I met at a church gathering this past weekend was speaking of being a widow. She told of her experience since her husband's death five years ago, of the many friends who had rallied around, and she touched only lightly on those who had not, for that was not her concern. What she was concerned about was one particular close friend, one who, she said, "still pretends all this hasn't happened."

"How do you mean?" I wanted to know.

"Well, for one thing, she hasn't learned the value of calling up just for nothing."

The woman now always had to call with a purpose. She wasn't "easy" enough to call just to chat.

Real friendship doesn't have to have a reason to call, does it? And yet I have been so guilty of this myself. I think with me it has been work schedules that have put the restraints on me. Not my working schedules, but those of other people. I'm so afraid I'll call when they are eating, watching a favorite program, catching a welcome nap, or heavily involved in office work at home that I call only when I have a valid reason, state my purpose and get off the phone.

I feel their time at home is too valuable, that they don't want to just chat.

After a while, you miss out on a lot of a person's life this way.

Remember that you knew Carlos Rainwater when. For Rainwater, who is director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the state of Florida, has just been named to the national American Red Cross Board of Governors. He has been chapter chairman of the South Pinellas Chapter, which is now part of the Tampa Bay Suncoast Chapter, and is on the board and executive committee here. He leaves his post as volunteer chairman of Region IV to take the national position, where he'll be meeting monthly with Elizabeth Dole when she moves from labor secretary to become president of the American Red Cross in January.

Meanwhile, Carlos' wife Barby Rainwater, local quilter of note, was asked to speak at the recent Network on Aging Conference in Orlando, of which Gerald Buchert, director of the Office on Aging for St. Petersburg, was chairman. Her topic was the passing of crafts from one generation to another, "and when I got there and saw there were a thousand people there, I panicked," said Mrs. Rainwater, particularly when she noted that Lawton Chiles was to be the next speaker. She says she fell apart, her speech deteriorated into a series of one-liners.

"Quilting will never be the same," she lamented.

Buchert says, "Not so. The previous talks had been very poignant, and we needed a little comic relief, besides the excellent information Barby provided."

Mrs. Rainwater wore a 75-year-old Seminole Indian skirt and told the group of her theory that the popular strip quilting originated with the Seminoles, whose history she has studied, as her husband is a Seminole. She has taught quilting to people with cerebral palsy and, through interpreters, to the deaf.

A recent New York Times opera review hailed Christopher Trakas as "outstanding as Schaunard" in the New York City Opera production of La Boheme. Trakas is the son of SPIFFS director Anna Trakas and Pedro Trakas, and they, and all of us, are justifiably proud of one of our own.

While Glynna Hanchette conducts "ghost walks" every Friday for guests and interested parties at the Don CeSar hotel on St. Petersburg Beach, today's special Halloween Ghost Walk at 5:45 p.m. will have an added other worldly dimension. The 1{-hour tour and historical narrative about the hotel and some of its famous guests of yesteryear will include ghost guests F. Scott Fitzgerald and his love Zelda, as well as Thomas Rowe, creator and founder of the Don. You're invited, and it's free.

Saturday brings the Salvation Army Christmas Bazaar, to take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Citadel, 3800 Ninth Ave. N. You'll find baked goods, knitted items, crafts, ceramics and dolls.

The St. Petersburg Historical Museum has its third annual Holiday Ornament and Gift Preview on Nov. 8, 9, 10 and 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the first three days and 1 to 4 p.m. the last. It's at the museum, 335 Second Ave. NE. If you want to make it a lunch hour trip, there'll be box lunches available from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 8. Reservations and $6 are needed for this.