Facebook friend found me

By Kevin Gray

Over the years, I’ve become savvy about finding old friends by using the internet. Much of this took place, even before I dove into Facebook, which has helped put me in touch with so many more people I last saw more than 40 years ago.

Originally, I had to find comrades of old because I was busy writing stories about my youth and those days. Memories of childhood chums included adventures in a creek behind my house, on our bicycles which with every daily excursion took me and sometimes me with my buddy Brad Wells farther from home. Brad and I were inseparable best friends.

There had been no worry about finding my best friend from junior high and high school, Ronnie Stillman, because he and I never lost touch. But, there were others like Mike McAdam, who had a popular garage band among the several from our high school. After graduation and our trip together to New York City with Ronnie to see B.B. King, Mike continued playing guitar and ended up in Nashville.

In what was turning out to be a memoir called On the Strand, I figured my high school girlfriend should see what I had written. Would she tell me where to jump off? Or would she be cool with the whole story? I had to find out.

Paula, I called her in the manuscript, as well as many other friends from my past, needed to see what I was writing. Did my memory match theirs? And, then, there was Paula’s best friend, called Frankie in the book. Frankie had hooked Paula and me up on a blind date, which led to “going steady,” and all that vintage high school “promise ring stuff.” By the way, Paula liked the original manuscript.

And so, over time, I found Brad, Mike, Frankie, many others, including Paula, but I figured a few would have to be lost to time and distance.

Kenny Dunaway had been such a good friend. Had he been one of two guys stuffed in my trunk on a drive-in movie outing? I wasn’t proof positive about that trunk memory. What I did remember is how often his girlfriend, one of our high school’s cheerleaders, used to double with Paula and me. Or, later, when the second of three draft lotteries played out over radio airways to select the latest inductees to send to Vietnam, I thought he was there with Paula and me, but I could only see her and Ronnie in my memory. Not the other guys in the room.

I had written about a particularly fun trip to Virginia Beach. Ronnie, Kenny, and I had a room at the Tides Motel very near the beach in 1969 and no parents along. We were all 16. I cut this scene from the final book draft because I couldn’t find him to share my Kenny moments with him. Or to quiz him about his trip memories!

All through the years, I’ve been searching for Kenny. Over Christmas 2011, I tried another Facebook and an internet search. No luck. And, then, just over a week ago, I got a Facebook email that read, “Kevin is that you? This is Kenny, now Brad. If so, hope all is well.” Talk about taking my breath away. No wonder, I couldn’t find Kenny.

Kenny, I mean Brad – this is confusing – Dunaway, had left our high school to attend a military academy to get on the right track. He ended up on New York City’s Broadway using his other given name, also his father’s name, Bradford, as part of his professional stage name. I had forgotten his father had died, when Brad was still a toddler.

Needless to say, we have been chattering back and forth. He married a fellow performer he had met, when they were doing “Fiddler on the Roof”’ in 1981 on Broadway, left New York to live in Florida, where they sell real estate and teach Zumba, a Latin dance fitness program.

Never had I pictured the Kenny I knew as a dancer. Actor maybe, but not dancer! But, I’m sure he couldn’t imagine me becoming a teacher/writer, either. As for his take on my book, he wrote, “Am about one third through and absolutely love it. I am laughing out loud sometimes. Déjà vu. I can’t put it down.” And, yes, he was in the trunk at the drive-in and in that room the day of the lottery.

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Posted by admin on Jan 19 2011. Filed under Kevin Gray, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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