The Gospel According to Kaye Halter: The Book of Elise

In the year of 1935 I met a girl named Elpiniky Aspridy. We were in the first grade at #34 School on Lexington Ave in Rochester NY.

I don't remember exactly how we became friends, but we were soon spending time together playing hopscotch, jacks, hide and seek, and climbing my neighbor's black cherry tree. In the winter, we would pour water down our steep driveway and make an icy slide to ride down on our sleds. We'd have a lookout watching for cars so we could zoom down Marilyn Street.

That was a big thrill at the time, but when I saw that same driveway recently, I thought it had shrunk! We did not have iPods, TV, organized baseball, etc. or cell phones so we had to entertain ourselves.

Things were so different then.

As a matter of fact, as I am recalling this era I don't recall anyone walking to school with me. My mother did not drive and the school was at least 9 long blocks from my home on Ravine Avenue and I had to cross busy Dewey Avenue. Another friend, Rosie Dean, and Elise were on my route so we would always walk to school together.

I forgot to explain that Elpiniky's teacher decided she should be renamed Elise! I never knew why, but the name seemed appropriate.

One of the funniest happenings I remember when we were still in grammar school was the rain barrel trick. I decided it would be fun to climb in the barrel in Elise's back yard. I scrunched myself down to the bottom with my knees bent and when I tried to stand up to get out, I discovered I didn't have room to straighten my legs. Elise got her Mother to come to the rescue and they managed to yank me out.

I always loved Elise's Mother. She was quite small and had a very sweet face. At that age, I found her heavy Greek accent very interesting and there were always wonderful aromas of good things cooking. So we had yummy cookies and milk after school. Not ketchup or brown sugar bread like I served at my house.

When we got to High School, we were invited to join Alpha Theta Sorority. We had to be slaves to our masters and suffered torture at the initiation. Anyway, we wound up with goop in our hair, garlic breath and looking a mess and feeling worse. Needless, to say, our parents were not there to pick us up so we rode home on the bus in that condition. However did we survive this period.

After graduation, Elise was working somewhere and I went to RIT on an art scholarship. I met Mike Anderson there and we dated for several months. During this time we decided to fix one of his best friends up with Elise for a double date. This friend and Elise were married eventually in a beautiful ceremony in the chapel at Colgate Divinity School. And I got to sing 2 very traditional wedding songs which you never hear anymore - "I Love You Truly" and "Because".

Before that happened Jack got back from Japan and asked me to marry him. Without Elise, this couldn't have happened, because when I got to the church, I discovered I had left Jack's ring at home. We gave Elise the key and she managed to find the ring and get it back in time for the ceremony.

I had the first baby on May 5th 1951. A beautiful boy we named Kim Jon Halter. Soon after they had Todd Clickner. And on May 3rd, 1957 Trina Clickner entered the world. Not to be outdone, I produced Holly Sue Halter on May 6th, 1957.

I can't leave out "The Thing" story. I guess I have to explain that when this happened there was a crazy song playing on the radio all day about a guy finding a weird object on the beach. There were contests to guess what it could be or to create one etc. Anyway, Elise had invited Jack and I over for dinner one night. As she was preparing to heat the rolls, she opened the preheated oven and there was THE THING!!! She had stored some cupcakes in a plastic bowl and the bowl had melted and dripped between the metal shelf with the cupcakes stuck on top. I don't remember how Marv got that off, but we probably had cold buns that night.

One of my favorite family outings we shared were our February recess trips to Ellicottville ski area. We had such a great deal including accommodations, meals at different restaurants in town, ski lessons, and even hot dogs cooked on a grill at the top of the mountain. Of course, everyone, especially the kids could ski better than Elise and I. One day Elise and I were on our own and got on a different trail. As we came around a curve, I saw the really steep slope and tried to warn Elise. She couldn't stop and wound up crashing at the bottom while I walked down carrying my skis. Luckily she landed softly and wasn't hurt and nobody saw me being chicken.

I was always amazed at Elise's memory and that will be one of things I will miss most since I can't remember where I was yesterday. Even last Summer when I spent a week with her, she told me stories about things I had done or events involving friends. I used to say, "Did I really do that?" and she would assure me I really did and whatever it was I did, I did it better than anyone else could possibly do it!! She was my biggest fan.

If she couldn't think of something good to say, she didn't say it. I am very fortunate to have had this very special friend to love and to cherish for over 70 years.

She will be with me in spirit always.