Excursions and social events with the Lees were in stark contrast to the cake-and-ice-cream parties of my other friends and the pot roast dinners at my grandparents’ farm. Our gang of fifth-graders celebrated Barbara’s birthday eating pizza and throwing peanuts on the floor at Bimbo’s in downtown Ann Arbor. We giggled and sang along with a piano player who grinned as he played “Ain’t She Sweet?” and “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two).”
I tagged along once to Eastern Market in Detroit. Barbara, her brother Tom, and I trailed as Ann and Chuck bought exotic fruits, vegetables, and spices. I ate my first tacos and refried beans with them in Mexicantown that day.
In seventh grade at Belleville Junior High School, Barbara and I attended different classes, made new friends, and drifted apart. The Lees moved to California the following summer, when Chuck, an electro-
optical engineer at KMS in Ann Arbor, was transferred. But Barbara and I stayed in touch through letters. After I graduated from high school I visited her in California. After earning her art degree in Santa Barbara, she stopped by to see me at my efficiency apartment in Ypsilanti before she went to live in Australia. Later she moved to New York City, married, had two sons, and taught grade school like her mother.