When I was in second and third grade my best friend was Brad Livingston. He lived a few blocks from our house, and was in Miss Tieken and Mrs. Staley's classes with me at Columbia Elementary School. We were inseparable.
That's him at right, in our second grade class picture. This is more years ago than I care to acknowledge.
Just before the start of fourth grade my family moved to a distant city. At first Brad and I exchanged letters, but that didn't last long. Inevitably, we lost contact with each other.
But ah, this cursed memory of mine! I remember everybody. And I retain a sentimental spot for the kids I grew up with, even though I have long since learned that growing apart is part of growing up; is bound to happen, if not from geography then from divergent personalities.
All of which brings me to 2013, and the power of the Internet.
Yesterday, as this is written, something reminded me of my old childhood chum. I don't remember what. But I turned to Google, and entered his name and the city where we used to live.
It was just curiosity: I had no intention of contacting him, if I found him. In fact, I expected to get page after page of meaningless hits, or maybe a Facebook link to the wrong Brad.
Instead, I found an obituary.
I followed a link to a mortuary's web site. It had no details, other than place and year of birth. Both fit with the Brad I once knew.
The site had a Guest Book. A few dozen people had left entries. No one mentioned a cause of death, but there were enough clues for me to conclude it is almost certainly the same guy. Someone wrote, "I remember Brad from grade school at Columbia." (I didn't recognize her name.) Someone else wrote, "I lived across the street from him on Hudson."
Next I Googled for a map of the city he must never have left, and where I used to live. I can't remember my address from back then. But I remembered the street name, and found it. Hudson was right nearby. So were a few other streets whose names I recalled. It all adds up.
He died three years ago.
You never know: it could be a different Brad. More than once I've searched names far less common and found matches to the wrong person. So if I've got the wrong guy, and if by some beyond-remote chance you see this, Brad: oops.
But I think it's you.
So long, old friend.