Friends after all these years

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 15, 2002

Women nationwide are celebrating the fourth annual National Women’s Friendship Day today. Created by Kappa Delta Sorority for women everywhere, offering an opportunity for women to recognize those friends who play important roles in their lives.

Joy Beers, president of the local KD alumnae chapter, commented &uot;We all get busy with our everyday lives and forget to keep in touch with those who are important to us. National Women’s Friendship Day offers a chance to stop for a minute and give thanks to our friends.&uot;

Women celebrate the day by sending cards, making phone calls, sharing dinner, even planning a special event. And through the years a true friend has been there in good times and in bad. Sunday is a chance to say &uot;Thank you.&uot;

In Selma on Sunday, Louise &uot;Tootie&uot; McFaddin Gould and Claude Melvin Pruet will recognize more than seven decades of friendship, which began in Sunday School at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and has continued through the years. Tootie went to Dallas Academy, Claude to Byrd School but in Selma Junior High their friendship really began.

They were members of the Eta Rho girls club, which had a membership of more than 25 girls, who met each week &uot;for fun&uot; and had a dance at the Harmony Club each year until graduation from Selma High School in 1936. Neither could recall the name of the band that always played, but both remember the sparkling ball that hung from the ceiling of the third floor ballroom.

And they laughed about the identical dresses they had made for the occasion, &uot;with material ordered by Mr. Ike Cadden, who gave us a wholesale price because his daughter Jeanne was in Eta Rho. I think it cost $5 each to have the dresses made. They were plaid and we thought they were great,&uot; Claude said.

In September of 1936, the two climbed aboard &uot;the rickety old bus&uot; that left from the comer of Broad Street and Dallas Avenue, with their trunk and suitcases piled in the back. Their destination: the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. &uot;And we were thrilled to death,&uot; Tootie says.

They were met by friends, who escorted them to their dormitory, where other Selma girls were staying and had a wonderful time unpacking their matching bedspreads, curtains and accessories, which they had spent the summer gathering. They remained in the dorm only a year before moving into the Kappa Delta House, &uot;which was full of Selma girls.&uot;

After the years at the University both young women came home, took a business course and went to work: Claude at Selma National Bank and Tootie at Peoples Bank, then Cawthon-Coleman Wholesale Drug Co. and eventually at Craig Field. Both married young officers at the air base in 1942, were stationed at various bases but they kept in touch. After World War 11 ended they returned to Selma with their young families. When Grace Gould Hobbs was born, Claude was named her godmother. And Tootie became the godmother of the Pruets’ son David.

Their friendship continues. &uot;There is nothing more wonderful than having a friend to share your life,&uot; says Tootie.