Carol’s visit – still friends after all these years

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Her plans were specific, but we kept warning my oldest friend Carol Dannettell that the distances are longer than she remembered. She planned to visit a former college roommate in Marietta, then to Peachtree City, then to cousins in Greenwood, SC, Parkersburg, WV, and New Cumberland, PA, with a stop to see a grandson in Washington, DC, before flying home to San Diego from Baltimore.

And most of this on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In a week.

Got an e-mail today, and while she doesn’t mention cousins or the Blue Ridge, they certainly covered a lot of mileage.

We were neighbors in Harrisburg, PA in 2nd or 3rd grade. She was a diminutive blonde – still is diminutive – but now has most beautiful head of soft gray hair I’ve ever seen.

The “Ollie” Biederman I thought I remembered didn’t live in Harrisburg. He and Carol Dannettell met in St. Louis where they were both studying medicine. Ollie is a physician, an internist, and Carol a registered nurse.

I didn’t realize Ollie was a doctor until well into their visit here. He has “retired,” meaning he sits on lots of boards and does charity work, and still sees patients just one day a week.

Aha. That explains the one-week road trip.

Ollie is tall, bearded, and squints his eyes when he laughs. He runs and walks competitively, was enchanted by the golf carts and paths here, pronouncing Peachtree City absolutely perfect.

The other member of our neighborhood gang was Eddie Brenner, whom Carol was planning to marry when she grew up. She didn’t. We don’t know what happened to him. And I’ve written before that I looked up Lois Anservitz, the roller-skate queen on our block, to discover she had died just weeks before I punched her name into Google. She made something of herself as a teacher and a real leader of youth, as well as an entrepreneur in a limousine service.

The Dannettell-Biedermans have four children, three daughters and a son. The family lived in a Kibbutz in Israel for nine years. In fact, their last daughter was born there. Today all but one are married and have families of their own.

Oh, and four grandchildren, one about to graduate college…

Carol is still studying Asian religions, but says she believes there is one god and all creatures belong to that being.

Ollie is Jewish, although not strict, and they are both semi-vegetarians. They were married in a Unitarian church, and Carol says she found Zionism and Israel in the 60s and 70s “idealistic and inspiring.”

She says, “We lived on a Kibbutz which was a democratic socialistic farm where the president, the apple pickers, and the garbage man were all equals, with equal say in the running of the farm.”

But back to our time together. With my infamously worn-out memory, Carol provided me with a great opportunity to borrow from hers.

Replaying our neighborhood reminiscences, Carol said, “Eddie was my boyfriend, if you can call it that in second grade (I don't know if he thought so but I guess I did). We used to re-enact a movie called ‘So Proudly We Hailed’ about the Bataan -Corregidor episode.

“We played the hospital in the cave and our password was ‘blood and guts.’ Eddie always wanted to be one of the female nurses and Lois wanted to be one of the boy soldiers.”


I’ve got to ask her where or what was “the cave.” I know we loved to hide in dark places, and “the cave” may have been under the low floor of – well, today we’d say “our deck,” but I don’t believe the architecture in Harrisburg, PA in the early 40s included “decks.” I guess we can call it a porch.

I didn’t realize she also traveled all the way across town to take piano and voice lessons. She said she changed buses in the square all by herself. I took piano too, but from a teacher who lived close enough that I could easily ride my bicycle for lessons.

Her Army officer dad died in 1963 of a heart attack. “My mother lived to be 95 years old,” Carol mused. “At 90 she was still driving to the Marine Hospital to do Red Cross work shopping for the Marines in the hospital, bringing them birthday cakes and magazines.”

The Biedermans are also vegetarians, eat fish and a little cheese. Ollie runs for exercise and did marathons until several years ago. He does volunteer work at an AIDS clinic at UCSD and a general clinic in Tiajuana, Carol said.

She does volunteer disaster work in the Red Cross which she says is keeping her busy at the moment. “My exercise is Karate, Ninjitsu, and Tai Chi, and walking the dog two miles every other day.”

Well, by Tuesday, last week, she wrote that they were home and had accomplished most of their goals. “We had very exciting tours of the Antietam, South Mountain, and Gettysburg battlefields,” she said. “At the first one we joined a group of Boy Scouts and a Lutheran minister gave us a wonderfully detailed description of the whole thing, Bloody Lane, West Woods, Cornfield, and all.”

Carol is also a genealogist, a history buff, and a poet. She was delighted when the Ranger gave her a detailed list of the 19th Indiana Volunteers, the ‘Iron Brigade’ in which her grandfather's half-brother fought. That was one tough bunch of Indiana farm boys.

I’ll share her poetry with you another time.

I’m so glad she came.

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