by Neta Jackson
The World’s Fair was hosted by Seattle in 1962, the year I graduated from high school. “What?” said my forty-two-year-old daughter when I mentioned this the other day. “The Space Needle wasn’t already in Seattle when you moved there as a kid?” To her, the Space Needle was THE symbol for Seattle, and of course always has been.
But to us as teenagers, the Seattle World’s Fair was a magical place—fountains dancing with colored lights . . . modern buildings housing new scientific discoveries and different cultures and amazing innovations . . . people from all over the world walking the fairgrounds, pointing and laughing and taking pictures. And of course, the Space Needle, from which one could see Mount Rainer hovering over the city, white-and-green ferries chugging back and forth across Puget Sound, and the majestic Olympic Mountains across the Sound rising above the Olympic Peninsula.
So of course the fairground was the place to hang out for us teenagers, even after the Fair was over.
One weekend, a group of five or six of us girlfriends were just walking around the fairgrounds, ogling the boys and giggling and teasing each other. Especially teasing me. (Was it because I was the high school principal’s kid, the “goody goody”?) “C’mon, Neta, why don’t you pretend to faint and see what happens?”
“Are you kidding? No!”
“Oh, c’mon. Are you chicken?”
“No, it’s just stupid.”
They kept teasing and I kept saying No, and they finally stopped.
That’s when I dropped to the ground, pretending to faint.
As I lay on the ground, my mind scrambled. Uh-oh. What now?
I began to hear unfamiliar voices. “What happened?” “Is she okay?” “Should we call an ambulance?” A small crowd was gathering. And peeking through my eyelashes, I saw a set of blue trousers with a yellow stripe down the outside of the legs push through the crowd coming toward me.
Yikes. The police!
That’s when my best friend, Heather, took over. “No, no. You don’t need to call an ambulance. She just has these fainting fits from time to time, but they only last a few minutes. See? I think she’s coming around now!”
Taking her cue, I said, “Uhhh,” and slowly sat up. “Oh, dear,” I murmured. “I must’ve blacked out for a minute.”
The policeman crouched down beside me. “Sure you’re okay, young lady?”
“Oh, she’s gonna be fine,” Heather said confidently. “She just needs a drink of water—oh. I see a fountain over there. C’mon, Neta. Let’s get a drink.” Heather helped me stand up and kept her arm around my waist as we made our way—slowly—over to the water fountain, both of us trying hard not to bust out laughing.
The crowd lost interest and dispersed. The policeman walked off to more important things. I took a drink from the water fountain and looked around. That’s when I noticed. “Where are the other girls?”
Heather made a disgusted face. “Huh. They took off the minute you dropped to the ground. The finks.”
She got that right. Heather was the only one who stayed—and “saved me” with her presence and how-to-get-out-of-this-mess chatter.
Fifty-plus years later, I can’t even remember the names of the other “friends” who were with me that day. But Heather is still my best friend, even though we live 2000 miles apart. We talk on the phone. We write. We pray for each other. We give each other advice and sympathy for life’s various disappointments and disasters, we cheer when something good happens.
My forever friend.
Like the writer of Proverbs said, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 (NLT).
Neta Jackson and her husband Dave are an award-winning husband-and-wife writing team, the authors or coauthors of more than 130 books that have sold over 2.5 million copies. They are best known for Neta’s Yada Yada Prayer Group series and its sequels, as well as their forty-volume Trailblazer series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes for young readers. Neta and Dave raised two children and are now enjoying all the “grands”! The Jacksons are thankful for their multi-cultural church and neighborhood in the Chicago area, which provide the characters and setting for their novels.