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Friends for life

April 29, 1999

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




They were friends at Hagerstown High School in the mid-1940s, and they are friends today. All have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries.

Four couples - Dean and Madeline "Matt" McNamee, Raymond "Moe" and Betty Rinehart, Russ and Jean Hartle and Richard "Dick" and Betty Myers - are living proof of the power of friendship and long-lasting love.

[cont. from lifestyle]

They don't "run around" together as much as they used to, but they still enjoy each others' company. The Rineharts and the Hartles have traveled to Florida together for several years, and they play cards together once a week. In the past year, they've gathered for golden anniversary parties, and the mere mention of old times evoked memories and gales of laughter all around.

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Dick Myers, 70, and Moe Rinehart, 71, have been friends since first grade. They recall riding their bicycles from Hagerstown to a farm on Mapleville Road near Boonsboro, where they stayed all week to pick berries when they were about 13 and 14 years old. It rained one day, so they took Moe's jacket, put it on a wet horse and rode through the farmer's field. The pair remembers being "big spenders," taking their earnings - they got 3 or 4 cents a box - to a store instead of working one day. They got fired.

Dean McNamee and Dick Myers played football at Hagerstown High School and got a mention in "Shower Room Statistics," Tom Parks' column in "Who, Where and What," the school newspaper: "... Starting in his third year of playing for H.H.S. is Dean McNamee, a star in the passing field. ... Well-liked by all (and especially by Madeline) this vocational student ranks high in our minds."

"Dick Myers is our next player and he is noted for his fine work as left tackle for the Hubs. ... Often seen at the Val with Betty, this vacational (sic) boy will graduate with the class of 1946."

Dean McNamee was a "three-letter man," playing football, basketball and baseball at Hagerstown High School. He and Russ Hartle went on to play semi-professional baseball. For a while they were on the same South Mountain league team - the Keedysville Mud Hens. Throughout the fellows' athletic careers, friends were there to watch the games.

The group attended Friday night dances at Franklin Court on Franklin Street, and Saturday night dances at the YMCA. Jean Hartle and Betty Rinehart remember the song "Three Little Fishes." Dick Myers recalls YMCA scavenger hunts.

Sometimes Jean Snowberger Hartle's father would let them borrow a car from his dealership, but since none of the friends owned a car, they walked or used other forms of transportation. The trolley went to the river - the Potomac - at Williamsport, Dean McNamee says.

On one of the more memorable of those river visits, Betty Rinehart lost one of Moe's shoes. They never found it.

The gang liked going to the horse races in Hagerstown and Cumberland. They recall the time Russ Hartle had a tip on a "sure thing," a horse named Annie's Dream. The friends put all their money on that horse, but Lawless Miss won the race. They also remember the names of the jockeys.

Why do they think they've stayed friends for such a long time?

"Personalities," said Dick Myers. "Common interests," said Betty Myers.

"The girls were so compatible," said Dean McNamee.

"We've all stayed married and all stayed in Hagerstown," Betty Rinehart said.

As the friends prepared to leave the room where they had come to be interviewed Monday, they planned to go to lunch. "We should do this more often," said Betty Myers.

They spent the whole afternoon together, Dean McNamee said Thursday.

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