Still Waters Run Deep

This is a story I wrote for my class at Furman U for experienced writers. I don’t know if I qualify but I am giving it my best shot.


Still Rivers Run Deep


When I was growing up, I lived in Parma, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. The area was growing quickly. It was the post-WWII boom of prosperity in cities all over the country. Cleveland was no exception. Both the Chevrolet and Ford Plants operated on the south side of Brookpark Road. Cleveland Hopkins Airport and the railroad lines heading east, west and to the south of the city were close and Brookpark Road was filled with potholes from the semi-tractor trailers coming and going to pick up and drop off deliveries. The air was pungent with exhaust fumes and foundry fumes along with the wheezing and bellowing sounds of two engine stamping plants, it was 1951.


We moved from our grandparent’s house to the house my father purchased on the GI bill. I was so happy. We lived on a dirt road which was tarred in the summer. The vacant lots on our street were filled with red and black raspberry bushes, and between scrubbing our feet with gasoline to get the tar off before bed and being able to eat berries at the same time, this was perfect.

Other families began to move in and soon I became best friends with Marsha Joan Roland, the oldest of 6 children and as my mother often said, “They had six children because they were Catholic.” I did not know until we studied biology and reproduction in the 8th grade what being Catholic and having six children actually meant. To me they were just a large noisy family of three boys and three girls.


We spent hours climbing up the big maple tree in her front yard whispering secrets, reading books, hanging upside down from branches until our faces turned beet red and teasing my brother and her five younger siblings about how they couldn’t climb our tree because it was our castle.


Marsha Joan was a quiet girl and when I would ask Mrs. Roland why she was so quiet she would reply, “Still waters run deep.’


The years passed quickly, too quickly. I went to the public high school, Marsha Joan attended Nazareth School for Catholic Girls. She wore a uniform; I wore pleated skirts and sweaters. Late Friday afternoons until early Sunday evening belonged to us. There were movies, dances, swapping clothes, and in nice weather we still played street sports with the boys.


If we had only had a glimpse of the future at that time.


We went off to college. Marsha Joan got pregnant by her boyfriend; I was in her quick wedding. Her husband, Pete couldn’t avoid the draft, and he left for VietNam. I was setting the table for dinner one evening and saw the black car pull into the Roland’s driveway, and when I saw the uniformed officers get out of the car, I dropped everything I was doing knowing full well they were there with bad news.


Pete’s helicopter had been shot down. He was being airlifted to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, and they could only tell us he was alive last they heard. I flew to Texas with Marsha Joan after explaining to the officers she was pregnant and could not go alone. By then her father had passed away and there were still 5 younger children at home.


Marsha Joan lost the child she was carrying while we were in Texas and I could only hold her as she wept. Pete was wrapped up as if he were a mummy and had been burned over 50% of his body. It was devastating.



Years went by, Pete survived but was left maimed and with a badly scarred face and upper torso. Marsha Joan and Pete had two children, I married and two of my own. As two families, we were connected by a long-term friendship, and a war. Pete truly could be himself with us.


Then in 1971 my heart and world were turned upside down as Pete accepted a position with William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. I would be losing close contact with people I loved. On top of all this, I had just found out I was pregnant with my third child and they wouldn’t be here to share the joy.


I delivered our child in December, 1972 our first daughter and we made plans for a friendship reunion in August.


When I look back at that summer, I often think of what Robert Burns

wrote – ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’ Our trip

with three young children went just fine until we left Washington DC.

We were involved in a terrible car accident on I-95. We were side-swiped by a dump truck hauling gravel and our car went careening down the berm. It flipped over still sliding through dirt and gravel until we rolled down a hill. Miraculously we were not seriously injured. I had a fractured skull and a huge gash in the top of my head as the roof of the car collapsed onto me. Our infant daughter had a bad cut on her tiny foot, one of our sons’ needed sutures in his forehead. My baby and I were held overnight for observation.


We made it to Williamsburg and we had a lovely visit. Our car was totaled. We flew home, and the years passed again.



This time twenty years went past. We had gone our separate ways for whatever reason.  I was divorced. My three children were grown and in colleges. I was living in Richmond, Virginia.

I made the decision to reach out to Marsha Joan and she invited me to come and visit.


There were two more children in their family now, a little boy with Down’s Syndrome and a brand-new baby girl asleep in a crib.


Pete was thrilled to see me. He gave me a big hearty bear hug. Marsha Joan was very reserved, more reserved than years before and as I looked around, I realized she was disappointed she had not finished college. Knowing her as well as I did, I knew she was also disappointed she had birthed a child with Down’s Syndrome.


We had a simple lunch and as I drove away, I could hear her mother say, “Still waters run deep.” I now understood and I knew Marsha Joan had lost her passion.





It was within the past year when I was about to write a story about our friendship back when we were young and dumb and 16 years old. There was another friend in the mix, there were actually three of us.


I am the only one left. The friend I left out of this story died from breast cancer several years ago. When I used Google to see what Marsha Joan was doing now, I received one of the biggest shocks of my life.


That last baby, that precious little girl had gotten into a disagreement with Marsha Joan and had murdered her with a kitchen knife repeatedly stabbing her mother. She was found not guilty by reasons of insanity.


Our best years were before we all married and had children, back in the days when still waters run deep meant so much more than any of us were able to understand or pursue.