What do you say to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in almost 70 years? If you’re Betty Taylor and Freddy Simon, you don’t say anything. A simple hug will do.
On Tuesday the two were reunited at Simon’s namesake restaurant, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. It was a reunion of former classmates 68 years in the making.
“A good-looking young man said, ‘I got a really big surprise for you,’ and I said, ‘now what’s going to happen?’” Simon said. “He walked me over and there was Betty.”
It took the 85-year-old a few moments to recognize her, but Betty knew exactly who Freddy was.
“I knew you were the Freddy because your picture is on the sack,” she said.
The pair hadn’t seen each other since 1942. They met during their sophomore year at Maize High School northwest of Wichita, but parted ways when Freddy moved to a different school. After graduation he was drafted into the military and served in the Pacific during World War II.
“He was just as patriotic as the rest of the guys,” Betty said.
Freddy was in Lawrence for a ribbon cutting at his restaurant at 23rd and Iowa streets. He and Betty spent some time reminiscing over old photos and remembering friends who have passed away.
It was obvious that their time apart did not affect their friendship.
“We just picked up where we left off, didn’t we?” Betty asked. “Just a few years in between.”
After 68 years, Freddy had a few things to tell Betty. He jokingly complained that Betty wouldn’t help him with homework.
“I’d be in trouble. You’d have the wrong answers,” she said.
Freddy also let Betty know that he had a slight crush on her in high school.
“She was one of the best-looking gals in school,” he said. “I was always flirting, but she wouldn’t pay any attention to me.”
“I was listening to my dad,” Betty answered with a smile.
Both admit that the world has changed a lot since they were in high school, but Freddy said their rare friendship has and will always remain strong.
“There are not too many stories like that around. I’ll guarantee you,” he said.