They had a slim chance of even meeting.  They lived in different countries, never shared the same religious beliefs.  They pursued entirely contrasting occupations.  To one, came fame and notoriety, as he interacted with the masses throughout the world.  To the other, life was lived in the quiet humble setting of farming communities, where his dealings focused on individuals instead of large groups of people.  And yet, in their happenstance meeting, something clicked and they became lifelong friends.  I have long been intrigued by this peculiar friendship that my Great Grandpa, Charles had with Robert Prometheus. 


1890 was a time of change for both of them.  Traveling with his family, 20 year old Charles had left his home in Australia to immigrate to the United States.  The ship stopped in New Zealand to take on more passengers before beginning the long voyage across the Pacific Ocean.  This is where the two young men with dissimilar backgrounds met.  Robert was originally from England.  But he was raised in New Zealand where he began his professional boxing career.  His dream was taking him to San Francisco, where new opportunities beckoned. 


The two were instant friends and spent the many hours and days of the long voyage together learning about each others world.  Charles acquired a new hobby as Robert taught him boxing techniques.  As the hours and days on board the ship stretched into weeks and months, Robert and Charles did other things besides sparing in a makeshift boxing ring.  One thing they learn was that they were both handy with the scissors.  Not only did they cut each others hair (even back then a young man had to look just right for the young ladies), but soon the two unlikely friends were busy with many other “customers” from the rest of the passengers who liked the job they did.  


Their direct contact with each other ending in San Francisco a little over 3 months after it began.  Robert pursued his boxing career.  Now know as Bob Fitzsimmons, he won three world titles: middleweight (1891-97), heavyweight (1897-99), and light heavyweight (1903-05).  Charles continued on with his family to Utah.  Within 9 years, he had started his own family and had now made the Northwest Territories of Canada his home.  But in spite the distance and differences, these two remained lifelong friends.


I live in the communication age.  With cell phones, computers, and jet planes (none of which they had access to), I have never maintained a friendship like that.  Charles had a large family (just like I do), and his career as a farmer and merchant took its bumps and “forced unwanted family moves” (just like mine has), but my Great Grandpa, Charles, knew something about developing and maintaining long term friendships that I haven’t yet learned.  


As I see the new “Friends” module in spaces, and as I watch the spaces that I occasionally visit displaying their friends, I wonder about the friendships I have had in my life.  Like all introverts, it’s the fear of rejection that stops me from “clicking” an invite on to my “friends list” (both in person as well as online).  If I were to talk to my Great Grandpa, Charles, about this subject, I think he would probably open his Bible and have me read Proverbs 18:24  “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  I don’t think wise King Solomon realized how hard it is for an introvert to “shew himself friendly”.



8 thoughts on “Friends”

  1. Ron,  I found this blog to be especially interesting…it has caused so many new thots…Friendhsip seems to come in all types…the idea that you have friends is to some an ego thing…to others it is a place of repose for the souls…someone to talk to…vent with…laugh with…there are some friends who look out for us…worry with us…become our sounding boards..advocates of our views and thots…some friends are not even known to us… we have friends in the commuity…friends in our churches…friends in social circles…friends online and BEST friends which we have maybe two or three in our lifetimes…(my blog 54) I think the thing that makes people friends is often a certain ability to detach from the situations prevalent in the others life…that is why I always chuckle at those who say their spouse is their best friend….I have a scale on which all my acquaintences have an importance factor… there is nothing wrong with being a casual friend…or a friend at work…or a friend  that just likes to chat across the fence…I think we used to call those neighbors… I am shocked that many people in the world never become friends with their neighbors… and others are freinds to nearly everyone…they just LIKE PEOPLE rather than books or history or ideas….what were the reasons that bob and your great grandfather became friends? Stayed friends?…I have a friend that used to work with me…lived in our city…who now lives in las vegas…he is an ultra liberal…hates bush….despises republicans…phones me to preach michael  moore…..we talk movies…religion..politics…I always call him or visit him when I go thru vegas…he comes to visit us when he comes to utah… we have next to nothing in common..but I like him.  Consider him a friend..  I would much rather blog something to you than to him much of the time…but there are those times when I just love to phone him and shoot the breeze… I think tho that half of liking anyone is that they like us……I guess that should get you half way there with me…it has been nice meeting you here online…who knows maybe if you get the hankerin, we may end up going skiing together…I see you have never done that…I am someone who would just love to make that possible…you know some nice winter evening after christmas, just go up to snowbird and discover what people see in  going down the mountain on footsleds…oh yeah..I have taught all my kids…to show you the fundamentals and provide you with some good boots and skis to learn on would be no problem…let me know if you are interested….I dont think Ill have you cut my hair tho…

  2. I always remembered that "shew himself friendly"… I think it is very true… you have to put forth the effort first.  Not always really easy… but so worth it…. even for the simple friendships… or even the hello’s on the street.  It always feels good to have someone be friendly to you… so why not do the same.   Good story with these two.  I’m working on being more friendly.. just takes some envestment of time.  Vallerie

  3. What a wonderful story and thanks for sharing.  My Dad used to say that a stranger was just a friend one hadn’t met yet.  To me, I have a few very close friends whom I could hold in the palm of my hand, several acquaintances who think of me as  a very good friend because I empathize with them, and a lot of people I know.  As a child I was very shy, then learned when walking into a room that there was always someone more quiet and shy as I was and I learned to seek that person out.  Blogging is a wonderful way of a different type of friendship.  May your friendships be cherished as mine are to me.  lottiemae

  4. Not sure how I got here,"idle hands"……and an hour to spare! But that is how you usually stumble across the better blogs will return and read more !

  5. Thanks for your comments on my space.  to hear the music for the hymn Children of the Heavenly Father, click HERE … It is an old Scandinavian tune. 
    Per the classes–haha… your wife says the only one you will need is the one on directions.  What a pair you two are.. later, lottiemae

  6. Dad,
              You write very well! I wish I had your talent to express myself. I liked reading your thoughts. This is my first time responding to stuff and Charlie is very fussy and making me type with one hand. Keep writing! Love you.

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