July 3, 2012
I have always been very fortunate to have some amazing friends, during my twenty plus years living in Key West, I have met literally hundreds of wonderful interesting people who I have called my friends. Some have just passed through and moved on and others I have known since the day I arrived here back in 1991. Key West is so transient by nature that almost every week, I meet new people and others move on. You might think that having been away from my hometown of Indianapolis for over twenty years that I might have lost touch with friends from my time there, but in fact, I think my bond with the friends of my youth is actually as strong now in spite of time and distance away from many of them.
Kathy & Tracy
Of all the many people who have positively influenced my life as friends, there are few who can match the group of almost lifelong friends that are known collectively as “The Old Dog Crew” or ODC. For going on thirty years, a group of friends who grew up in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis have maintained a tight bond as friends through thick and thin and over time and distance.
The name ODC comes from the favored beverage of choice back in the day, “Old Milwaukee” beer also known as Old Dog beer. At the time, before we could actually afford decent beer, it was what we mostly drank and somehow the association stuck. Through the years, many of us have scattered across the country, while others have remained in Indianapolis, raising families, running businesses and living lives.
Tracy & Kevin
Unlike many groups of teenage friends, we have maintained a strong friendship as well as a strong association as a group, getting together whenever possible for all manner of special occasions; whether camping in Michigan, attending annual holiday parties or special events, and gathering each year at the Indianapolis 500 or at the weddings of various members. As time passed, the get-togethers would be less well attended at least by a large contingent of members all at the same time.
It is inevitable I am sure as each of us has our own lives to lead and it is less and less easy to coordinate schedules and find the time for an organized reunion. When we were mostly single, or at least unencumbered with the commitments of family and work, we were able to gather more easily, as we did in the memorable gathering held in 1997 in the Turks & Caicos, but of late it has gotten more and more difficult.
Eli & Kathy
That changed last October when unexpected tragedy struck and we were faced with the first real loss of one of our own, when our good friend and fellow ODC member Matt Elliott suddenly passed away. Matt’s funeral brought many of us together in a large gathering for the first time in a long time and we were able to provide each other with support and love that helped us begin to deal with our collective loss. One thing we all I think quickly realized is that we needed to make an effort to get together more often, in spite of the difficulties.
In was in the shadow of our loss, that the seeds of this week’s gathering were planted as many of us present at Matt’s memorial really wanted to spend some time with our friends outside of the immediate grief of the moment in a way that would both honor Matt’s memory and reaffirm the incredible friendship that we all feel for each other.
Carol & Tim
Our friends Eli & Mary Schloss offered us all a wonderful gift (with thanks to the entire Schloss family) by offering the use of their families beautiful home in Golden Beach, Florida for us all to use as a gathering spot. Their incredible, recently renovated and rebuilt home had enough space to host our group including an astounding 28 people who actually stayed on site. Only the few childless among us, myself & Kathy and our friends Abe and Tim opted to stay off-property, otherwise it was a huge party as many of the ODC and their families convened in South Florida for a week of fun.