Do you, like me, have “Forever Friends” that through circumstances things change and your lives have gone in separate direction but you keep in touch with Christmas and birthday cards or a rare phone call?  I had such a friend, Betty Corbin.  I had sent her a Christmas card with the usual newsy note and knew I had not received a 2015 Christmas card from her.  I did not think about it much because of the economy many are not sending Christmas cards anymore.  Her birthday was January 12 and as usual I sent her a birthday card with the usual short note.  In February, I received a phone call from Austin, Texas.  It was Betty’s daughter, Terry, calling to tell me that Betty had passed away last April following an eleven bypass heart surgery (I had never heard of that extensive number of bypasses).  Terry had not notified me because she did not have my address until the birthday card was forwarded to her. Then she was able to look up my phone number on the internet.   Needless to say I was heartbroken…many memories flooded my mind.

Betty and I became acquainted during the time we both worked at what was known in those days as “Texaco Island.” It was the place where they filled cans with oil.  It no longer exists and the buildings were demolished several years ago.

Betty was single and a very independent person.  She enjoyed working in her yard and had a beautiful rose garden.  We both liked sun bathing and attending auctions which I guess is what brought us together; we soon bonded and became close friends.  We lived about 30 miles from Sea Rim State Park just past the small town of Sabine Pass, Texas.  In the summer we made many trips to Sea Rim and before returning home we would stop and eat seafood at a favorite restaurant in Sabine Pass.  She enjoyed collecting sea shells and crafted many lovely things from her collection.  It was during our close friendship that embroidering became popular and we both took pleasure in taking on some lovely projects. Together we became caught up in attending a small nondenominational church.  That was a mistake and did not last long.  Betty and I supported each other through some difficult times.  We became very close and she was my maid of honor when I married Mac.

There were many fun times Betty and I had shared..  Although in those days we neither needed it, I recall the time we decided to go on a diet.  We were eating lots of salads.  This particular time we decided to go out to eat at this Italian restaurant. Now first I must tell you, Betty was half Italian and half Cajun.  We looked at the menu and we each decided to order their “Wop” salad.  The waitress was taking our orders and when I gave my order I told her, “Please cut the Wops from my salad.”  She and Betty gave me the strangest look to see if I was really serious; and I was. I asked them what was wrong and that was when I learned that “WOP” was not the little ugly, hairy fish that they sometimes put on top of Italian salads.  Now understand although I had grown up in an Italian community, I had never heard that word used which I found out was a derogatory name to call an Italian.  Then they both broke up laughing and Betty could not quit laughing through the whole meal.  She never let me live that down.

Betty enjoyed country dancing and at one time she and another lady decided to go into the teaching country dancing business.  Mac and I took a few lessons but it was where Betty and our interests parted and we did not stay with it for very long. After I married, Betty and my time together lessened and although always friends we drifted apart.

I will ever remember and cherish the memories of my dear friend, Betty Corbin.  I give you this KEEPER recipe in her memory.

CHICKEN PARMIGIANA

2 to 4 skinless chicken breasts

1 (10 ¾ oz.) can tomato soup

1 (5.5 fl. oz.) V-8 juice

2 garlic cloves minced  or 1 tsp. minced garlic in oil

1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes

½ tsp./salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp. dried oregano

Water

Shredded Kraft Italian Cheese

Cooked spaghetti or rice

Preheat oven to 400○.  Place the chicken breast into a greased 8 inch square baking dish.  In a small saucepan, combine the soup, V-8 juice, garlic, parsley flakes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and oregano; add water to desired consistency and bring to a boil.  Pour over the chicken.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the cheese and bake an additional 10 to 15 more minutes.  Serve over the spaghetti or rice.