Thursday, December 19, 2013

Learning the meaning of friendship…in Chadron

Friendship comes in many forms, and it’s been a topic of philosophers and poets for centuries.

Two rather modern quotes are among our favorites.

Mark Twain once opined that "Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience:  this is the ideal life."

But we particularly like the pronouncement made by that sage of the ring, Muhammed Ali, who said, Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.”
Good buddies Lynn Bilyeu and Bob Zeman
In these modern migratory times, travel has become so much easier, and having life-long friends seems to have become increasingly rare.  But one friendship jumped out and caught our attention recently, when Con Marshall told us a story about two long-time Chadron residents who grew up in the 1930's, became school chums, and enjoyed a friendship that transcended several decades, doggedly surviving the unrelenting passage of time.
This is the rather remarkable story about Bob Zeman and Lynn Bilyeu, who became friends while attending East Ward Elementary School during the Great Depression.
Our first memories of Bob Zeman reach back to the late 1940’s, a few years after the Zeman family moved in to the house at 223 Ann Street.  We neighborhood kids would often see Bob visiting his parents, Joe and Ella.
Lynn Bilyeu first came onto our radar screen a few years later while attending a meeting of the "Pine Ridge Amateur Radio Club" at Lynn's home in the Henkens Heights neighborhood in about 1959 or 1960. A retired telegrapher and dispatcher with the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, Lynn was -- and continues to be -- an avid “ham” operator.  
The life-long friendship between Lynn Bilyeu and Bob Zeman is a fascinating story – and is told no better than in this article crafted by Con Marshall for the Chadron Record on March 28, 2012.  Our thanks to Con for allowing us to reprint it here.  We've also posted some additional photos in our Dawes County Journal Gallery.
Read Con Marshall's story:   An 80-year friendship