I can’t remember a time I didn’t know Carol Cordell McCoy. We were always best friends. We were both raised on North Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana. We both went to Public School #38 from kindergarten through eighth grade. We attended Tech High School together. Even after we married, we lived in the two halves of a duplex, she and Bill on one side, my husband and me on the other. She was a year older than me, so the only time we were really apart when we were growing up was when she started high school and I was still in Public School #38 for eighth grade. That broke my heart.
I didn’t have any sisters close to my age, and she had no sisters at all, so we told everyone we were sisters.
My first memories of us as children were of playing in the basement of her house. There was a corner down there that was just hers, with lots of toys and even a little kitchen. We would play house for hours at a time down there.
Every morning, I would go over to her house to pick her up on the way to school, which was in the next block. She always ate the same breakfast: toast and hot chocolate.
We spent the night with each other a lot. She believed in ghosts and thought her grandmother was still in the house, because the lights went off and on. We laughed later when we were old enough to realize just how ancient the house – and the wiring – was.
Carol’s brother Eugene left some old photography stuff in the basement, and we found it. We got pretty good at making pictures from old negatives. Our careers as photographers ended, though, when we got caught.
When we were old enough, we would ride the city bus to downtown and go to the movies, or eat at Hook’s Drug Store. Oh, yeah, and flirt with the boys.
I had a daughter in 1963, and Carol watched her a lot. She’d been told she couldn’t have children, so in lots of ways, we shared mine.
We lost touch for a while after I moved to Texas, and Bill and Carol moved to California with Peoples Temple. Then I heard that they had adopted a little girl, and the next I knew, she had had three children of her own after all. She sent me a picture of all four children in 1973, but I never got to meet any of them.
We kept in contact through letters. The last one I got from her was when she told me she was going to Jonestown. I had been to Peoples Temple with Carol a few times when we were children, but I was afraid of Jim Jones and stopped going. It was the one part of her life that I didn’t share.
I think about my friend Carol a lot, and still miss her.