Longtime friends living together again after 74 years
GREENFIELD — Marguerite “Maggie” Allen and Margaret “Peg” Folgmann met in 1939, when they were both assigned to the same dorm room while attending nursing school at a New Hampshire community hospital in Keene.
They’ve enjoyed a 74-year friendship.
Their contact has been mostly through letters, cards and an occasional visit, like the one they had about 10 years after they met.
That visit was a little more ambitious than some of their more recent ones. It was in, they believe, 1949 when the two stood atop the former Chickley Alps Ski Area in Hawley, where Allen was a member of the ski patrol.
A black and white photograph on that day of the two, who were in their 20s and dressed in ski gear at the top of Chickley, sits on a round table in Folgmann’s living room at The Arbors in Greenfield.
“I love this picture,” said Folgmann, 96. “I take it out every winter and leave it out until spring. It was a time when I just so enjoyed winter, and skiing was so much a part of our friendship. I still love winter because the snow reminds me of that time.”
Now, the two nonagenarians find themselves, after all this time, living one floor apart in the same assisted-living facility.
“I decided to move into the Arbors last February,” said Folgmann. “I was so surprised and so happy to learn that Maggie had moved in just a month before me. I didn’t realize that was happening.”
Folgmann said she didn’t run into Allen on her first day there, but a day or two later, met her in the dining room.
“I was sitting waiting for lunch and she walked in,” said Folgmann. “I recognized her right away.”
Folgmann, who was born and raised in Conway, graduated from Sanderson Academy in Ashfield and went on to teach nursing at different colleges, while Allen decided to take a completely different path from her nursing training and work in libraries throughout her career.
Allen was born and raised in Shattuckville, a village in Colrain, and graduated from the former Arms Academy in Shelburne Falls, and though they spent the first 18 or more years of their lives living just a few miles from each other, they never met until that day in 1939 in Keene.
After college, they both married and raised families. Folgmann moved around a little, living in New Jersey and then from about 1960 until 15 years ago, living in Connecticut.
Folgmann said the two see each other often, but don’t talk a lot about the past and their time on the slopes — Allen’s memory isn’t quite what it used to be.
“We talk about what’s happening here and now,” said Folgmann. “There’s a lot to do here at The Arbors, so we meet up at functions sometimes.”
Folgmann has taken up knitting, while Allen still loves to read.
“We do our own things, just like we always did, but we know that the other is never far away,” said Folgmann. “That just gives each of us a warm, safe feeling. We get to hold on to the past, but live with each other in the present.”