GREENVILLE — Two Greenville women have remained friends since they were in first grade; thus have been in each other’s lives for 70 years.
“Both of us are 76,” said Linda Mikesell-Schatz. “Jeanne [Cassel] is older. She was born March 23, 1939, and I was born Sept. 7.”
Throughout the years, they have been in touch with the exception of a short time that Cassel moved away after she got married.
“We moved away in 1958 to Xenia,” Cassel said.
“One day, I went to Hughes Grocery on Martin Street where McMiller’s is today with my daughter Jana, and there she was,” said Schatz. “Here, she [Cassel] had lived around the corner from me when they moved back to town and I didn’t even know it.”
Later on, Cassel and her husband, Floyd William Cassel Jr., known as “Bill” by people, bought a home on State Route 49-North, and Schatz and her first husband, Ralph Mikesell, decided to buy a house a mile down the road from them.
“I got a job at Fram in 1971 and her husband lost his job so Jeanne got a job there a couple of years later,” said Schatz, whose first husband died in 1984. “They put Jeanne and me in the same department on second shift. We had a lot of fun. We rode to work together, and were always together.”
Even when Castle went to first shift five years before she quit working at the factory, Schatz remained on second shift.
“Every night, she waited on me,” Schatz said of Cassel. “Before she left, people thought we were sisters. We liked the same kind of music, the old country, and we liked Conway Twitty, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn and Mickey Gilley. We went to see some of them.”
It was nothing for Cassel to bring her RV to work and afterwards, with a bunch of other girls from Fram, head for Stop 127, singing and laughing all the way. Then they would return home about 3 or 4 a.m. Or, they would go to the old bowling alley on Sater’s after work.
In 1986, Schatz moved back into town and she married William Schatz in 1989. He died in 2012.
Schatz, the former Linda Roth, said Cassel was her matron of honor when she married the second time to a man, who was also called Bill. Both Bills, it was noted, were the same age.
The two girls walked to school together when younger.
“I lived on Tecumseh and Bellevernon and she lived on Warren, then Tiffin,” Schatz said.
Even though they were close friends, the two women never double-dated.
They would go to country music shows at Memorial Hall together.
“I’m the mouthy one and she was the quiet one,” said Schatz.
Schatz still visits the Cassels, who are now residents of the assisted living section at Village Green.
Schatz, who was married 26 years the first time and 22 years the last time, has five children, and Cassel, who has been married 55-plus years, has four.
Schatz’s children are Kathy Fantasia, Gene Mikesell, Jane Dowler, Todd Mikesell and Susan Jones, as well as 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, while Cassel’s children are Chris, Roger, Doug and Sherry Chester, with eight grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild and another on the way.
“Chris and my daughter, Kathy, graduated together,” Schatz said. “They knew each other other well but didn’t hang around with each other. But, we have always had get-togethers, even now. “
Cassel said she met her husband on a blind date.
“I don’t like blind dates, but a girl in church kept asking me if I would and I finally said okay. She gave me a picture of him and my heart struck a beat,” Cassel said. “The following Monday he told his mom I was the one he was going to marry and three weeks later, we got married.”
The Cassels,who have been at Village Green since March 7 this year, hung around with Schatz and her second husband more so than they did when she was married the first time.
“My first husband was too quiet,” Schatz said.
Even now, Schatz visits her good friend a lot and even takes her to the store.
“She drives me around,” said Cassel, who quit driving in March before she and her husband moved to Village Green.
Both women joined the Red Hats Society about eight years ago.
“Our group is the Jolly Dollys,” said Schatz. “I named us because we’re always happy. It’s fading out. There are only 13 of us. Jeanne hasn’t gone since Bill’s been ill. We have secret sisters and my sister, Jody Smith, is the queen mother [president].”
They used to eat breakfast out all of the time, would go shopping and to LaComedia together. And, the women and their husbands would drive to the casino.
“We liked to go out for pizza, but Jeanne was addicted to ice cream, so I now take her to the Dairy Barn when it’s open,” Schatz said. “We always went to the fair together every year…just us two. We would go to the gazebo, get a funnel cake with strawberry on it and split it.”
One time after Schatz’s first husband died, the two longtime friends went to New Orleans with Schatz’s mother and youngest daughter.
“A guy went around us at a curve, flipped and turned, ending up with the bumper against a mountain,” Schatz recalled. “Come to find out he told he was a race car driver.”
The only thing they didn’t do together was play cards, because Cassel didn’t like cards.
“I have been in a card club for 40 years,” said Schatz, who had both knees operated on a year and a half ago. “I still have card parties. I have a lot of friends. Some of the Fram girls and guys meet at Kathy’s [her daughter’s restaurant on Martin Street[ for breakfast. Jeanne goes when she can.”
Both women retired the same year from Fram, 2001; Cassel on in January with 29 years experience; and Schatz on Nov. 2 with 37 years seniority.
Schatz worked at her daughter’s restaurant for 10 years after she retired and has sold Avon for 43 years. Cassel worked at Eikenberry’s before she got married and began working at Fram after her husband lost his job at NCR.
Cassell said she likes living at Village Green.
“I can’t go out whenever I want to, but I don’t have to cook,” she said.
“We’re always there for each other,” Schatz said. “We know each other’s secrets and they’ll go to our graves. We had a lot of fun. We never did anything bad.”
Even when Schatz visits her dear friend, they sit and talk and cry together.
“We listen to each other’s problems, and sometimes, we pray together,” Schatz said.
Linda Moody may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.