A Lifetime of Laughter


Suzy Seldin and Sally Rosenthal chat in Seldin’s Clayton home.

Marina Henke, News Section Editor

Squeals rang out across a crowded Famous Barr. Amidst starched dress shirts and pleated pants, Suzy Seldin and Sally Rosenthal laughed uncontrollably as Seldin’s mother stood by.

“Won’t you two ever grow up?” Seldin’s mother asked.

Between boisterous giggles the two young women answered in unison: “No!”

Forty years later, Seldin and Rosenthal are just as happy to be around one another.

“We have been laughing for about 67 years,” Sally Rosenthal said, sitting on her best friend’s couch in Old Clayton.

When Seldin and Rosenthal met at a camp in Bridgeton, Maine during the summer of 1947, they would never have dreamed of bantering in a living room nearly seven decades later.

In fact, as children they may have been too busy to even consider the future.

During their first summer at camp both girls were 9-years-old. Seldin was fresh off of a two-day train ride from St. Louis and Rosenthal had come from Philadelphia.

“It was an all girls eight week camp, all sports,” Rosenthal said. “We did everything. We played field hockey, tennis, baseball and we canoed.”

The two girls were bunkmates for eight years. Each summer they would return to camp and start their friendship off right where they had left it. Despite changes during the school year, both agree that the adjustment was an easy one.

“We loved camp. This was our life. We settled right in to camp life and most of the time we had the same bunkmates. You got used to the appearance change in five minutes,” Seldin said.

The two friends had a sharp sense of humor and loved to tease one another.

“Suzy chased me all over camp with caterpillars. It was really fun. These have been our happiest times,” Rosenthal said.

Seldin and Rosenthal spent one year together as junior counselors. After that their camp years were over. At a time when many friends would part their ways, they worked hard to maintain their friendship.

“We always wrote letters,” Rosenthal said.

After years of a long-distance friendship, the two finally lived in the same city. And of course, their friendship was what brought them together.

“I moved here 48 years ago thanks to Suzy,” Rosenthal said.

By the time they were in their twenties, Seldin still lived in Saint Louis and Sally lived in Philadelphia. Rosenthal had three children and was recently divorced, so Seldin and her husband set her up with a work friend.

“I think he was on the next plane to Philly. He proposed the second night. She ended up moving to Saint Louis and they were married less than a year later,” Seldin said.

However, the two were not next-door neighbors. Rosenthal moved to Frontenac and Seldin still lived in Clayton. This distance kept part of their lives separate.

“We did not really raise our kids together. It wasn’t that kind of friendship where it was built around our kids,” Suzy said.

Still, the two played significant roles in each other’s families.

“Of course, I know Sally’s kids well and I’m crazy about them. She feels the same way about my kids,” Seldin said. “My daughter is named after Sally.”

Now Seldin’s granddaughter, junior Grace Harrison, and Rosenthal’s grandson, sophomore Kevin Rosenthal, are both current CHS students.

Maintaining a lifetime friendship is not easy, but staying close came naturally for Rosenthal and Seldin.

“It’s a commitment. It takes a certain amount of effort to nurture those friendships,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal and Seldin take this commitment seriously. Throughout their different experiences, both women constantly keep one another up to date.

“Suzy has travelled around the world, and most of the time has called me from different ports all around the world,” Rosenthal said. “Rarely does a day go by where we don’t talk on the phone or text … we worry if we haven’t heard from each other.”

Communication has changed considerably over the course of their friendship. Although the two text almost daily, Seldin worries that new technologies can inhibit lasting friendships.

“With texting, email, and Facebook, it dilutes the word friendship. You don’t have one particular best friend.”

Because of this, the two friends still value more intimate forms of communication.

“We still write notes always. Personal notes by hand, not on the computer. It is important,” Seldin said. “Even thank you notes. Times are different, but we are still in our era, and we are lucky.”

Over the years their letters and phone calls have payed off. Seldin and Rosenthal have a friendship that many would envy.

“There aren’t too many secrets. There really aren’t. There aren’t too many people that you can really trust to be there for you no matter what,” Seldin said.

         Rosenthal and Seldin spend nearly thirty minutes looking over old photographs from their years at camp. They crowd over a box teeming with mementos, trying to recall names of old bunkmates and past counselors.

Images of the two young girls canoeing and playing sports fill the table. One picture in particular shows Seldin and Rosenthal in their official camp uniforms, beaming at the camera.

The smiles reflected in the old Polaroid look strikingly similar to the ones emerging on both women’s faces as they recall old stories; the love born more than six decades ago still persists today.