Two New Westminster couples recently discovered that it's indeed a small world after all.
New Westminster natives Ralph and Loree Baker recently enjoyed a month-long vacation in Europe with their oldest and dearest friends, Ron and Maureen Darnbrough and Byron and Vivienne Welters, who grew up in New Westminster, but now call North Delta home. The Bakers took along a copy of The Record and the six friends posed with their hometown newspaper in front of the Eiffel Tower, which was erected for the 1889 Paris Exposition.
"These old friends go back a ways - not as far as the tower, but quite a ways," quipped the Bakers in a letter to The Record.
"Maureen, Ralph, Loree and Byron graduated from Lester Pearson High School in 1966. Vivienne graduated from New Westminster Secondary School in 1967. Ron is an import from Burnaby South."
The group's friendships go back even earlier than high school, as Loree and Maureen were in Grade 1 together at Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary School, and Byron and Ralph met in Grade 3 at Herbert Spencer. Ralph and Maureen
also attended Lord Kelvin Elementary School.
"It was fabulous," Loree told The Record about the vacation that started in Paris.
Although the six friends range from 64 to 66 years of age, Loree said they still encountered a few problems with directions during their trip.
"You cannot believe how many times we got lost," she laughed. It was while traveling by rail in the Cinque Terre region along the coastline of Northern Italy that the travelers discovered just how small the world can be.
Having taken a wrong train, the vacationers got off one train and boarded another - as did another couple. After getting onto a different train, the Bakers stood near the other couple, who also spoke English.
"First question, so where are you from?" wrote the Bakers. "We were shocked to discover that the four of us were from New Westminster."
Not only did the two couples learn they were from New Westminster, but they were stunned to discover they both lived on London Street in the West End.
"It was absolutely unbelievable," Loree later told The Record. "We are actually one block and five houses apart."
It turns out that Richard and Debbie Lemire were quite familiar with the Baker's home, as they walk their dog past the residence and its well-manicured lawn.
"He is meticulous about our lawn," Loree said about her husband. "Right away, Richard said, 'we know that house, that is the one with the nicest lawn.'"
After marveling at the fact the neighbours had crossed paths thousands of miles from their home in the Royal City, the Bakers took out their copy of The Record and posed for a photograph. When the two New Westminster couples parted ways, they exchanged names and phone numbers and pledged to get together and enjoy some Italian wine.
"We are definitely going to have the wine," Loree said. "We are going to do it - we just haven't done it yet."
It's not the first time the Bakers have met fellow Royal City residents when travelling.
While playing golf at a nine-hole golf course that included holes in North Portal, Saskatchewan and others in Portal, North Dakota, they met someone who lived in New Westminster and worked at Royal Columbian Hospital. While shopping in a gift shop on the other side of the country in Cape Breton Island they met someone from Sapperton.
Several of Loree and Ralph Baker's vacation photos have been featured in Paper Postcards, which see residents posing in front of a famous landmark with The Record during their travels.
They note that the feature is a conversation starter, as they have to chat with people and ask them to take their photo.