The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

February 24, 2011

Renewing friendships

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — They now live halfway around the world from each other, but a friendship that began when they were Greenville High School students has continued to grow.

Lisa Cranko was an exchange student from Christchurch, New Zealand, when she came to spend a year with the family of Sam and Mary Lauderdale and their teenage daughter, Pud.

The arrangement was made through American Field Service, and it was an excellent match. Lisa entered into school activities — she was a member of the Flaming Flashes and graduated in the GHS Class of 1971.

Since she was a student here for only a year, Lisa couldn’t be considered for valedictorian status. “But we all knew she was the smartest person in class,” Pud said, laughing.

The two, now Lisa Cranko Coe and Pud Lauderdale Kearns, have continued their friendship through letters and more recently through e-mails , texting and Facebook. Both are the mothers of boys — Lisa and her husband have three grown sons, and Pud has two (her son Richard visited Lisa’s family in 2000.)

Although Lisa, now an engineering designer in Melbourne, Australia, has traveled to the U.S. a number of times, this current trip is the first time she has come specifically to see Pud and her mother.

Asked what she likes most about this country she said, “First, Americans are always very welcoming and hospitable. This belies the impression we get from the movie industry.” She explained that Hollywood makes several versions of its movies, and in the films sent abroad “every second word is an expletive.”

Secondly, Lisa is very fond of Tex-Mex food. Pud explained that once when a package of chili mix was sent home to Lisa’s parents, her father wrote back, “We enjoyed the chili and served it over mashed potatoes.” He seemed rather puzzled about this odd dish. Then, Pud said, it dawned on her that most chili-mix packages did not give any serving instructions —i.e. “Serve in a bowl with crackers” — so instead it was poured over the mashed potatoes.

Now, Lisa said, Tex-Mex is not such an oddity down under. “There is a restaurant called Taco Bill’s in Australia,” she said. The owner is an American who married an Australian girl.

Lisa has been impressed with the positive changes she’s seen in Greenville, especially on Lee Street and the downtown area. And since she designs hospitals in Australia, Pud took her to visit Hunt Regional Medical Center. A difference which immediately became apparent to her was the big lobby in Greenville’s facility.

“It’s a much more constrained design in Australia, probably because of our budget cuts,” she observed.

“Tell about your hobby,” Pud urged her friend.

“I do competitive roller-skating,” Lisa answered with a grin. Although she does not in any way fit the stereotypical image of a competitive skater, she admitted, “Our team is called Pacemakers, and I’ve been on it about 12 years. It’s fun!”

Lisa will leave Texas on Sunday, for a short flight to Los Angeles and then an 18-hour trip back to Australia. Until then, however, the two friends will be taking in all the north Texas sights.

After that, texts and e-mails will keep the two connected.

As philosopher Ralph Barton Perry wrote, “Wherever you are, it is your own friends who make your world.”