NEW BRITAIN – About a year ago two city natives ran into each other on their cycling routes and rekindled a friendship that goes back 50-some years.
Jim Mason and Eddy Giungi rode bikes around New Britain together when they were kids. Now in their mid-sixties, they reconnected through the hobby since catching each other in passing.
“Life takes a different course and we hadn’t seen each other in awhile,” said Giungi, who now has three adult children with his beloved wife, Elizabeth.
In fact, a lot has happened in the years since he and Mason first became friends.
“It was maybe seventh- or eighth-grade when we just hit it off,” Mason recalled.
Giungi got a job at the former Belvedere Pizza restaurant and they’d often meet up there.
While friends and classmates often got into trouble with the law or found themselves in tough times because of bad life choices, Giungi and Mason survived the struggle.
“Growing up in New Britain when we did was challenging,” Mason said. “It was a rough and tumble town with many bad influences, but we mustered up the tenacity to steer clear from the brunt of chaos all around us. I believe that our strong family ethics served as the foundation for positive choices we made along the way.”
They both graduated from the former Pulaski High School and went on to college.
The two friends traveled together into their twenties, taking trips out West through the 70s and 80s and having grand adventures. Then careers and family took precedence and they lost touch until the recent reunion.
“We came to the realization that a lot of people are gone now; we’ve lost so many friends and family members,” Mason said. “That’s what re-cemented our friendship.”
Giungi lives in West Hartford now, while Mason is still in New Britain. However, they often meet up in Batterson Park, which is on both their cycling routes. They’ll stand and chat for a few minutes, catch up and then continue on their separate ways.
“You and I once picked out bikes together at Newington Bicycle,” Giungi said to Mason during a recent visit, as they were recalling old memories.
For Mason, it’s like turning the clocks back.
“We get together and time stops,” he says. “We’re not two guys in our sixties anymore; we’re two guys back in our twenties.”
Giungi will remind Mason that the past is gone and the time to live is here and now. Both friends offer each other support in different ways.
“The memories last forever,” Mason said, going on to discuss the value of maintaining and nurturing lifelong friendships.
“Life is so much better and meaningful when you can bounce off challenges, disappointments, loss, happiness, sorrow, joy and fulfillment of dreams and ambitions with someone who shares all of this with you and does so in an honest and caring fashion,” Mason said. “In a nutshell, friends encourage you to go full steam ahead when life gets tough, and are there to celebrate the successes along the way.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at email@example.com.