Most people when you mention the “Odd Couple” think of the television show featuring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as Felix and Oscar, two polar opposite personalities that forged a lifelong friendship despite their differences.
Nan and Gerrie are the female version of the Odd Couple and have been friends for over 50 years despite being very different from one another.
Nan Stratton of Russellville and Gerrie Stewart of Michigan consider each other best friends and like Felix and Oscar couldn’t be any different from one another; however, that hasn’t stopped them from being close and spending the last 50 years writing letters, talking on the telephone weekly and visiting with one another despite the hundreds of miles in between them.
It all began 50 years ago at a Montgomery Ward Department store in Michigan where the two once worked. Both worked in separate areas. Nan, who is 5-foot-10, worked in linens and Gerrie, who is 4-foot-10, worked in pots and pans. Nan says Gerrie used to ask her all the time to reach on the top shelves where she wasn’t tall enough to maneuver and that is how their friendship blossomed. It wasn’t long until the two were inseparable. Through marriages and children, they were always together.
“I really liked her bubbling personality,” said Nan on why she became friends with Gerrie. “We are so different, but that doesn’t seem to matter,” she added.
Besides their extreme height difference there are other “Odd Couple” likenesses the two women share. Gerrie loves to cook where Nan does not. Nan says Gerrie can put out a spread like nobodies business, while she is fine eating off paper plates. Gerrie is a “neat freak” as Nan puts it, where she can let things lay for awhile and it doesn’t bother her.
“I found Nan to be funny,” said Gerrie on why she stuck around all these years. “I was very sad the day she left, but I understood she had to go with her husband,” Gerrie added.
The two were friends for 15 years before Nan moved from Michigan to Kentucky with her husband Floyd. Gerrie, although being sad her friend was leaving, was okay with it because she knew Floyd was a good man. “I told him he had better be good to her or I would come and get her,” said Gerrie.
Even though the two were separated by miles, they didn’t allow that to keep them apart as friends. Nan said Gerrie would come down to visit her a great deal when they were younger and she would travel back to Michigan to see Gerrie.
“I was there when her daughter was born.” said Nan, adding that she also kept in touch with that same daughter years later on a daily basis when Gerrie almost died and spent several days in the hospital.
Gerrie just recently spent a few weeks with Nan catching up on things. When she left a few days ago it was sad for her because she says at her age she wonders if it will be the last time she gets to see her friend. Gerrie is 86 and Nan is 79.
“I try to get down at least once a year,” said Gerrie. Nan isn’t able to travel as well. “We cheer each other up when we are together,” said Nan, who is all smiles while sitting beside her buddy. Both women have lost their husbands and their families have grown, but they still have each other and relish in the thoughts of when they will see one another again.
“I get my clothes ready a day or two ahead of time,” said Gerrie expressing how excited she gets before coming to visit her friend.
“I look forward to her coming because we both look forward to spending time together,” said Nan.