Natchez duo cherishes bond of friendship for more than 50 years

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

Amid the laughter, gossip and stories, more than half a century of friendship follows Hazel Ferrell and Carolyn Krueger to the lunch table every Friday.

But the duo’s bond isn’t just a friendship. They are as close as family.

The ladies’ have been a part of each others lives since 1957, when Carolyn worked on the political campaign of former sheriff Billy Ferrell — Hazel’s late husband.

“If you didn’t know any better you’d think they were sisters,” Hazel’s son Tommy Ferrell said. “They style their hair the same, they dress the same, they have the same likes and dislikes. They are very similar.”

But Hazel, 84, and Carolyn, 79, lived different lives that sometimes pulled them apart.

Hazel’s adult life quickly became wrapped up in the political arena. She had events to attend, campaigns in which to participate and a new life as the sheriff’s wife, and later, the sheriff’s mother. And Hazel had a career of her own at the Adams County courthouse for years.

In the meantime, Carolyn was busy raising a family of seven children.

“Hazel worked in those early years, and I was having a lot of babies,” Carolyn said.

But the traits both women developed during these busy times in their lives are what they admire most about each other now, they said.

Carolyn said Hazel’s abilities to talk to anyone and fit into any situation are two traits she admires about her friend.

“I appreciate her friendliness and her being able to have a good time,” Carolyn said. “Hazel always has a good time.”

And just as Hazel’s ability to talk to anyone and put people at ease was cultivated in politics, Carolyn’s acceptance, patience and kindness matured along with each of her children.

“Carolyn is more of a motherly type and has raised so many kids and grandkids and great grandkids that she is much better on that front,” Tommy said.

But now, the children are grown and careers are complete, and Hazel and Carolyn can catch up on lost time.

“I just like being friends with (Carolyn,)” Hazel said. “She’s fun and she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

“I’m a true friend to her, and she’s been good to me, too. When my husband died, Carolyn was there for me. If there’s a friend, there’s a friend, there’s a friend.”

Friday lunch is a must these days, but the pair takes companionship on the road too.

“We’ve taken trips together and we get along well,” Carolyn said. “(Hazel) talks a lot. You can go 200 miles and you’re just there. I’m teasing, but it’s nice.

“(Hazel) went with me to visit family. Hazel is real friendly. I have an aunt left in Greenville, S.C., and Hazel has been with me there. She’s real good at talking to my Aunt Dot, who is 97.”

Both women said some of their best times spent together have been on the road traveling to visit their families, but Tommy remembers the funny trips too.

Both women took a trip to Nashville, Tenn., to support Tommy at a sheriff’s conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in 2002-2003 when he was named President of the National Sheriff Association.

While the ladies were sparse with the details of the trip, Tommy said he remembers the trip vividly.

“One of my fondest memories of them is when we were having social get-togethers at the hotel and Carolyn got lost in the hotel. We had to send out search parties to find her because the hotel is so massive,” Tommy said.

“When we found her, she was at one of the parties with some of the other sheriffs dancing and having a ball. She wasn’t worried about it at all.”

While Hazel still makes it around town meeting new transplants in the Natchez area, Carolyn said over time, she’s become more selective in maintaining her friendships.

“The older I find that I get, the more picky I am about my friends and the people I’m with,” Carolyn said. “I don’t just go and do. I just have my two or three really close friends.”

With age, Carolyn said she can see the value of those she keeps the closest to her heart.

“The older I get, the closer to my close friends I get,” she said.

The friendship Carolyn and Hazel share is full of humor, history and many adventures, but just like every long-lasting relationship, there have been rough times.

“I have been blessed with good health, and my friend over here is falling a part,” Hazel said jokingly across the table. “(Carolyn) got a little irritable (last) year when she was sick, but we made fun of her for it. And when she admitted it herself, she knew it was bad.”

Carolyn underwent two back surgeries in the past few years and said the pain from the operations turned her into a self-admitted challenge for not only her family, but her friend, as well.

“I knew that I was being difficult, but I was mad with the world,” Carolyn said.

“Other than this year, I don’t remember us ever having cross words,” Hazel said. “She knows when she needs me, I’ll be there, and when she’s sick, I am there. It’s because I love her, not because I want the praise for it.”