An Unusual Friendship, Forged Over Thanksgiving
Larry Rolf and Denny Daniels know their relationship is an unlikely one. They're best friends, and they were both married to the same woman — her name was Sharon — though not at the same time.
They met on Thanksgiving, in 1990, just outside of Minneapolis. Denny and Sharon were dating. Larry and Sharon had broken up, and Larry had re-married 13 years prior.
"I asked [Sharon] what she wanted to do for Thanksgiving," Denny told Larry at StoryCorps. "She said, 'Well, let's go over to Larry's.' I said, 'Wait a minute, you want to go over to your ex-husband's for Thanksgiving?' "
Larry said he had no problem with the idea of his ex-wife bringing a boyfriend with her. They'd been divorced for more than a decade, after all.
"You want to bring someone along, it's just another cup you add to the soup," Larry said.
But Denny wasn't thrilled with the idea. He said he came to a compromise with Sharon: They'd go for an hour and then leave.
"But we kind of hit it off," he told Larry. The two are both runners, and it didn't take long before Larry was encouraging Denny to join his running club.
"Yeah, by 10 o'clock I thought, was this guy going to move in or what?" Larry recalled.
Larry said he was happy when Sharon and Denny got married. He said he was "a complete horse's ass" when he and Sharon were together, drinking and chasing women.
"She took care of the kids when I was out in bars," Larry said. "And how she made it — sometimes it just amazes me."
Denny and Sharon were married for some 17 years, until she died of lung cancer in 2009.
"Her last years with you, I think, were probably the happiest in her life," Larry told Denny. "And a couple of weeks before she died, I got to tell her how sorry I was and she forgave me."
"I do not know without you if I could have gotten through it," Denny told his friend. "Every day you would call me, make sure that I was OK. You still do.
"When you lose someone that you love, it creates a hole in your soul that is hard to fill and you helped fill that. You are more like a brother than a friend. And I appreciate that so very much."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon with Jasmyn Belcher.
StoryCorps Bonus: 'Sundays At Rocco's'
In this animated video, Nicholas Petron remembers his grandfather, Rocco Galasso, who moved to New York City from Italy. For 18 years, Rocco served as owner and superintendent of an apartment building where much of his family resided — until the day they were given notice that their building faced demolition to make way for new apartments. As Nick remembers, that's when everything changed.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
It's Friday, and time for StoryCorps. Today: two best friends who were both married to the same woman - of course, not at the same time. Larry Rolf and Denny Daniels know their relationship is an unlikely one. And at StoryCorps, the two sat down to talk about how they first met on Thanksgiving.
DENNY DANIELS: I asked her what she wanted to do for Thanksgiving. She said, well, let's go over to Larry's. I said, wait a minute, you want me to go over to your ex-husband's for Thanksgiving?
LARRY ROLF: I didn't really have a problem when Sharon said that she was bringing somebody - just another cup you add to the soup.
DANIELS: I said, well, I'll compromise. We'll go for an hour. She says, that's OK. But we kind of hit it off.
ROLF: Yeah, about 10 o'clock, I thought, was this guy going to move in or what?
ROLF: But I am so glad that Sharon and you got married. I was complete horse's ass with the relationship that I had. I was drinking, chasing; and Sharon was there. She took care of the kids when I was out in bars. And how she made it - sometimes, it just amazes me. And her last years with you, I think, were probably the happiest in her life. But a couple of weeks before she died, I got to tell her what I thought, and how sorry I was. And she forgave me.
DANIELS: I don't know without you, if I could have gotten through it. Every day you would call me, make sure that I was OK. You still do. When you lose somebody that you love, it creates a hole in your soul that's hard to fill, and you helped fill that. You're more like a brother than a friend. And I appreciate that so very much.
WERTHEIMER: That's Denny Daniels and Larry Rolf. The two still get together for the holidays. Their interview, like all the others, will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. To see StoryCorps' newest animated short, visit NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.