Four men in their eighties came together from different parts of the country on New Year's Eve to drink champagne on a street corner, fulfilling a boyhood vow they made back in 1934.
Sixty-six years ago, the four pals pledged to meet on New Year's Eve 1999 at the spot where they had their one and only run-in with the law. They even put it down on paper.
When the four men met on the street corner at 7 p.m. with their wives and several other friends, they shouted with glee. "A friend for that long is a friend forever," said John Quast, 80, the only one still living in St. Paul.
When they were teenagers, the four were arrested after they put up a barricade to stop cars on Halloween and threw eggs at the drivers.
The friends were separated soon after their vow but kept in touch. Quast had not seen two of them, Stanley Goodsill of Ridgeland, S.C., and Dudley Warner of San Diego, since shortly after World War II. But Willard Allstrom of Rye, N.Y., still visited occasionally.
When Goodsill married in 1951, his wife, Penny, marveled that he still kept the contract in his bureau. "In this family, we keep our promises, and this seemed like a really important one," she said.
That all four friends were able to make it to their old hangout was amazing. The odds that all of them would survive to 80 or beyond were less than 1.5 percent, said Allstrom, 81, a retired insurance actuary.
Quast is a retired dentist. Goodsill, 81, was an accountant. Warner, 81, managed wineries.
"We didn't think we'd live long enough to have the event," said Quast, "but when you're 15 or 16 years old, that seems like 2,000 years" away.
When the new year arrived, they were so wrapped up reminiscing that they didn't notice. "About a quarter after 12, we realized that it was midnight," Quast said, "and we did open champagne."