Lewin and London, 72 years later

Friends met in high school, now neighbors in senior community

Mitchell Lewin and Howard London, both of whom are 86, have been friends for 73 years. Both of them are widowers and both now live in The Park at Vernon Hills. (Posted October 24, 2013)

This is not a story.

Mitchell Lewin and Howard London, both 86, insist it's not.

"We met at Sullivan High School," Lewin says, sitting in the dining room of the senior community where he lives. "We both got married, had kids. Our wives died. We both got old. Then I moved in here about a month ago. And Howard moved in this week."

That's it. Why, they wonder, would that be a story?

I explain, again, that Lewin's daughter Jill has written to tell me she thinks that 72 years of friendship is worth writing about, and I agree.

"The only thing remarkable is that we're still here," London says, amiably. "Everyone else is gone."

It's noon on Thursday, and here at The Park at Vernon Hills, they're sitting almost as close as they did the day they met in 1941, at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park.

Freshmen that year were seated alphabetically. Lewin. London. That's how it began.

London remembers. Lewin had forgotten.

"He'll answer the questions better than I will," Lewin says. "My memory hasn't been that good."

Lewin and London were studious boys — "not extrovertish," London says — but from the beginning they got along.

Through college (Northwestern for Lewin, University of Illinois for London), and on through stints in the military, they stayed in touch. Lewin went into the metal-casting business. London, who became an accountant, still does Lewin's taxes.

Lewin married in 1950, London in 1954.

"Did I go to your wedding with Bertha?" Lewin says.

London nods. "Yes. I have a picture somewhere."

"A great woman," Lewin says.

Over the years, Lewin had three children. So did London. Lewin and his family moved to Skokie. London and his family moved to Skokie too. Just coincidence. So was the fact that for a while they both wound up in Highland Park.

With their wives, they had get-togethers where the men played bridge, the women played mahjong. Sometimes they golfed, went out to dinner, and in recent years, often, to lunch.

"Funny, you asking these questions," London says as the waitress refills their coffee cups. "Things go by and you don't think about them."

After Bertha died, Howard London married Dorothy, who passed away almost five years ago. In 2010, Mitchell Lewin lost his wife of 60 years, Sally.