They were each other's first friend.

Glenn Long and Donald Roberts, both 90-years-old, do not remember a life without the other in it.

"I've known him ever since I've known anybody," said Long, now legally blind from a stroke in his eye in 2018.

The boys met before they even began school. Long and Roberts' families lived in the same neighborhood.

"We lived near his grandparents in Newby," said Roberts.

They went to Ruthton School together, both walking over a mile each way, crossing creeks to get there. When Long was seven years old, he became ill with tuberculosis and was unable to attend school for nearly two years.

"His mother would ride a horse and come to school every Friday to get his lessons for the next week," Roberts remembered. Things were not the same without Roberts' sidekick. "I missed him," he said, a tear rolling down his cheek.

The men lived through the Great Depression.

"We went through the 1930s. They (were) rough," said Roberts as he shook his head.

Long, too, remembered the struggle, "On our farm, we always killed hogs. We had ham. Mother canned all sorts of vegetables. Our table always had food on it though." Long and Roberts credited those lean years for their strong work ethic. Long said, "You learned you had to work, or you didn't eat."

They recalled their early years, playing marbles together, throwing rocks at each other. Roberts told the story of Long shooting him with a BB gun.

"We were always into something," he said with a grin.

During high school, the boys even got into a fight, though they quickly got over it.

"It didn't amount to nothing," said Roberts, his eyes meeting Long's as they broke into laughter. The two used to saddle up their horses to visit one another. "Back in those days, most people couldn't afford cars," Long explained.

During the 1950s, at the age of 21, the men proudly served their country in the Army. Long was stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland.

"It would get hot," he said, as he recalled living in military tents for eight months. "It was 104 degrees sometimes."

As for Roberts, he headed overseas as a tanker in Germany, where he remembered the German winters, "It got awful cold," he said.

Sitting side by side on the couch in Long's living room, the men shared story after story about their military experience, often wiping away tears as they looked back on their time in the service.

"It taught me things like making a bed, washing dishes, taking care of your clothes, having respect," Roberts, now a resident of McCready Manor, said with pride. "I can't hardly explain the feeling, but I'm proud to be a veteran."

After the military, the friends reunited at home in Madison County. They were neighbors once again.

"I helped you move things in here, didn't I," Roberts recalled, looking around the room. For 30 years, the two worked at IBM in Lexington and rode to work together every day. "We wore out a lot of tires," Roberts laughed.

Long and Roberts' friendship even extended to their children. Their daughters were inseparable and later served as matrons of honor in each other's weddings.

In 1981, tragedy struck Long's family when his daughter Teresa was killed in an automobile accident. Roberts was one of the first people Long called. The pain was still evident as Roberts recalled that night, "You ain't supposed to lose your young'uns before you go," his voice cracked.

Long attributed the mens' faith with overcoming. "We both grew up in Christian homes," he said. That same faith is responsible for both their marriages of over 60 years.

Theirs is a friendship that has spanned nine decades. "He's a great fellow," Roberts said of Long with a gentle smile.

Though time has changed them -- their bodies tired, faces wrinkled, hands weathered -- their love for one another grows stronger with each passing year. When asked to describe his best friend in one word, Long was unable to do it.

"I'd have to put it in two words -- great friend."

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