Edith Arndt and Annice Sampson walk for fitness & friendship

They are former next-door neighbors

Two Camas women appreciate their five decades of friendship.

Edith Arndt, 84, and Annice Sampson, 74, walk together four days a week through their neighborhood and into the downtown business core.

Their round trip route is a little less than two miles.

“Walking is the best exercise there is, but it takes discipline,” Arndt said recently, during an interview in her home. “I miss it, if I don’t walk.

“It’s good for your physical and mental well being,” she added. “It clears your head. If you have any problems, you will feel better after walking.”

Arndt said it is a lot more fun if you have someone to walk with.

“We laugh a lot,” she said. “We don’t change the world.”

During their walks, the women wave at and talk to local merchants and critique the storefront displays.

“If we don’t walk, there are a few people who miss us,” Arndt said. “That’s kind of nice.”

Sampson said she and Arndt discuss serious issues, but not too often.

“It gets addictive,” Sampson said regarding walking.

The women enjoy smiling and saying “good morning” to strangers who are in deep thought, and they love seeing youngsters on the way to story time at the Camas Public Library.

“It’s nice to keep up with what’s going on downtown,” Sampson said.

They have been friends since 1962, when they were next-door neighbors.

Sampson and her husband David moved in the mid-1970s to the Prune Hill area. They returned to the Evergreen Terrace neighborhood in 1984.

Arndt has been walking for fitness since she was 47. She used to walk with her husband, Otmar, after dinner. He died in 1996.

Arndt appreciates that walking can keep her weight down.

Several of her neighbors have taken up walking, after being inspired by her.

“Standing up is better than sitting down,” Arndt said. “Moving is better than standing up. You don’t have to race. Find your own pace.”

Walking around Camas can be challenging, according to Arndt.

“We live in a hilly town,” she said. “What goes down must come up.

“We huff and puff a little bit,” Arndt added. “Those hills are not getting easier.”

The women walk — rain or shine, but not if the sidewalks are icy.

“We don’t put ice skates on,’ Arndt said.

Seniors share a concern for others

In addition to walking, the friends spend some of their time volunteering around the community.

Arndt volunteers one day a week as a tutor at Prune Hill Elementary School.

She helps first- and fifth-graders improve their reading fluency and understanding.

“I love it,” Arndt said. “It is very rewarding.”

She has tutored for almost two decades, starting at Dorothy Fox Elementary.

For more than 20 years, Sampson has knitted caps, quilts and blankets for the youngest patients at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, in Vancouver, and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, in Portland.

She has knitted and crocheted quilts and hats for homeless individuals and victims of fires. Sampson has also created lap robes for residents of nursing homes and patients at the Vancouver campus of the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Some of her blankets have been used as tents in Africa, and she made 40 hats for orphans in Kazakhstan.

“It’s good to have a friend like that,” Arndt said, as she showed a scarf given to her by Sampson.

“Our friendship is 50-plus years in the making and going strong,” Sampson said. “I hope it goes another 50 years.

“We’ll walk and talk as long as we can recognize each other,” she added.