A story of friendship that spans decades has the pictures to prove it. It all started with one photo of five teenagers at a cabin in Capco Lake in northern California back in 1982.Video: Since '82, friends recreate photo every 5 years (on this page)
They made a pact to take the exact same photo every five years and they have kept that promise. The friends, in order of how they appear in the photo from left to right, are John Wardlaw, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney, John Molony, and John Dickson.
Molony is always pictured holding a jar, in homage to that first photo where he held a Folgers Instant Coffee container that was being used to house a cockroach the guys had decided to keep as a mascot.
The pals appeared on TODAY Tuesday to tell the tale behind the photo. Wardlaw told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie that the popularity of the pictures, which have gone viral online, has "shocked" the group.
Wardlaw, who was nicknamed “Wedge” in the eighties for his skinny frame and buzz cut, keeps the crew together. The cabin belongs to his family and he grew up going fishing there with his grandfather. The first trip the five guys took together was a special one because it was the first time his family let him go without adult supervision.
It was Wardlaw’s idea to take the second photo five years after the first, and he suggested they mirror that first photo Dickson had taken.
“Five years later when we were all there I said, 'Hey, we’re all here again. Let’s take this photo again.’ That started the five-year tradition,” he told TODAY.Story: Her graduation gift from dad: A 13-year labor of love
According to the group, Rumer has changed the most, and Burney has changed the least. “I’ve looked exactly the same since I was a child,” Burney said.
No matter the changes (or lack of them), the group has remained friends.
“Like any group of people, when you’re really close and you go through life, your interests change and and that sort of thing, so sometimes we get irritated with each other,” Rumer said. “Especially that first year we spent like a month at that cabin doing all sorts of stuff and we got on each other’s nerves. So nobody talked to each other for like half an hour.”Story: Terminal cancer patient, 12, inspires with viral makeup tutorials
The friends spoke regularly in the years between the photos, and a few of the guys have gone up to the cabin during that time. All of them still live out west, except for Molony, who lives in New Orleans.
This year, they took the latest shot. For the next photo, which will be taken in 2017, all plan on attending, once again.
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints