Remember Cinderella? Even in a fairy tale all good things come to an end..the clock struck 12 midnight and the carriage turned back into a pumpkin.
That came to mind as I thought about my Patterson High School class of 1959 and our 50th reunion celebration last weekend. We worked toward this celebration of an era for an entire year.
Friends, class members, even relatives [ several cousins ] began gathering in rural south Georgia, [ Pierce County] on Thursday. Some were fortunate to have family they could stay with while others enjoyed the hospitality of the newest accomodations in town.
On Friday it was a "Girls Only" time with an afternoon party hosted by a class member, Glenda Weathers Thompson, who returns to enjoy the country life back home and keep up her family's farm where she grew up in Mershon. 1959 grads and spouses of same enjoyed great food, lots of chatter, laughter, giggles, catching up and snapping a few candid pictures of course! With windows surrounding us on all sides of the porch it was ideal..delightful even!
That wasn't the end of this special day though. We hurriedly made order of our hostess' kitchen and moved on in a caravan to visit with one of 3 living high school teachers who is 96 years old and recouperating from a recent fall. This visit with Mrs. Florice Deen turned out to be a gift exchange. It was our gift to this wonderful lady who even at 96 still has a regal air about her. Such a Lady! It was also her gift to us..a time to share both ways, a joy to us to see her doing so much better than we anticipated. We shared some memories, a few until now untold secrets and a lot of laughter and expressions of appreciation to one who taught school during an era when teachers could become involved in the lives of students and ultimately make lifelong differences, enriching our lives with teaching, experiences, challenges and more. In the 50 years since there were several of these dear people whom I have always referred to as "my teacher friends." Mrs. Deen was my mentor..before I even knew what the word meant.
Two others of our teachers are still with us but only one was able to be there on Saturday night at the 'main event'. Mr. Mershon Aspinwall could not be there but Mr & Mrs Jimmy Screws were such a delightful addition as guests & We were honored to have them.
It was a pleasure to have attending also two with whom we attended school but were not part of the graduating 51 class members, Jaunette Richardson Sauls & Frances Cox-Thigpen. We would have opened it up to more had space not been an issue.
Much planning had gone into making this "Celebration of an Era' a memorable event and it was made easier with today's technology. Time spent on this was my own choice since I volunteered but it was very time consuming. At the same time it was a blessing from my perspective. I had the opportunity to be in touch with almost all our classmates and got to know the wonderful, gifted, generous, God fearing, family centered grown ups they have all become. Lucky Me!
With some forethought the steering group [Darrell Thomas, Bonnie Dubberly, Charlotte Smith & I ] made decisions to trim down and simplify every element of the weekend affair. The only dissappointment is that some were not able to be with us. Previously scheduled travel, Health or Family issues prevented some from coming & one in particular who expected to be in attendance had to opt out at the very last minute due to a recent diagnosis of cancer and was having a bad day. We had a total attendance of 53 including spouses & other guests.
Many people stepped in to help and may have thought their assistance insignificant..it was not! They helped things to run smoothly-that was amazing. Lucille Crosby Brown provided ID tags with Sr. photos and she and Linda Byrd Parker greeted everyone with a program and colorful silk flower leis as they arrived Saturday afternoon. I forgot to thank several. Charlotte Smith presented our hosts Darrell & Sue Thomas with a gift of her life size GOURD PEOPLE who were properly stationed to greet everyone outside the entrance at the pond house. The beautiful green plants that were brought then shared as thank you gifts were provided by Eugene & Tommie Mobley....how thoughtful!
As the crowd gathered during the first hour they could enjoy the display of a variety of 'early years' mementos so generously shared. There were football jackets, jerseys, FFA jackets, Fashion items, medals from literary competition, Miss PHS photos, Photo albums and newspaper clippings that survived the past 50+ years.
I truly considered this project a labor of love and a joyful experience. While challenging at times..I enjoy a challenge, especially the technology. It impresses our Grandchildren.
While no special 'thank you ' was needed or expected, the beautiful expression of appreciation from this group will soon find the perfect home in the Harrison House in Brundidge, Alabama - likely in our living room. I will treasure it & tell all guests exactly where it came from.
I have saved the best for last. We had a time on Saturday's program to recognize or pay tribute to those who have passed away. Bonnie Dubberly recognized those who are no longer with us. Darrell Thomas & Anne Boatright assisted in recognizing deceased U.S. Veterans, Class members and spouses of same who served in any branch of the U.S. Military. Navadine Callahan spoke in appreciation for the teachers during our school years and Mary Grace Hancock & Charlotte Smith spoke about special memories of teachers as well as an update on Mrs. Florice Deen.
After dinner time was alloted for people to take the floor to share memories, things about themselves, whatever they chose. This became almost entirely a sharing of testimonies to what God has meant and continues to be doing in the lives of individuals and their loved ones, prayer requests and of course a few funnies shared balanced things out just right! To that I add: To God be the Glory!
A post script: I am not privy to what everyone did with their free time or after hours on Friday and Saturday nights but the ladies who stayed at the new motel along with another Patterson student who lives in Blackshear..well We had "church" for two or three hours- Such a precious time together. O my how sweet it was!
We women have no earthly idea what went on when a group of the men gathered for Coffee or Breakfast at a local restaurant. Likely we will never know but this one thing is sure..they couldn't have had as much fun as we did. Men have fun differently I suppose.
I never intended this to sound like a 1950s newspaper account of what everyone in the community was up to socially. It just turned out that way. Perhaps that's appropriate considering the era we were celebrating.