By Otis Griffin
Does anyone remember when each small community had their own personal school?? Many times the school and a church held the neighborhood together, just like glue. In some of the Southern Country towns, if the natives had a store, gin or possibly a Post Office, they felt they were chopping in some tall cotton, without any bo’ weevils.
As you mature, which is a better sounding way, of saying ‘you gittin’ older‘, I believe we tend to forget the bad and mostly remember the good times. Just ask a former classmate about the teachers?? Oh yeah, they were injured wildcat mean, but I have to say—–fair. I remember the ‘whoopings’ I got and I guess I had them coming. But, the famous last words,. “They always caught me and let the guilty culprit off, slick axle grease easy.” Teachers’ pet, teachers’ pet!!!
Friends, can you remember the crack in the walk had been there when your parents attended school?? Why hadn’t someone fixed it!! On second thought, I’m glad it wasn’t repaired, because our reminiscing conversations would bring up the old crack of 5 hundred years. Probably at one time or ’nuther the entire school population had tripped, due to the crack or small gully. A hallowed landmark. The twisted, rusty, swaying monkey bars that each gully jumper swung at one time or another showing off. How many times did they fall and hit the gravel and dirt? Even the little gals would jump up and swear “I’m O.K.”, when they ‘skinned the cat’ and landed on their noggins. Just because bones were sticking out of the legs and arms didn’t count. No suhhh!!! Do not admit any pain.
Neighbor, do you remember who broke out the back glass of the arithmetic room with the friction taped hardball?? Back then, everyone got amnesia. How many boys did it take to twist the smokehouse chains on the back side of the gym or who was the littlest (that’s Southern for no bigger than a chicken mite) to crawl through the backside window to sneak in and play ball when no one was allowed? Supposedly everyone hated to go to school, but somehow, when there was nothing else to do the group would congregate at the (despised) school.
Did you ‘figger’ out, since you were in the building anyway ?? I’ll just slip up to my home room and holler out loud like I’d wanted to a million times. Sho’ felt good!! Release all that pent up tension!! But, with school in session, Mrs. Cason or Mrs. Ricks would take me to the cloakroom for you know what!! Sometimes, during these illegal entries, we’d sneak in the dark, feeling our way, like a 21 badge Boy Scout, finally locating our home room. Go sit on the very front row. Why?? To see how it felt without any desk in front of you to kick or knee someone in the back. Don’t forget some of the mean old boys would actually pull these sweet, innocent, little gals’ pigtails. For no reason at all. Was that the first step in spooning that would actually take place in a few years?? Or maybe just a natural reaction!! Could it be that Boy George got mad, because he thought they were sweeter than him?
Beloved, do you believe in miracles?? How in the world did the gum trees survive with all the initials hacked in the bark. At that time, maybe only 3 feet high and rising. I guess everybody changed loves about every week or so. Even the ones that didn’t love someone, would temporarily fall in love, just so their initials would be like the rest of the class.
I never saw Cupid in person, only pictures from books. But, he blasted me a few thousand times. He shot me through the heart with a Red Oak arrow and sometimes with a butcher knife if things didn’t work out. Didja’ every wonder why that little ‘fella’ didn’t have on any clothes. The boy orta’ put on some tuf-nut overalls and some Red Goose brogan work shoes. Mrs. Douglas probably would have let him borrowed a red flannel shirt. Mr. Simpson could loan him a ball cap. Nope, just the bow and his quiver of arrows, just like Little (Bubba) Beaver tracking Red Ryder. I’ll bet his Momma was proud of Cupid running around naked like that.
We are told, supposedly by the high brows, that change is good. But, consolidation has taken away this hometown, caring atmosphere. Why did some folks want to make a big school out of a raft of small ones?? Could it be the bottom line——-money? The old School at Charleston, that Momma attended through the 10th grade, can no longer be found. The grammar school at Arlington has disappeared. Who dismantled the historic school at Cuba? What happened to the community school at Lucy? Things change for the better, so say our illustrious Soothsayers. Most of us ‘pore’ old redneck, Southern Hicks ain’t as smart as we’d like to be. However, we ain’t as dumb, as some of those city slickers think we are………either. If Abe had stayed in Illinois hoeing corn like he should have, we’d all be a lot better off.
Southern Bred, Southern Fed and When I Die, I’ll be Southern Graveyard DIXIE Dead — Glory!
By Otis Griffin