Weekly Newspaper covering Marion, Schley, Chattahoochee, Webster, and Stewart Counties.
School fire sparks flashbacks
of many special memories
From the June 26, 2013 issue of The Journal
In light of the fire last Friday/Saturday, I wonder how many of my fellow Marion Countians have been having flashbacks of special moments in their lives that happened at the historic school on Burkhalter Avenue.
It served as a school for various grade levels for 59 years, so I know it was the site of many, many significant moments.
As a weekly newspaper publisher, reading and writing have obviously played huge roles in my life. The portion of the building that is no longer standing is where I learned those invaluable skills.
I can remember coming home from my first day of the first grade like it was yesterday. My dad asked me, Did you learn to read today?
I said, No, not yet, and he jokingly replied, Well, then I dont know why we sent you to school.
Later that week, thanks to the late Mrs. Ida Bob Webb, I proudly opened a book and began to read aloud to my parents. See Spot Run. Run, Spot, Run.
Oh how those simple sentences from Fun with Dick and Jane transformed my world.
It has been said that sometimes you do not know what you have until it is gone. Thanks to our volunteer firefighters most of the building survived, but seeing a significant portion of it destroyed made me think of many other experiences inside her hallowed halls.
As I stood inside the auditorium after the fire, my first thoughts were of the fabulous concert recently given by the new Marion County Middle/High School Performance Academy. That was one of my favorite evenings inside the structure. I watched our current crop of talented youngsters enthusiastically unveil the results of many hours of hard work as the crowd, including many now older residents who attended the school many, many years ago, absolutely beamed with joy while watching.
It was very obviously one of those moments when you can somehow feel the community coming together. I have witnessed similar moments in Eagle Stadium at the new school as our football team soared to new heights. The old auditorium held her own with the fancy new football stadium that night. Like many members of Eagle Nation, I am proud of the new school and athletic facilities, but since we do not have an auditorium at the new school, we should all be even more thankful that our firefighters saved the historic old structure. Our youngsters whose talents run more musically/artsy than athletically need a special venue of their own where they can shine, too.
I next thought of my own, much more humble career on the stage. Myself, Frank Killingsworth, and someone else whose name currently escapes my aging brain had our moment in the spotlight as the three main characters in Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?
I do not recall any of my lines, but as one of the fake George Washingtons, they included some zingers that brought laughter from the audience and joy to my heart.
After finally walking out of the auditorium last Saturday, I glanced back and could almost see myself some 30-plus years ago slipping back in with young cohorts like Brian Moon, David Benford, Harold Curlee, Bengy Foster, Michael Murray, and whoever else was lucky enough on a particular day to get to walk uptown to hang out for a while after baseball practice. The walk up Broad Street to Jakes Drugstore would usually include a detour to the auditorium.
As youngsters we would hang on every word of our Babe Ruth baseball coach (the current Superintendent, Ricky McCorkle) during practice, but would begin to get a little anxious when his post-practice pep talks ran a little long. We were hoping we would get done in time to slip up to the auditorium for some afterschool studying of our new favorite subject - girls.
I am not sure at that point if we even knew exactly what it was that attracted us to the mysterious creatures who were members of the Carol Eason Dance Academy, but we sure looked forward to figuring it out.
One thing that I hope we all figured out over the last weekend is that we do not give our local firefighters and emergency workers near enough credit or appreciation.
Maybe it is because we have come to expect them to always be there, because they always are. Sort of like how we often take our closest family members for granted.
Maybe it is because we forget that they are unpaid volunteers, who have full-time jobs and families just like the rest of us.
Maybe it is because they do not ask for praise, because that is not why they do what they do. They are a diverse bunch of individual community members who simply share a love of their community and desire to help in times of crises.
After pulling a child from the smashed, overturned car moments before fire engulfed it, Dwight Stubbs had an aw, shucks manner as he looked into television cameras and gave credit to the grace of God.
Our smalltown volunteer firefighters are the best kind of heroes - heroes who, like Mr. Stubbs, insist that they are not heroes at all.
Many thanks from my memories and me!