Tidbits - January 26, 2023


  We are going through the tasks all families eventually go through, clearing out our Mother’s possessions.
  Of Shake and Betty’s four children, I am the only one who inherited their hoarding.
  It’s good that Dibbie, Elizabeth and Jamie don’t have that disease. They are chunking stuff with which  I couldn’t part, like the obituary of Aunt Dora’s second husband. I never knew him, but....
  Mother saved the programs of every recital, band concert, graduation, baccalaureate sermon, cantata, etc. Do most mothers do that? Probably.
  Some things we cannot be throw away, like letters my parents wrote to each other. None of us will read them, however, even though my parents are both dead. Those are their private words.
  Dibbie was going through drawers and the cedar chest Thursday and walked to my room, where I was working on this week’s paper. She handed me two type written pages.
  There it was, something I have been looking for nearly 54 years, my high school graduation speech.
  I remember putting the speech up somewhere when I got home from graduation on June 4, 1969. I didn’t know it was lost until 1972, the year Jamie graduated. Mike Coleman, the president of the Class of 72, remembered my speech and asked if he could borrow it to get some ideas for his speech.
   I told him, “No problem,” then looked where I thought I put it. It wasn’t there. It remained lost for more than half a century.
  As president of the Class of 1969, my job was to give the Farewell Address. My goal was to make every sweating person, packed elbow to elbow in the Crack Box gym, cry.
  After graduation, Lewie Shealy, our biggest football player, told me he shed a few tears. Mission accomplished.
  So, here it is, a speech unheard since 1969. As a person, who has been in this business since 1973, I started to make some changes, but decided against it. This is the legitimate writing of an 18-year-old. I did add some commas and quotation marks. Speeches are to be read by the speech writer, and not to be graded for punctuation, etc.
  Although I don’t remembering typing the speech, it was in ALL CAPS. Those who followed my mother on Facebook will appreciate that!
 Now, let’s drift back to June 4,1969:
  “Tonight a long chapter in a large book called the “History of Saluda High School” will come to an end. The writing of this chapter has taken over twelve years to complete. The contents of the chapter contain the histories, the adventures, the excitements, and sadnesses of a group of young people called the Class of 69.
  Our stay at SHS has been a wonderful experience, for here we have learned so many facts that will help us as we start a new life. We have learned through the help of our teachers, coaches, and administrators the important aspects of life that we  shall use in the future.
  Nowhere in the world can one find a greater faculty than we the one that we have been privileged to know these years. We are privileged to call each member of our faculty “friend.” In not many places will one find a group of people who will laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry, hurt when we hurt, and help when we need help.
  The coaches at Saluda High School have instilled in  those of' us, who participated in athletics, a sense of pride. Our coaches taught us to be proud that we were from a place called Saluda, S.C. They taught us to hold our heads up high and to be proud of that purple and white that we wore into each game.
  Our faculty and coaches have made a lasting impression on our lives, and their memory we will always keep.
  Perhaps the most emotional people here tonight are our parents, for they must finally realize that their children have grown up. That little girl building castles in the sand is no longer a little girl and that little boy trying desperately to hit the baseball is no longer a little boy. They are now young men and women, ready to set out on a new adventure that they have never seen before.
  SHS has laid a foundation for us, but the decision is now up to us, the Class of 69, as to whether we make that foundation the base of an Empire State Building or the base of a one story hut.
  Tonight, we must face the fact that we are no longer a part of this great institution. We must carry a new load of responsibility. We must go into our new world and do the best we can. What awaits us in our life, we do not know, but we do know that SHS has given us a push in the direction of success.
  These last few minutes are precious to the class of 69, for we realize for perhaps the last time  in our lives our class will be together in its entirety. We look around and see faces we have seen for twelve years. Friendships we have known and loved for so long suddenly seem more sacred, for we realize that after tonight we, perhaps, will never see some of our classmates again. Only great memories of these years will ever follow.
  The memories of our stay at SHS will be imprinted in our mind as great memories, but as the old saying goes "all good things must come to an end” and Saluda High School has been our “thing.”
  So, now the chapter in the history book is about ended . The historian is carefully printing the words “the end” at the completion of the chapter.  So, as the book closes, the curtain falls, and the door shuts, so ends the Class of 69’s stay at SHS. As we walk up the aisle tonight, we realize that there is no turning back, the door of high school closes, but SHS has put us on that first step, now we must climb to the heights of success.
  So, now we say to you our teachers, coaches, administrators, parents, and relatives, that in years to come, we, the Class of 69, hope that you will be as proud of us, as we are thankful for you.”
  There is one statement in that speech that rings true. There are members of my class I have not seen since the night we graduated. How that can happen in a small community like ours, I do not know.

  Until he passed away, Murray Gunter was a regular Wednesday morning visitor when our office was on North Main Street. He’d come by to purchase his paper, and carry on our weekly gabfest..
  With Murray gone, his son Legare would drive down from Columbia to visit his mother Lilly on Wednesday, and he stopped by the Sentinel to get a paper for her.
  Like with his dad, we enjoyed conversing.
  Marie Easler Cockrell was the younger sister of Oscar Easler, who started first grade with me in Mrs. Annie Mae Riser’s class.
  She and her twin sister Floree always had something funny to say. Their sister Betty Porter is a longtime member of Emory Church, and the twins and many members of their family have visited through the years.
  Emily Timmerman Quattlebaum Hammond was a former member of my Sunday School class at Emory. Like Marie, she loved to laugh.
  I’ll certainly miss Legare, Marie and Emily. Prayers for their families.