From Alaska

May 27th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Opinion

“You Can Go Home Again - Sorta”
Photos & Text By Doris Owen Ward

Landscapes and people change, but a few minutes with them restore the familiar and beloved. A reunion of Beebe High students of yesteryear on April 24 was such a time when we met at the ASU-BB cafeteria for a super serving of memories. Most had been at other reunions, and a few showed up after a long absence. At least one, Jack Loretz, had never attended.
Jack and Johnnie Louise Powell were married by my dad in our living room just before he went away to the Navy in WWII.  I kept in loose touch and saw her a couple of years before she died, but I hadn’t seen Jack since he left Beebe. His son Danny, a pastor, brought him from Carlisle, where Jack operated a restaurant until his health slowed him down. Jack was one of the Badger greats in the glory years of the late 1940s.
The Class of ’39 was the “oldest” class represented by John Owens, smiling as ever with Jean. The oldest person attending was Kelly Jones, a 92-year-old retired minister.
C.B. Risk, attending with wife Thelma, read names (and class) of those we lost last year: Lillie Marsh ’30; Dink Wilkerson “33; Emma Flynt Bowie “38; Forrest Wisdom ’39; Noal Harper ’40; Leon McDaniel ’40; Norma Ruth Fisher Thomas ’40; Juanita Kelly Jones ’41; William Kenneth Jennings ’43; Thomas Crow Brown ’44; Ray Scroggs ’44; Retha Mae Bass Fudge ’45; Mildred McKinney Johnson ’45; Billy Ray King ’45; Emma Jean Johnson Holland ’46; Mattie Lee Yielding Hefner ’46; Glen Garrison ’47; Lillie Hill Marsh ’48; Lowell Weatherly ’54; Troy Carlisle ’45; and Gwen Fecher ’46.
Deloris Short and her committee were commended for the huge job of keeping contact and planning the annual event.  I hope most of the near-100 present in April return next year and bring a missing alum.
My few days in Beebe with family included a full-day tour by Edwana and Royce Daniel, who had visited me in Alaska. First was a visit to Beebe Retirement Center for an unannounced call on Mildred Robbins. She woke from a nap, threw out her hands with  “I’m so glad to see you.”  Her humor is sharp and her eyes shone as we reminisced.
On Earth Day in 84 degrees, after lunch at the Hog’s Breath buffet, with exceptional service by Louise Loanes, I saw the changing landscapes of Antioch, Stony Point, and Camp Ground Road, where we knocked at the door of my former classmate Delvene Bumpass Downing, enjoying a quiet visit with her brother Gerald, until we barged in.
Jeannie Lindsey and Wilma Beard took me to the Appreciation Night for ASU-BB faculty and staff on April 23.  An unexpected event, in that I put on the only Sunday clothes I brought and arrived at the Seventies Celebration full of tie-dye and rainbow bandanas in the crowd of nearly 300.  I was thrilled to hear plans for the campus and to share appreciation for those who continue a legacy I hold dear.  A good thunderstorm during the night—perfect.
I left Beebe with sister-in-law Janie Owen to drive to Tulsa immediately after the BHS reunion. She had tickets to hear Patti Page sing in Claremore, where the 82-year-old legend brought down the house as their favorite daughter returned, and for a concert by the World Famous Platters. As I write this I am listening to “The Great Pretender,” one of the hits we heard.  A mystery tour with her church group took us to Sedan, Kansas, to the Emmett Kelley Museum, and other tourist stops.  Best was lunch at a BBQ place near a Quonset hut full of bright flowers ready to transplant.  I wouldn’t be able to dig in my planters for another month; I only hoped all the snow would be gone on my return to Haines by May 6. (It was.)  The open countryside dotted with cattle and goats evoked gratitude for the Good Lord’s creation.
Thanks to all who made the trip wonderful. Stay in touch. You have my email.