Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Back – While shooting photos for a recent story I happened on the old Dora High School Gym. It’s now the Alabama Mining Museum, but other than the sign, the exterior looks the same. I remember well when I was in school and we boys would gather around back before school started each morning. The guys who smoked, fired ’em up as we all discussed current events.

I also was introduced to gambling behind that gym. It was small time, but gambling just the same. We would flip quarters and one guy would call either odd or even.

If the caller said even and both quarters were either heads or both quarters were tails the caller wins. If one quarter was tails and the other was heads, the caller lost. Simple right. The first day, I won big and I thought, hey this is easy. I could get rich doing this. The next day I lost my lunch money and I went home hungry. On the third day, I wasn’t nearly as encouraged as the first day so I was a little slow to whip out my quarters and that proved to be a blessing as Mr. Gant walked around back of the gym and caught several guys “flipping”. He asked them to accompany him to his office and I later heard that he tore their jeans up and that you could actually smell burning cotton around his office for several hours.

To this day, I shy away from gambling. Jilda and I went to Las Vegas in September of 2002 and we allotted $20 for gambling. Jilda was fairly lucky and she played the slots for several hours before she gave up her $10. Mine went through the one armed bandit in about ninety seconds. I had a car stolen once in less time. The whole time I was playing that slot machine, I kept looking over my shoulder almost as if I expected Mr. Gant to come and say “Ricky Watson, would you accompany me down to the office, I need to introduce you to the board of education.”

Looking Forward – There are several reunions planned for this coming year. The class of 1953 will be honored at the Alumni Banquet in April. There are several other classes that plan to have reunions too. My good friend Bobbye Wade is fretting that we won’t have a good turnout. I for one, believe that we will. Why would someone not want to go to their class reunion? I’ve heard that some folks don’t want to come because they have gained weight or they’ve lost their hair or that they aren’t as successful as they feel they should be. All these excuses are lame. We’ve all gained a little weight and many of us have lost our hair but I guarantee you that our old friends and classmates will miss us if we don’t show up.
This week Jilda and I lost a very good friend, John Marcum who was 33 (not from Dora), to melanoma. During his memorial service on Tuesday, another one of our friends read the last email that John sent out a short time before he passed away. I want to share John’s advice:

I‘d like close with a few simple thoughts that are really very difficult
to implement in our very busy lives. So difficult in fact that
most of us have given up completely. Many, without even knowing it. I
suppose everyone is too busy with all the every day
stuff; work, bills, etc. Anyway, just consider this as a reminder:

Not one of us are getting out of here alive, so make it ALL count. Every
contact with another human being, every action, every
reaction, every smile, every promise, every tear, every friendship,
every handshake, every hug, every kiss, every “I Love You,
everything. Make it all count. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

Do something you have always wanted to do, but for whatever reason you
have put off until tomorrow or until the bills are paid
or until hell freezes over.

Most importantly: share, laugh, love, give, believe.

Live. Everyone – – – – – – right now, this instant, this moment.

Teachers – Submitted by Bobbye Wade

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO,decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?” He reminded the other dinner guests of the tired old saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

He said to another guest, a teacher, “Just to corroborate, Susan, be honest, What do you make?”

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, “You want to know what I make?”

“I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best.
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful over and over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again.

I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English.

I elevate them to experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments.
I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.
I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart—-and if someone ever tries to judge you by how much money you make, you pay them no attention.

You Want To Know What I Make?

I Make A Difference. Now, What about you?”

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