Friday, June 14, 2013

N is for Never Say Never

Inevitably, if I say I’ll never do something, I wind up doing it. Alice and I (and later in my college years, Frank and I) used to walk to the PO on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after chapel. I guess we went on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, too, but I don’t have definite recollections of that. On our way, we’d pass an old two-story house on the right. I always shuddered, wondering who in the world would live there. At one time in its life, it might have been considered antebellum, but now it just looked run down. The dirt yard didn’t do anything to make it look better, I can assure you. I’d NEVER live there!

However, when Frank and I set the date for our wedding, we began to look for housing in Clinton. There was nothing that we could afford. I don’t think I had snagged the job of Veterans’ Clerk in the Registrar’s Office at that time, so I had no promise of income, and Frank usually took home about $40 per week from his construction job with Frazier-Morton, plus the $110 from the G.I. Bill. We needed something very inexpensive, affordable, maybe free. Voila! Frank did some asking around and found that Kell’s Cottage, that deplorable old house was free, except for utilities, to ministerial students. I swallowed my pride because “free” was the important word.

Frank is a fantastic carpenter/builder today, and he had these same talents in 1961. Mr. Frazier generously let him have broken tiles that he used for repairing the hearths in that old house, and the Ministerial Association made it possible for him to get lumber to build kitchen cabinets and the closet in our bedroom and the wall that he built to enclose part of the hall. This enclosure became Wendy’s bedroom after she joined our family. We had the loveliest apartment in Clinton, Mississippi! My dread of Kell’s Cottage changed to a love of a beautiful apartment in an old house that wasn’t deplorable. It had character.

Another thing that I said I’d NEVER do was get married while I was still in college. When I met Frank and fell in love with him, getting married while I was still in college became irrelevant. All of a sudden, beginning a new life before I ended the one that I was enjoying so much became something that I wanted to do. In fact, in November, when I was in the hospital very ill with who knew what, all I could think of was whether or not we’d be able to get married in December. Getting married while I was still in college became the most important thing in the world to me.

And then there was the matter of a school. In the old days before I-10 was built, we used to travel out Hwy 90 to go to Mobile and on to Jackson, where we went to school. We’d pass an old school on our way. My snooty self would say, “I’d NEVER send my child to Beulah School. Surely there’s no real education going on there.” Again, I had to eat my words.

When we moved to Pensacola from Pascagoula, we bought an old house on what was then Detroit Blvd., right in Beulah district. So we bundled Wendy, and later Jay, off to Beulah, where they’d have such wonderful teachers as Janie Taranto, Beverly Gunn, Vera Gainey, and even Mrs. Vickery with the smoker’s breath. Both of them had Eugene Winters as their first principal, and what a wonderful principal he was. He knew every child in the school, where each lived, and who his or her parents were and what they did, meaning what their vocations were. The teachers and Mr. Winters held their feet to the fire and insisted on excellence in classwork and respect for adults. I can’t imagine our children going to any elementary school except Beulah. Those words tasted really good.

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