This page last modified on Sunday, May 01, 2005

May Day and Maypole from Century Elementary School in 1947. Do you know the names of any of these girls?

Black Cat Reunion Brings Back Great Memories
Tri-City Ledger Column for 5/5/2005
Jerry Simmons

Last Saturday, the annual Century High School Black Cat reunion and fish fry was held at Carver-Century Middle School. I helped man the ASHS Museums so I didn't get to go.
Much appreciation goes to Gary Beasley who took our newly released "Sawmill Scrapbook, Volume 4" and introduced it to the crowd. We picked up the softcover book from the printer's on Friday, just in time for the reunion crowd to be the first ones to get a chance to look at it. Contact an ASHS member or call 256-3980, 256-2029, or 256-2661 for information how you can get one. It's $15.00 (includes Florida tax), with about 100 pages, color photos throughout, and lots of stories and anecdotes! We're confident you'll enjoy it.

Even though I wasn't at the fish fry I was got to see old classmates. A lot of them came by the Leach House Museum afterward despite the inclement weather. Former football coach Gene Lewis, one of the legends of CHS, came all the way from Arkansas just to be at the reunion. Billy Turner and Charles Sansom were among those in my class that visited. We spent time retelling stories on and about one another - great fun!

The reunion attracts more and more every year.

What may be lost are the good times, the bad times - we'll never be able to recreate them. But the memories of those times won't be lost. It's been said that every experience, every scene you witnessed, every taste, every aroma - the memory is always with you, put away somewhere in the depths of your mind. It simply takes something out of the ordinary to trigger the brain to recall it - and a day like a class reunion day is indeed extraordinary! One recalls many memories when seeing and hugging and talking to old friends and classmates alike. It is definitely special.

Last week, Margaret Collier told of our guests, Martha and Felicia, formerly McDonald. I missed seeing little sister "Cookie," but several years ago Cookie passed away prematurely. Seeing Felicia caused a memory to come back of one of my most embarrassing moments as a youngster.

Read and laugh at the travails of a little kid trying to make the big time in romance at last:

"He kissed me on the ear!" she exclaimed, embarrassing me to no end! It was a seventh grade party at Felicia McDonald's and she was one of the prettiest girls in my class. Felicia and I were classmates since the first grade - even skipped the second grade together, along with others, including Sassy Turberville, Ronnie Wadkins, Elizabeth Stanton... I'm sure there were more, but right now I'll focus on Felicia.

I was very likely the shyest boy in the class. I was the next to youngest and intimidated by such boisterous guys as Andy Lewis. Andy was smart, and very popular, if only for his wit and aggressiveness. He wasn't a bully; he just didn't let fine points get in his way!

I think I fell in "love" with Felicia in the first grade - that's when I have my first recollection of the dark-haired beauty. As luck had it, I got to sit next to her in the third grade. This is the first time I got into trouble because of a female. It started then and it's lasted the rest of my life (so far)!

She'd erased her paper and left eraser detritus ("dust") all over it. I wanted to make a good impression on her and show her how ready to lend a hand I could be, so I kindly blew the eraser "dust" off her paper (I think she dared me).

Apparently she really didn't want it blown off, because she immediately called Mrs. Wadkins over and complained about me. Mrs. Wadkins took the side of the helpless little girl and reprimanded me. After that I learned to love Felicia from afar! That is, until the night of the aforementioned party.

The game must have been Post Office - there was a small room next to the living room at Felicia's home. Somehow a girl got a boy in the darkened room, and then that girl left the room and the boy called a girl in. Then the cycle started over. You get the idea.

I watched this carefully and decided that once the two were in the room together, alone, in the dark, the boy was supposed to sneak a kiss. It became Felicia's time to be in the room and it was my turn to be called.

The rest is a little foggy, because I was scared stiff to be there and had no idea what to do next. Working this out as I went, I leaned over to her hastily and awkwardly. Pursing my lips, I smacked her on what I thought was her left cheek. She instantly (it seemed) opened the door and pointing to her ear, shouted, "He kissed me on the ear!"

I was mortified.

Shaking like a leaf, I had already brought myself near the edge of hysteria in order to overcome my bashfulness and fulfill my adolescent dream of getting close to Felicia. That was so I could accomplish the noble deed, and then I felt disgraced when she announced to the group I had "kissed her on the ear!" A roar of laughter emanated from those gathered there.

I'd come nowhere close to her cheek - it was her EAR I kissed!

The throes of going through adolescence! What a difference from then to today, huh?

That's one of my fondest memories - especially because Felicia is one of my favorite people, and she is part of that memory. I love Felicia to this day as a dear, dear friend. Although even today, I don't know with certainty the rules for Post Office.

Anyone up for a teaching job?