As published in the White River Current - Thursday January 29, 2015
Two weeks ago, after the newspaper was delivered to the subscribers, I began to receive questions and comments about the Rambling’s column, particularly about the incident when Jay Baker buzzed Calico Rock in his F-86 (?) fighter jet. One of the readers (Gaye) notified me that she was related to Jay through the Matthews family. It seems like one thing always leads to another, particularly when you are sitting at your computer trying to beat the deadline for the next offering of your rambling thoughts. Amazing what the old brain comes up with once you give it the opportunity. Continuing with the thread that I started in the last column, Jay’s grandfather, Seth Matthews, was once the mayor of Calico Rock. One of his granddaughters married Thomas Jones. (Note to self: Self, ask Betty at bible study if Thomas and family still live in the Kansas City area). Seth and family lived in the former VanWinkle house on the southwest corner of the old high school property, near where the present elementary school is located. Mrs. VanWinkle, formerly Bethel Copp (sister of the doctor), was the high school math teacher. She taught me everything that I needed to know about algebra (9th grade) and geometry (10th grade). Perhaps I should mention some of my other teachers, Miss Hattie Croom, of course, was my first grade teacher (kindergarten hadn’t been invented yet). She had been in the school system about forty years when I came along and she taught several more years afterward. Mrs. Wilkerson taught the combined second and third grades. She was a wonderful, kind person. It was a giant leap from the third grade to the fourth grade where the teacher was Mrs. Maye Brumitt. She was the former Maye Evans, youngest daughter of Leonard (Uncle Lynn) Evans, one of the brothers who owned the drug store. She put the fear in us, scaring us with things like six-week tests, etc. Thankfully she was about eight months pregnant and only stayed a few weeks. Very soon after her baby boy was born, she moved to California with her husband, Bud. I don’t recall who the new teacher was. My fifth grade teacher was Leola Perryman, wife of my cousin, Kenneth, who worked with his brother (Wm. Reed) and father (my uncle, J. Elbert) in the family hardware business. Mrs. Tarkington was my sixth grade teacher. Her husband was the high school principal. All six grades were taught in rooms on the first floor of the old two-story school building. By the way, there was no indoor plumbing in the building. School offices and grades 7-12 were located on the building’s upper story which was accessed by two wide staircases. The combination study hall/auditorium occupied about half of the upper story and was used as a classroom, also. There were three other classrooms. The agriculture and home economics buildings were located nearby. The only surviving structure is the home-ec building which is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Teachers in the high school included John Rollo, M. T. Mason, Bethel VanWinkle, Opal Toothaker, Rosa Mae Warren, Fred Bryson, James Bell, Euel Story, Maude Story, Gertrude Houck and probably some I can’t recall. Many of you readers have never heard of any of the above named individuals but each one has in some manner had an influence on my life. Here in the twilight of my life, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes (maybe) things don’t just happen, but occur for a particular reason. Too many things cannot be explained by coincidence. We may not realize it at the time, but looking back we begin to wonder. I will discuss Mrs. Houck and maybe some of the others mentioned in a future article. Today, I want to finish this column with an excerpt from an article that I read recently. It seems the Dalai Lama was resting at a lodge, when a young waitress inquired if she might ask the Dalai Lama a question. With complete seriousness, she spoke “What is the meaning of life?” The Dalai Lama answered, “Easy question. The meaning of life is happiness. Hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big House? Accomplishment? Friends? Or…” He paused. “Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make TRUE happiness?” Wow! I wish I’d said that.