Among highlights for Macedonia alum: old school day pictures
The weekend of programs surrounding the unveiling of the historical monument at the Macedonia Rosenwald School site had its lighter moments along with solemn remembrances of the Panola citizens who brought the school to fruition in 1925 and kept it going for almost 40 years.
There was the pot-bellied stove, a fixture in all rural schools of the time, usually situated in the middle of the classroom.
“All the parents of the children had to bring wood,” John Morris said Thursday night during the reception in the Batesville library. “Parents who didn’t bring it, their children had to sit farthest from the heater,” he added, prompting chuckles in agreement from other Macedonia Rosenwald alums who attended.
Mounted on posters lining one side of the library’s large meeting room were photos of many of the young people who had once been students there, and when the reception program ended, everyone in the room took turns going over the photos — old school day photos enlarged. Old photos are like that for those of us of a certain age. They fascinate us.
They were initially without names but handily placed sticky notes allowed reception guests to write the names of those they recognized and place them under the photos. The reception crowd quickly got into the spirit of if. By now, most of those photos have been identified and they will remain on display at the library through September 29.
“I’ll show you a boy that got a whipping every day at school,” said George McDaniel, who , along with his brother, Ralph McDaniel,was thoroughly enjoying remembering names as they looked at the photos.
George McDaniel led me to a guy who introduced himself as Joe Lambert.
“He said you got a whipping every day at school,” I said to Lambert.
“Yea, and he got me into it,” Lambert replied, gesturing to McDaniel. “Every time I’d cuss, he’d tell the teacher and I’d get a whipping. And he’s the one who would make me cuss!”
Then Lambert asked me if I had worked for Mr. Jacobs buying okra back in the 1960s. I said yes, and he told me that he remembered working with me there at what was then the Northwest Mississippi Livestock Showbarn near the Hwy. 6/51 intersection. I stood and thought a few minutes. The memories of that summer over 50 years ago started slowly coalescing.
I left the reception having learned more about our county, its history and the racial divide that we have always struggled with. I was also grateful for having been remembered so kindly by a former co-worker whom I did not remember until his remark triggered it.
Don’t forget, the photos will remain on display in the library until Friday, Sept. 29. By then I bet there will be few left unidentified.