A friend from childhood recently invited me to a Facebook page called “Memories of Eufaula.” Although I grew up in Russell County, I, along with other county friends, attended school in Eufaula, so we made plenty of memories there, too.
Looking at posts and old photos of Eufaula has stirred some nostalgic recollections of Braswell’s Store on the bluff where I collected an entire set of Beatle bubblegum cards, the Martin Theatre where my cousin Frankie and I saw a movie almost every Sunday, and the Rexall drugstore where I first experienced Jungle Gardenia perfume. I also have an abundance of memories about teachers and other characters that made lasting impressions.
Mrs. Jennings is a good example. She taught my mama Home Economics in the 1940s, and in 1968 she was my teacher, too. Shorn wild white hair and sparkling eyes made her quite striking, but the stockings bagging around her thin ankles were what I initially noticed about her on my first day of Home Ec. By the time I took her classes, her husband, whom she adored, had died, and her son Frank was the apple of those bright eyes. Frank was several years older than I, but I had an adolescent crush on him, especially after he formed a band and grew his hair like a British rock star.
In Home Ec. class, I tended to scorch the bottoms of cookies. When the class had to make aprons, the sashes fell off of mine when I tied them. Mrs. Jennings had to put the zipper in my dress for me when we all made a sheath from a Simplicity Easy-to-Sew pattern. But she liked me anyway, probably because I had that silly crush on her handsome son who hardly knew I existed on the planet (but was sweet enough to speak when I passed him in the hall and mustered the nerve to say, “Hi, Frank” and blush). I did get in trouble with Mrs. Jennings, though, when she spotted the paperback of Peyton Place I had brought to school to read on the bus. She deemed the book “trashy” and took it up until the end of the day. My punishment was solitary confinement in the ironing board room. She called it “separating the wolf from the lambs.” Perhaps that was the day I became an advocate for wolves.
The following school year, county children were barred from attending city schools. After that, I stopped a couple of times and spoke to Mrs. Jennings if I saw her in her yard. Eventually, I lost touch with her, but I never forgot her.
The last I knew of Frank, he had graduated and gone away to Hollywood, where he got a job with “The Dating Game.” Recently, out of curiosity, I searched his name on the Internet and found that he lists his occupation as actor. British author Alexandra Potter says that we are the sum total of our memories. I agree, and I treasure mine.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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