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One-Minute Scenes

June 19, 2015

Today the son of a couple who went to school with me posted his parents’ wedding picture in honor of their anniversary. His mother Sally died of cancer a few years ago, but I have kept my friendship with his father Mark. I had always thought we all three graduated the same day, since I remembered our conversation at graduation practice.  Facebook comments cleared the account.  McClanahan’s observations about her three-legged dog came to mind in regard to the way our memories shift and reform.  Here are just a few little scenes I started playing with today:

My college graduation:

In my room in Elam Hall, as I was getting ready to line up for graduation, donning the hot black polyester gown, holding the cap and bobby pins to hold it atop my head, the girls at the desk called over the intercom to tell me I had a phone call at the pay phone bank downstairs.  It was Jack, someone with whom I had spent the previous evening after breaking up (his choice, not mine) a few months before.

I had run into him–or more literally, he had almost run over me–as I had crossed Granny White Pike to buy a Sunday Nashville Tennessean the week before and he had called as if he hadn’t pulled the previous disappearing act. We’d had a good time, without mentioning the past. I had good feelings about getting back together. Then he called and said, “I just don’t think this is going to work.”

He had said he’d be glad to meet my folks for the first time.  I guess he wasn’t. He never did.

Before time to get ready, I rode to 100 Oaks Mall with my parents. My little sister Jeannie, ten at the time, decided to talk Mama and Daddy into buying her  a big hanging wicker chair (which meant that some of my dorm room items had to be left behind–a walnut stained bookcase my uncle Robert had made for my dad in high school shop class and a set of Colliers Encyclopedias. I never saw them again.)  

The whole time they poked around the mall, I  worried because I planned to wash and blow dry my hair–still in something of a shag haircut–before graduation. When we got to the mall parking lot in the late August heat, wagging the huge chair, Daddy’s Cadillac had a flat tire.  I knew then I’d graduate without freshly washed hair.

I hardly remember anything about graduation, except that I sat near Sally Clower Crosslin. I always misremembered her brand-new husband Mark having been there too, but I learned today that he graduated a year later. He must have been there at practice the day before to keep her company, since they’d been married barely a month at the time.  I mostly remember that I sobbed through the whole graduation ceremony.  

Since the Alumni Auditorium was being remodeled (I still have my chapel seat wooden arm I stole at the end of the summer quarter), the school had planned to hold graduation in the Granny White Church auditorium, adjoining the campus, but we had raised a ruckus and convinced the administrators to let us have graduation outdoors.  Nothing says “Brilliant” like asking to sit outside in metal folding chairs in August in Middle Tennessee.

Although most people in the audience that day managed to uphold decorum, there were shouts as some graduates crossed the stage for diplomas, especially those who made it through by the skin of their teeth or those who had stories of their own.  Gary Y., for example, had been enrolled there for years. We knew he was at least thirty, and girls who had gone out with him enough to know revealed that he wore dentures. When I crossed toward Willard Collins as my name was called, I heard one lone voice cheering in the audience, which I later discovered came from another ex-boyfriend who’d showed up for the occasion.

Even though I had halfway thought I’d stay over in Nashville for a few days with Susan, my old roommate, expecting to see where the newly rekindled feelings took us.  Devastated, I decided to leave that night, with Amy driving my car. I thought the world had ended. The next morning, my sister convinced me to visit the church she was attending instead of going out in the country to the little church where Daddy was preaching.  Good thing I did.  My future husband sat a few rows ahead of me in the Young Adult and College Sunday school class.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. sandyyoung75 permalink
    June 19, 2015 10:54 pm

    I’m having a fuzzy memory from when we lived in Mobile. What I’m remembering is that Mother and I used to walk to church every Sunday morning. It wasn’t a long walk, and what I remember best is walking past Little Flower Catholic Church.

    I could smell the churchyard well before we got there. Roses! What a lovely scent! And as we got to the churchyard, there they were . . . the most beautiful flowers in the world. All colors – pink, red, yellow. And since I loved flowers (remember my favorite seat in our backyard among the pansies and sweet peas?), I would always pick a rose. Don’t know how I managed the thorns. All I remember is that I picked a flower every Sunday morning and took it to my Sunday School teacher.

    Every time I plucked, Mother would warn me, “Someday the priest is going to catch you picking his roses, and you’re going to be in big trouble!” And still I picked.

    One Sunday morning, the priest, dressed all in black with a white collar and a bit scary looking, was right there, watching me pick a rose. My mother apologized as I stood speechless thinking about what the man would do to me.

    “That’s just fine, little girl, I don’t mind if you pick my roses. That’s what they’re here for.”

    What a relief! And how much more I enjoyed picking roses, now that I knew I wouldn’t get in trouble.

    I have often wondered if I had the Catholic Church in the right place, so near our church, and I’ve even wondered if I’m remembering the names of the churches correctly.

    Since my memory from way back when isn’t too good these days, what do I do when I can’t remember things? I do what any 75-year-old lady would do . . . I Google! And Google I did. I found that my memory is spot on as far as locations of churches in Mobile, Alabama, in 1944.

    I found that West End Baptist Church, our destination every Sunday morning is just a couple of blocks from Crenshaw Street, where our apartment house was located. I Googled Little Flower Catholic Church and found that it’s located between our street and our church. What a relief! My memory hasn’t completely disappeared into Old Timer’s Disease!

  2. June 19, 2015 11:23 pm

    It’s nice to be able to preempt the fact checkers,isn’t it? While Amy was in town, she repeated a couple of family stories (about my kids) and her facts didn’t line up with mine.

    • sandyyoung75 permalink
      June 20, 2015 1:57 pm

      Wendy and I remember lots of things differently! Hers are probably more nearly correct, but I usually go with mine, anyway.

  3. June 20, 2015 9:08 pm

    If she likes, Wendy can write her own version, right? I’m having fun making a time line with accompanying soundtrack (or playlist) of songs from each year. They aren’t necessarily favorite songs, but the ones that evoke that time most vividly. I’ll share later.

    • sandyyoung75 permalink
      June 21, 2015 12:22 am

      She probably wouldn’t do this. Actually, she just corrects me when I get something wrong, and that’s OK . . . not in my writing. Just when we’re telling stories. I’d LOVE to see/hear your project!!

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