June 22, 1996
There's nothing like a high school class reunion to bring a body crashing back to reality. It's amazing how many forgotten truths emerge at these periodic gatherings when mature adults sit around reminiscing about the days of their lost childhood. That's what makes a reunion so interesting. Take away the receding hairlines and expanding waistlines and just listen to the voices of those classmates. You'll find the present images begin to fade away and you can picture your teenage self years ago seated at one of those desks in the halls of dear old Perry High, struggling to pay attention while wisdom is being disseminated by the teacher. For a moment or two, we're young once again.
My gang, the class of 1941 at PHS, got together the other day to celebrate the 55th anniversary of our commencement. You probably have not heard that the class of '41 is considered to be one of the most outstanding collections of graduates yet produced by the local school system. That was our own appraisal, and we still lay claim to it, despite protests from every class before and since that year.
There were 88 of us and we had some of the prettiest girls, greatest scholars, best athletes and most ornery boys ever assembled in a single class anywhere. Most important, though, we truly liked each other and that fact has endured for more than a half-century. Hugs, handshakes and the exchange of anecdotes occupy most of our reunions, along with a few damp eyes as we remember good friends who are no longer with us.
Amazing tales emerge from these reunions. For example: Our English and public speaking teacher, Elizabeth Green Rogers, disclosed for the first time that she was always aware of a little service I provided, ghost writing book reports and themes for classmates who had neither the time nor inclination to do them. She said the tip off was when I appeared at her desk each morning after those assignments were turned in. I was checking on the grades she gave us because my prices were based on a sliding scale. An "A" was worth 35 cents, a "B" was 25 cents, and a "C," which took only a few minutes to prepare, was 15 cents. This was a profitable sideline for a few semesters and I had no idea Miss Green (now Mrs. Rogers) knew what was going on.
Yes, I know now it was very wrong to do that, and I do not recommend that anyone else take up the practice. At the time I just considered it to be a service I could provide for my classmates. They never asked me to help with subjects like algebra and geometry, though.
Mary Bell Adkins, who died this week at the age of 80, was a spunky little lady who took a personal interest in the Perry families and businesses she served for several decades. She reared a daughter and four sons, supporting the family largely by doing household work or custodial chores at several locations. For 40 years she was the chief floor care person in the sprawling office complex of the Charles Machine Works, Inc. If a Ditch Witch employee spilled a cup of coffee or anything else on one of her floors, he or she could expect a stern reprimand from Mary Bell, no matter what their executive level might be. Knowing that, most of them went to some lengths to mop up their own mess before she arrived on the scene. She was a dear little lady who will be missed in our community.
Bill Sheets has about completed the demolition of a two-story building next to his Perry Plumbing Co. on Cedar street. The old place had housed several businesses, mostly auto repair services, plus upstairs apartments, for many years, but time had taken a heavy toll on the building. Clearing it away has improved the looks of the immediate area.