Thursday, June 23, 2005


(Originally run 1/3/04 on our old site)

Tom Pry

One of the joys of running this site is “meeting” so many people that, for whatever reason, didn’t hit your radar during your school days. Another of the pleasures is finding out things you didn’t know about people you thought you knew well.

For instance, as well as I knew them, I never put Anita Hart and Bobby Scott Fuller together as an “item;” yet, so far as I can tell, they had been as far back as middle school.

I’m still finding out things about Roland King. By all odds, Roland and I should not have been chums since, other than living in the country, we had absolutely nothing in common. He was a jock, I was a bandsman. He was two years ahead of me in school (’54 and ’56) which, as you’ll recall, could be a sizeable gap at that age.

Yet, inexplicably, we were buddies. I quickly learned to dress warmly if I were spending the night at Roland’s. He loved sleeping with both windows in his room open. “Fresh air’s good for you, Tom, it’s healthy!” Somehow, that fresh air translated to Roland wrapped cocoon-like in every damned cover on the bed come morning while you froze.

Roland, I would tell him, pneumonia is NOT healthy.

His friendship was worth that minor glitch, though.

After doing running that piece about his infamous “Midnight Run” at the Commencement of the Class of ’54, I expected a reaction from Mr. King. When it didn’t come, I asked for it. This time, I got it .. plus another piece of the puzzle.

Roland King

I really enjoyed that story that Anita remembered. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. Hitting that fence, rolling around in the drainage ditch, having no idea where I was was really disconcerting. And the thing I was thinking about the whole time was that I was ruining their beautiful, solemn ceremony by rolling around in a ditch. I think I actually was going behind the stands before Billy Barger, Larry James, and others caught me before I ended up no telling where. As I recall, the next year, John Alex McCoy (wrong: he was class of ’56) was the runner, but someone had the good sense to leave a bank of lights on.

I was in a similar situation a few years later when I was really trying to look good. I did, but not the way it was planned. Several years ago when I was doing my first free fall, I went out of the plane and immediately went into a spin, which resulted in my main chute wrapping completely around me and then trailing off my right foot. My first thought was "Aww shoot, this is embarrassing." And believe it or not, that's what I thought, not the other s(tuff). If you have seen professional sky divers slip their main chute, fall a distance and then open their reserve, you know it can be quite exciting to watch, as well as scaring the devil out of people watching. The people on the ground, including my son, Mark, were frozen, watching. I was the first jumper out of the plane, there were five others and they later told me they couldn't figure out why the instructor was leaning almost out of the plane watching me jump. He didn't say a word to them except for the next one to go. They said if he had told them they wouldn't have jumped. That's the reason he didn't tell them.

Fortunately two things happened. First, they train you pretty well on how to go down on a reserve chute if something happens, and second, I finally wound up falling face up to the sky. Since the reserve is on your chest, I popped it right open and made a beautiful jump and landing after giving everyone an unintended show. Some of the old pros, over 3000 jumps, told me that was one of the most beautiful uses of the reserve chute they had seen.

I had to tell Roland, truthfully, that skydiving was not in my bag of personal experiences, since I long ago made a promise to my Mom to NOT climb down out of trees I hadn’t climbed up into.

Roland, incidentally, ended up as a big time computer weenie, and he and his lovely wife, Paulette, live in northern Virginia.


We started this piece with a comment about Anita Hart Fuller. After my history piece about the record/TV wars, she had her own comments:

Tom, loved your article about the radios/record players/tv.

I think this was way before you moved to Searcy, but see if you get any response from classmates who MIGHT remember more details than Bob and I do. We think it was in 1950, and we think we were raising money to go to the Texas State Fair in Dallas and perform in the Cotton Bowl. We sold tickets for some kind of raffle and those who sold the most were rewarded with either a little RCA radio or an RCA 45 record player -- the kind that had to plug into a radio. Bob remembers he chose a radio, I remember Judy Rice got a record player. I didn't win anything.....but so envied Judy her 45 record player.

I bought a portable record player last year that plays the 45s, 33-1/3s and 78s and I still listen to some of my old records. I have "Peter and the Wolf", narrated by Basil Rathbone, and "Rusty in Orchestraville" -- both were used by Margaret Neal, our 6th grade music teacher. She would come around to our respective rooms and teach us music and, oftentimes, would bring her portable record player. As many of MY classmates know, Margaret Neal was the official American Red Cross Poster person in about 1947 and I have one of the posters. I've carried it around and bored most of my classmates showing it and telling how I obtained it.

Anita and her "Margaret Neal" poster Posted by Hello

Now this should be good enough to start us off down memory lane in 2004.......Mildred and Paula (Windsor Thompson): y'all jump in there!


From Don Thompson:

Thanks guys. You made history fun to read. Now why couldn't our world and U.S. history books have been written in such interesting styles?

By the way, I was in Mrs. Moody's 10th grade world history class when we got the word that Bobby Scott Fuller had been stricken with polio. That is one of those etched in stone memories. The words “world history” invoked that memory.

That’s one of the nicest compliments we’ve ever received. As I told Don in my red-faced reply, one of the lessons they DIDN’T teach in the Searcy school system (or in most of the rest, for that matter) is that history is NOT necessarily groups, places, dates … it’s PEOPLE and their reactions to what the devil’s going on around them.

But that’s a rant for another time and place.

Finally, from my partner-in-crime,
Ernie Simpson:

I saw in the Jonesboro Sun this morning a little poem that I thought was appropriate for the New Year, and thought I’d put it down here. Written in 1934, St. Joseph School, Menomonie, Wisconsin.


To leave the old with a burst of song,
To recall the right and forgive the wrong;

To forget the thing that binds you fast,
To the vain regrets of the year that’s past;

To have the strength to let go your hold
Of the not worthwhile of the days grown old,

To dare to go forth with a purpose true,
To the unknown task of the year that’s new;

To help your brother along the road,
To do his work and
lift his load;

To add your gift to the world’s good cheer,
Is to have and to give a Happy New Year.

Ernie adds:

And of 2003, let me say, like ol' Gus McCrae said in Lonesome Dove, "Woodrow, it's been one helluva party".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother was looking through some old photos and we found one of a baby named John Alex McCoy and he was three months old. It was dated January 24, 1939 at Calcutta. My great grand uncle, Charles Thomson and his wife Marian, worked for Texaco and lived in Shanghai, China at this time. I googled John Alex McCoy and this is the only place I could find him. Could this possibly be the John Alex McCoy you know? I would love to send this picture to him if this is the same person.
Bess Garison

10:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home