My children have asked me repeatedly to write names, dates and places on the back of our family pictures. That is what I am endeavoring to do. But it is taking a lot of time.
There are early childhood pictures. I had not thought about our goat, Billy, for decades. He pulled us around the yard in a small wagon. My sister, brother and I, plus a few cousins, would take turns climbing into the wagon for a ride. It was a safe thing to do until it rained. Billy did not like to get wet.
When the rain started, Billy started running. The back part under the house where we lived was not underpinned. We learned early to duck when Billy ran under it.
Naturally, there are many pictures of elementary school, high school and college years. Having taught for 20 years, I have quite a collection of pictures of former students, too. Regretfully, in some cases I have waited too long to write the names on a few of them.
A picture of one high school classmate reminds me of a bad Halloween trick that went awry. A very grumpy man lived in a nearby town. He was the target of many Halloween pranks. One year he decided he had had enough.
While several high school boys were taking the chairs off his porch, they were not aware that he was waiting for them. The man came out the door with a gun filled with birdshot. One of the boys took a few in the rear. My mother was the nurse at the local doctor's office at the time. She laughed for years remembering when the boy's mother brought him to the office the next morning, and she picked the birdshot out of his fanny. He did not come back to school for several days.
One of the things I lingered over recently is an obituary for Willie "Do Right" Copeland. I had not thought of "Do Right" in years. We were about the same age. It was during the days of segregated schools, so I did not see him except when we would drive by his house. He and his family lived up the road from us on Gaissert Road a few miles out of Sparta. Until he died, I had never known his real name. Even the obituary called him "Do Right." As far as I know, "Do Right" always did do right.
A more recent favorite is a picture of my son, John, his now wife, Millie, and me. We are in a city bus in Athens. John is wearing his red graduation cap and robe. Millie and I had gone to Athens for John's graduation from UGA. While searching around the stadium for a parking place, I followed some cars turning into a cemetery. A sign clearly said, "No Parking." But others were parking there. A nearby policeman made no effort to stop them. So, I parked there, too.
When graduation was over, my car was gone. Every car, at least 50 of them, that had been parked in the cemetery had been towed. The policeman we had seen earlier was giving out directions telling drivers how to retrieve their vehicles. It was a hot day in Athens, and we were on foot. When a city bus came by, John, Millie and I climbed on. After riding back to John's apartment, we got his car and went to bail mine out.
Looking at pictures of your children as babies especially takes time. It reminds us of their innocence. We smile as we remember their chocolate-covered faces at birthday parties, wearing their mom's or dad's shoes or even in their birthday suits.
Sometimes in our lives we unknowingly wander into dangerous situations. Such was the case probably 20 years ago with my friend Byron and me. The Chamber of Commerce was having a costume party. We went dressed as Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Byron was in a white jumpsuit with a guitar, and I was wearing a poodle skirt.
On the way to the party, we decided to stop to see Doug and Joy Mabry in Kennesaw. We knew they would get a laugh seeing us in that garb. I assured Byron I knew exactly where they lived. I was wrong. We stopped at a neighbor's house. The man who came to the door appeared frightened. He did not think it was amusing finding Elvis and Priscilla on his front porch.
We got out of there in a hurry. Someone at the party took pictures of the costumed guests. I remember that whenever I see that picture. I continue to be thankful that the man did not call the police or shoot at us.
My favorite Christmas picture is a family picture made by local photographer Bob Lipscomb. The picture was made for our Christmas cards. Joe and I had decided he would be Santa in the picture. I had borrowed a Santa suit complete with wig and beard for him. Like Santa, Cindy, Joel, John and I were dressed in seasonal red. I had explained to our older children, Cindy and Joel, their dad would be pretending to be Santa. John was only 1 year old.
After positioning us as he wanted us, Bob said something to Joe. Joe replied. That was when John realized it was his dad in that getup. John was determined to find him. The result was a picture where Santa's beard was twisted in John's hands. Santa's hat was disheveled and the pillow inside the suit had shifted to one side of Joe's body. Santa was totally bedraggled.
We used that picture on our Christmas cards anyway. After all, Santa and his helpers are bedraggled on Christmas morning.
While we do need to write names, dates and places on our pictures, we usually do not need to tell the story behind most of them. As we have often heard, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska and a former county school superintendent.