March 08 '08
Volume 614


Class Rings Education Imagery

As far back as I can remember I’ve esteemed class rings, whether they were high school rings or college rings. Perhaps, it was the influence of my uncles, Earl Carter and Lamar Carter, who each held college degrees at a time when symbols of educational achievement in the Carter family were rare, that birthed my admiration for class rings.

Neither of my Carter grandparents finished high school. Hayden Carter’s father died when Hayden was perhaps seven or eight, so he was needed to help with the family’s livelihood, farming. Hayden’s formal education probably ended before the fifth grade. My grandmother’s father died at age fifty. Becky may have completed the seventh or eighth grade before she also had to drop out of school to help work the family farm.

My dad didn’t graduate high school, though he doubtless would have had he not, in his senior year, had a falling out with a teacher, who wouldn’t accept a paper he’d written as his work. My grandfather thought he could convince Dad to return to school by working him extra hard on the family farm. Dad admitted the next several weeks were the hardest of his life, but his determination to spite the teacher prevailed. If Dad ever regretted his decision to drop out of school, he never shared it with me.

Mom had dropped out of school even earlier than Dad and didn’t finish the eighth grade. Instead at sixteen, she and Dad married. The following year, my older brother was born and over the next twenty years three more children arrived, with each of us finding slightly better living conditions than our sibling predecessor. None of us experienced anything like a childhood lived in affluence, but we were loved and cared for and given the best our parents could afford.

In my youth, there were more opportunities for me to be around my Uncle Earl than Dad’s younger brother, Lamar. Uncle Earl had settled in Senatobia, MS, but Uncle Lamar found work in Venezuela more to his liking. Since leaving Venezuela, Uncle Lamar has made New York City his home, where consulting has provided him opportunities to "see the world." So, when it came to seeing class rings in my family, I saw Uncle Earl’s more than Uncle Lamar’s

Having so few family members with class rings made the arrival of my high school ring a memorable occasion. How I talked my Dad out of the thirty-five dollars that was needed to purchase the ring, I no longer remember, but in 1959, thirty-five dollars was a lot of money.

Traditionally, Pontotoc High School had used the Balfour Co. as the chosen provider of its graduation rings and jewelry. And, traditionally, the letter P was set into the stone or stone-like material atop the ring. The year of my graduating class, we chose the then unique feature of placing the ‘P’ inside the material after a "shadow-box" fashion.

Approximately five years later, I ordered my college ring from the same company. I don’t remember if I was a college senior or junior, though I suspect I was a senior and probably needed the assurance I would graduate in 1965 before plopping down the sixty-three dollars required to buy the ring.

College rings, I discovered, were customizable; one could choose the color of the "stone." I chose red, but over the years a lot of folks have confused the deep red with maroon and asked if I were a Mississippi State graduate, giving me reason to second guess my choice of colors. Additional customization came in the letters representing ones degree. In my case, BS represents my Bachelor of Science degree.

As viewed by an observer, BS is on the left side of the ring and 65, the year I graduated, is on the right side. I’ve always worn my college ring on my right hand. Whether tradition still holds or not, I don’t know, but I was told that I should wear my ring backwards as an undergraduate in order to see the degree I was striving to attain. After graduation, the ring was reversed to "right-side up," in order for me to see the year of graduation.

As a math teacher, I wore my college ring daily. I am proud of my alma mater, The University of Mississippi, and I was always happy to recommend Ole Miss to students interested in attending a university after high school.

Early in my teaching career, I jammed the knuckle of my ring finger on my right hand. While the swelling eventually receded, my knuckle was permanently enlarged. I had to have my ring enlarged to slip it past the knuckle. The resizing was done by a jeweler in Ripley, MS. While the ring fit well enough and looked fine on my finger, I regretted the work had obliterated a part of the engraving of my name inside the band. Wayne L. was still legible, as was Car, but the rest was gone.

When I worked in the meat department of a supermarket, I was unable to wear my college ring because it had a tendency to cling to the meat film used in wrapping meats packaged in the store. The places I worked usually had a designated meat wrapper, but there were times throughout the day that I also performed this function. I found it easier to not wear my college ring while working with meat than to have to remove it multiple times during the typical day.

After becoming a Meat Field Specialist in 1982, I had greater opportunity to wear my college ring on a daily basis. More wearing meant more wear and tear. In time, the resizing weld showed signs of fissure. Miraculously, the ring held together a good ten years or more after I first noticed the break in the weld.

In the early nineties, I received an advertisement for an Alumni Signet Ring. The allure proved too much for my threshold of resistance, and I soon ordered it. I wear it on the ring finger of my left hand. So, if we ever go back to the days of letter writing and sealing envelopes with wax, I’ll get full utilization from my signet ring. Meanwhile it serves as a conversation piece for keen eyed observers.

Last year, after Barbara’s journey necklace was lost for a brief period, she had a local jeweler add a larger link so the pendant and chain could not slip apart. She asked me to pick it up when it was repaired. In doing so, I asked the proprietor about repairing my college ring. He looked at it and said he’d be glad to repair it, but that I should first check with Balfour as the ring had a lifetime warranty. I went online and found I could return the ring for repair as cheaply as $14.95, provided I had not violated the conditions of the warranty. I printed off a form to use in returning the ring but didn’t act right away.

In January, this year, I dropped my college ring and in picking it off the floor observed the 3 millimeter section of gold comprising the expansion joint was loose and being held in place by friction. I put it in a Ziploc bag for safe keeping and decided it was time to fill out the Balfour repair form.

To be continued…


Blue House Carter Family Memory

There’s a housing project underway on acreage near the stomping grounds of my childhood friends Tony Austin, Jimmy Rackley, and myself. A portion of the dirt work is visible at the corner of Reynolds and Dowdy (Railroad Ave.). Much of the area has been covered with small trees and vines and provided something of a privacy screen for the backyards of homes on the west side of North Columbia Street.

I don’t mind seeing the landscape being molded into lots for small-footprint housing as I had no sentimental attachment to the land. However, I’m sure to miss a house that was demolished in the process.

I’m not sure the demolished house was originally constructed as a house or if it may have started its life as an office. I remember it went up rather hastily, and esthetically it never rated much above shabby. It wasn’t even a bricked house. The builder had covered the exterior walls with something having the appearance of 4x8 plywood sheets with vertical strips hiding the seams. The last time it was painted, someone chose country blue for the outside color.

There’s little left of the house in the picture I took recently, but I made sure the photo had a bit of blue siding in it. The pile of rubble will probably be hauled away pretty soon, and the current remnants of the blue house will become fodder for a landfill or possibly fill for a future building site.

My regret in the loss of the blue house is I won’t be able to show it to my grandchildren and recall the time Rayanne and I walked in on a family having supper in the blue house. I believe I’ve related the following in a previous newsletter, but I’ve been unable to locate it.

One Christmas season after Rayanne and Ashley Butler married, Rayanne asked me to go with her to select a recliner for Ashley. Our destination was the blue house, but it wasn’t blue then.

It was almost dark, and there were no recliners out front, but there had been several on display a week or so earlier. Rayanne had seen them, as had I. Confident we were at a retail business, I opened the front door without knocking, and we walked in together.

Something didn’t look right. There were no recliners in the room, but there was a couch and chair and a TV. At first we didn’t see anyone, but as we moved toward the middle of the room, we saw three or four people eating around a kitchen table.

They looked a little startled when we asked if they had any recliners left to sell. By the time they figured out we weren’t there to do them any harm, we figured out we were inside somebody’s home, not a business. We apologized for our intrusion and hurriedly left.

Each year as Christmas nears, I’m reminded of our ‘recliner story,’ and as the story is retold in our family midst boisterous laughter, I’d like to believe that there’s another family living somewhere that also pauses at Christmastime to remember the night a man and his daughter burst into their living room asking to buy a recliner.


Bodock Beau Political Respite...Mostly

In an election year, a little humor is a refreshing respite from the liberal media’s love affair with the Democrat candidates for President.

Concerning Children

1. You spend the first two years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.

2. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children.

3. Mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.

4. Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

5. The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.

6. We childproofed our homes, but they are still getting in.

7. If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: "Take two aspirin" and "keep away from children!"

Received from Kim Goslin

Boudreaux’s Conversion

Each Friday night after work, Boudreaux would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a venison steak. But, all of Boudreaux's neighbors were Catholic, and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Friday.

The delicious aroma from the grilled venison steaks was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest.

The Priest came to visit Boudreaux, and suggested that he become a Catholic.

After several classes and much study, Boudreaux attended Mass, and as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, he said, "You were born a Baptist, and raised a Baptist, but now you are a Catholic." 

Boudreaux's neighbors were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison filled the neighborhood.  The Priest was called immediately by the neighbors, and, as he rushed into Boudreaux's yard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement.

There stood Boudreaux, clutching a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over thegrilling meat and chanted: "You wuz born a deer, you wuz raised a deer, but now you is a catfish."

Contributed by Ed Dandridge

How To Train A Cat

Our young daughter had adopted a stray cat. To my distress, he began to use the back of our new sofa as a scratching post. "Don't worry," my husband reassured me. "I'll have him trained in no time."

I watched for several days as my husband patiently "trained" our new pet. Whenever the cat scratched, my husband deposited him outdoors to teach him a lesson.

The cat learned quickly. For the next 16 years, whenever he wanted to go outside, he scratched the back of the sofa.

Shared by Larry Young

"These Clintons are like cockroaches. They’ll be the last thing left after a nuclear blast." —Rush Limbaugh

"’Change’ is the season’s mantra for the star-struck masses. Obama’s latest slogan is ‘Change to believe in.’ But how do you ‘believe’ in ‘change’? Change, after all, is process. ‘Change to what?’ Barack Obama does not say, the genius of the promise. Everyone gets to fill in the blank now, and be disappointed later." —Wesley Pruden

It looks like John McCain has clinched the Republican nomination. He was very excited when they woke him up to tell him." —Craig Ferguson

Source Patriot Post Vol. 8 No. 10


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