May 17 '08
Volume 624

The Graduate Son Seventeen Years

Jason Lamar Carter came into this world on July 16, 1973, during an economic downturn much worse (my opinion) than what the U.S. is currently experiencing. I’ve often told him the reason we have so many videos and pictures of his sister and comparatively fewer of him is a reflection of his family’s dire financial straits and not that his parents found him less cute, less photogenic, or less lovable than his sibling. Yet, until he starts raising his own family, I doubt he’ll ever accept my explanation.

At eight pounds eleven ounces, he was a hunk compared to his sister who weighed-in at barely more than six pounds. By the time he was two he was wearing clothes sized for a four-year old. During the next couple of years there was much speculation he would become a fullback for the football team of some lucky university. Sadly, before he began his ‘schooling’ his appetite for all foods diminished greatly, to the point he became such a finicky eater that he slimmed down more rapidly than his dad’s dreams of son’s gridiron greatness.

Jason never played a down of high school or college football. It wasn’t that he didn’t have athletic ability, but he had become disinterested in playing football by the time he was old enough to play at the varsity level. His mother and I refused to allow him to participate in pee-wee football, believing organized sports would be best suited for teen participation rather than small children.

Having been a teacher and having seen the stress experienced by many of my students whose parents demanded high marks of their children, I vowed that I would never "stand over" my own children and make them do their homework. My approach was to encourage them to do their best work and assure it was their work, not mine or the work of someone else. I won’t say I failed this aspect of parenting, I’ll simply remark the results were mixed.

Most parents with more than one child understand the expression, "They’re as different as daylight and dark."

I’ve found this to be true with my two children, but I’m sure the differences are not as drastic now as they were in their formative years. My daughter was largely self-motivated when it came to her education and was far more driven to please her parents than was her brother. Rayanne worked hard for good grades; Jason did not. In this respect, Jason is a lot like his daddy. For good grades, I depended more on what I garnered in the classroom as opposed to homework assignments. I settled for B’s when a little extra effort would have produced A’s.

Approximately one week ago, Jason graduated from Itawamba Community College. I told someone that it took him seventeen years to graduate from high school and another seventeen years to complete junior college. Yeah, it’s not politically correct to refer to a community college as "junior college," but I hold a degree from Northwest Junior College, Senatobia, Mississippi that dates from the era of junior and senior colleges. Truly, he’s not been enrolled in college for the past seventeen years, but completing his degree, Associate of Applied Science, took seventeen years.

I had about as soon to be horse-whipped as attend a modern graduation ceremony where parents, relatives, and friends whoop and holler when one of "theirs" steps forward to receive his or her diploma. For their boorish behavior, I call them rednecks, but there are roughnecks, "blacknecks" and "hispannecks" that do likewise.

Of the graduations I have attended over the past few decades none were as orderly as the graduation ceremony of Itawamba Community College’s Class of 2008. Itawamba has a written policy stating that persons who disrupt the ceremony will be escorted from the arena. The policy is stated on the program handouts and announced at the beginning of the ceremonies. And, they back up the policy with enough security personnel to physically remove any and all offenders. I’m convinced all schools and institutions of higher learning could and should follow Itawamba’s example of giving each graduate the honor he or she deserves.

Barbara, Sarah, and I arrived at Davis Event Center on the Itawamba campus and were in our seats by six o’clock for the seven p.m. ceremony. We would be joined by Rayanne, Anson, Merilese, and Katherine shortly before seven o’clock. A near capacity crowd was on hand to observe the graduation of approximately four hundred students. Jason was among the last hundred students to take his seat on the main floor before waiting his turn to receive his diploma. The pictures I made of him marching in are blurry, due to my not having a tripod to steady a zoom-shot. However, the video of him walking across the stage to receive his diploma is decent, and the family pictures, made afterwards, were also good.

As graduations go, Jason’s was long. Yet, those who spoke were kind in keeping their remarks brief. The giving of the diplomas to the graduates took about as much time as the combined speeches and recognitions. Fortunately, the arena seats were comfortable and I had enough leg room to suit my needs.

Thanks to "text messaging" on cell phones (can’t believe I’m writing this) Anson was able to let Jason know we needed to get some family pictures made after the graduation ceremonies. Jason responded with a specified location for us to meet him. It actually took much less time for us to get together than I anticipated. We made a handful of pictures and then left in search of a place to eat. I had not eaten since breakfast and was in grave danger of wasting away.

I’ve discovered that periods of great stress and high energy tend to suppress my appetite. It had been a stressful day, much of which I spent helping my wife with her brother, Gene Crouch, who was undergoing tests at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, and then there was the rush to get to the graduation. Once inside the arena, the excitement of knowing my son was receiving a diploma kept me energized until it was time to leave.

The next day Jason remarked that he appreciated our attending his graduation. My response was simply, "I wouldn’t have missed it for anything."

Jason expects to continue working at McCoy’s Grocery as a part-time meat cutter. He plans to enroll at the University of Mississippi this fall. He further expects to complete a bachelor’s degree in less than seventeen years.

Pollards Place Just Off The Square

Apart from suburbanites, there are basically two types of people, those who like to live in the city and those who like to live in the country. I happen to be numbered among the former group, but only if I may be allowed to substitute town for city. I currently live less than a mile from downtown Pontotoc, and as I remember the various places I’ve lived since childhood, most have been a mile or less from a downtown area. I’ve only visited the country, but having done so, I found the nights too dark for my liking.

My niece, Felicia, doesn’t like living in the country either, so when it came about that she and her husband, Cullen Pollard, decided to relocate from Oxford to Pontotoc, her stipulation was something along the lines of "I’m not living in a house that’s more than three blocks from Main Street."

Surprisingly, there were a number of houses for sale that met Felicia’s limiting criterion as a realtor begin showing homes around Pontotoc to her and Cullen. Their final choice is practically on Main Street and less than a block from the Court Square. The Courthouse, Town Square Post Office Museum, and First Baptist Church can all be viewed from the front porch. Maybe it was prophetic on the part of the individual who nicknamed Felicia "Downtown" when she was a student at Ole Miss, as it certainly seems to now apply.

As Felicia and Cullen were considering purchasing the house, Barbara and I mistakenly referred to it as the Grady Cook house. Billy Montgomery, retired pharmacist, corrected me, stating it was the Byron Furr house.

"Yeah, when I was working at Furr Drug years ago, there wasn’t a bathroom in the store. We had to walk next door to Byron’s house," he stated, adding, "You tell Felicia I want to see inside the house before she moves in."

As it turned out, Billy was able to do just that. The Pollards took possession of the house Friday afternoon and began moving the next day. Billy dropped by Saturday afternoon, shortly after the first load of furnishings had been unloaded (good timing on his part).

Felicia and Cullen have plans to make home improvements, starting with the kitchen, where new cabinets and counters will be the first order of business. Other rooms may soon be refreshed with a change of wall color.

Pollards Place has an outbuilding which Cullen has deemed suitable for a workshop. Felicia has appointed her mother the task of improving the flowerbeds. Cullen’s parents are helping with the improvements to the kitchen. While I fear it may soon change, I like my assignment best of all – standing back and watching.

Bodock Beau Do You Remember When

If you can remember when the following were true, both of us are older than we care to admit.

  • We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.
  • Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.
  • We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.  
  • Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.  
  • Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started. 
  • 'Made in Japan ' on it, it was junk  
  • The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.  
  • Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of.
  • We had 5 &10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Shared by Gene Crouch


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