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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A eulogy, Tribute to my 8th grade Teacher Frances Clary

  Over the holidays my friend Danny Parker died as you see in the Johnny Dawkins memory on this blog. Last summer Mike Francis who was in my 8th grade class  with Mrs Clary right before lunch,  died. The summer of 67  Mike Francis, Tommy Jones, Cleve Hamrick and myself took a 7 hour bus ride from Spartanburg, S.C. to Camp Ney Ah Ti on the banks of the Guntersville lake about 12 miles below Scottsboro.
    The last day  of my 8th grade year before the trip to Alabama for camp, I got out of school early; midday to ride with the family to Miami Florida where I saw a movie star in a TV Private series, Billy Graham and W.A. Criswell and remember walking past some juke joint on the way to the hotel after a lot of Baptist preaching and Aretha Franklin singin on that sound system Respect Yourself.

     That last day of school, active member of Cherokee Avenune Baptist Church she was,Mrs Clary came out in the hall to greet my Dad and wish us a safe trip and a glorious inspiring national Baptist Gathering.

    Here is what I posted on the Facebook wall set up by her son and daughter in her honor:

    Gonna take a different approach in my tribute to my 8th grade teacher and talk about the archetypical congregational that was her Baptist Christian Fellowship all her life. Cherokee Avenue Baptist Church was the home church as I understand the story of W.J. Cash to whom Wake Forest University devoted a weekend of scholarship in the late 90's.
It is the Church of such Gaffney legends as Wayne Whiteside and Joe Dean Spencer and all the lore that entails.
And it had a glorious Baptist church choir legacy in its heyday under the direction of Culis O. Hayes.

That is the memory I want to spotlight.

In the winter of circa 67--if that is the exact year, coulda been a year or two earlier--Cherokee Avenue housed the Broad River Baptist Association choir weeklong training emphasis. I remember I was in the Junior associational choir with Pam Foxx, Gary and Tommy Jones and I think Anne Bolin among others. Folks from Grassy Pond, to Bethany, to First Baptist to most likely Corinth and beyond participated.

It was one of the highlights on my Mother's stay in Gaffney from 62-78. In the training finale recital--hope I'm not mixxing music schools here--our Junior group sang Elijah Rock. But connecting the dots the Adult Group, which had some illustrious choir director from Georgia come up, Momma was in the ladies alto or sorprano section of the choir with Frances Clary, FAye Edwards and Ramona Ross.

They went to FBC for the finale Celebration and Sang the Hallelujah Chorus. Usher Bob Prevatte himself opened the doors of the sanctuary of Gaffney's Historic Downtown Churches and let the whole county far and wide hear this Sainted choir doing their best for the Glory of God.

A few years ago cause my Momma wasn't a complete blowout as a parent, there was something in me that got me down to Birmingham to hear the Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Marilynne Robinson discuss her novel Gilead: So to Frances Clary and my Momma and Ramona Ross and All the Saints gone on before I salute you with this passage near the end of Gilead; a Pulitzer rumination a woman born in a shoebox on the skirts of a mill village in Gaffney, S.C. if not smack dab in the middle of it deserves!

The aging preacher in the story is reflecting on his sermon on Pentecost and says: "But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than it seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like Transfiguration. You don't have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only who could have the courage to see it?"


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