Cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions cause trip down mem­ory lane

The Catoosa County News - - FRONT PAGE -

You are go­ing to have to give me a lit­tle scat room to­day. I am hav­ing an attack of the nos­tal­gias. Go­ing down some­one else’s Mem­ory Lane can be as bor­ing as a lec­ture on the life cy­cle of gup­pies but this has been a re­flec­tive few weeks for me. My beloved Grady Col­lege of Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia and the cam­pus chap­ter of my col­lege fra­ter­nity, Lambda Chi Al­pha, both cel­e­brated their 100th an­niver­saries this past month in Athens.

There were so many tuxe­dos spot­ted in town dur­ing th­ese two sin­gu­lar events that ru­mors were rife Clarke County had been in­vaded by a horde of pen­guins.

Re­gret­tably, I had to miss the Grady Cen­ten­nial but I was there in spirit. I am al­ways there in spirit as well as at the uni­ver­sity on whose hal­lowed ground Grady Col­lege is lo­cated.

I am lucky I ever saw the in­side of the place. A trans­fer stu­dent from Ge­or­gia State Uni­ver­sity, I had had sev­eral close calls aca­dem­i­cally. In one of the many di­vine in­ter­ven­tions that have oc­curred in my life, I found my­self in an English Lit­er­a­ture class at Ge­or­gia State with a tough-love pro­fes­sor named Dr. Ray­mond Cook, who got me back on track. With­out Dr. Cook, 94 years young and still grad­ing my col­umns from his home in Val­dosta, we likely would not be hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion.

Grady Col­lege has given me more than I can re­pay. To re­mem­ber the anx­i­ety I felt the first day I walked into the school (and I re­mem­ber it vividly) and to walk into the cur­rent fa­cil­ity to­day and see the por­trait of an old but grate­ful grad­u­ate in a room named for him is as good as it gets.

There are a lot more stu­dents — and much smarter ones — than there were in my time and the tech­nolo­gies are light years be­yond any­thing we could have imag­ined in the days of type­writ­ers and Speed Graphic cam­eras but there is a spirit within the place that has en­dured. Be­ing a “Grady Grad­u­ate” is a badge of honor. I wear it proudly.

While at UGA, I be­came a mem­ber of the Nu Zeta chap­ter of Lambda Chi Al­pha fra­ter­nity, with the en­cour­age­ment of a high school ac­quain­tance, Paschal Glenn “Pat” Boggs. I was not a dis­tin­guished mem­ber of the fra­ter­nity but I hung around with a cou­ple of broth­ers who turned out pretty well. Joe Frank Har­ris, of Cartersville, served as Ge­or­gia’s gover­nor from 1983 to 1991. Ray El­rod, our chap­ter pres­i­dent, was a long­time mayor of Dal­ton.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, I lost con­tact with Pat. On a visit to a news­pa­per of­fice in Henry County in 1967, I hap­pened to glance at the cur­rent week’s edi­tion and saw that area res­i­dent Maj. Paschal Boggs, a Marine Corps fighter pi­lot, had been shot down over North Viet­nam and was miss­ing in ac­tion. His re­mains were never re­cov­ered.

In one of the most un­for­get­table mo­ments of my life, I was jog­ging in Wash­ing­ton in the early ‘80s just af­ter the Viet­nam Me­mo­rial Wall had been ded­i­cated. I stopped to take a look at this mag­nif­i­cent trib­ute to a group of great Amer­i­cans who de­served bet­ter. The very first name I saw among the more than 50,000 listed was my Lambda Chi Al­pha big brother, Pat Boggs. It is dif­fi­cult even to­day to de­scribe the emo­tions of that ex­pe­ri­ence. Some would call it a co­in­ci­dence. Not me. I have ex­pe­ri­enced a few co­in­ci­dences in my long life. That was more than a co­in­ci­dence. Pat Boggs was speak­ing to me.

I had the priv­i­lege of serv­ing as Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies at the Nu Zeta chap­ter’s Cen­ten­nial Cel­e­bra­tion a cou­ple of weeks ago at the Clas­sic Cen­ter in Athens. I’m not sure why I was cho­sen ex­cept I work cheap and own a tuxedo. More than 800 alumni and cur­rent mem­bers were in at­ten­dance, mak­ing it one of the largest gath­er­ings — if not the largest — in Lambda Chi Al­pha’s his­tory. I talked to a lot of peo­ple that evening who read this col­umn around the state. Many were sur­prised to learn I was a Lambda Chi. I didn’t tell them but I am sur­prised Lambda Chi would have me. For that, I thank Pat Boggs.

It has been an emo­tional month. Thank you for al­low­ing me to share my trip down Mem­ory Lane with you. As I look back on it, I wouldn’t change one step of the jour­ney. Not one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.