Rockdale Reporter. In June of 1996, Bill Cooke published the following list of rememberings as originally shared by Wiley Gilmore while addressing his RHS Class of 1951 reunion on the 8th and 9th of that month . . . Bill said that . . . Wiley's words will rekindle memories for the natives of our town and will serve as a history lesson for the non-natives . . .
You're an old Rockdalian if you remember . . .
- taking piano lessons from Mrs. Sledge, Mrs. Perry or Miss Catchings
- buying a block of ice from Mack Davlin's little ice house across the street from the post office
- when the Rockdale economy was influenced more by the weather than by a corporate decision in Pittsburgh
- when the town's Aggies ate a side order of crow along with their turkey after Thanksgiving (this menu has included more beef in recent years)
- your choices for swimming were a stock tank, the Gabriel or the pool in Cameron
- the Plunkett Stage Show which came to town for a few days every summer
- when Rockdale had three movies theaters -- two indoors, one out
- when the Rockdale football team made the front page of The Reporter just for scoring, much less winning (that was, of course, before the Tigers of '50 & '51, who were strong)
- when the fastest-traveling (good) news in town was that Ashby's Confectionery had gotten a shipment of Hershey bars
- the only real barbecue was cooked by Mr. Lee Caywood
- George Sessions Perry -- two bonus points if you knew the real names of the Rockdale people George wrote about in his novels
- the unique ammunition Stricker's Variety Store advertised once -- & only once -- in The Reporter (editor's hint -- the item involved the word 'shotgun')
- barber Arch Holley giving you your first barbershop shave free (applied only to boys, of course)
- Maxie's Sweet Shop, Stein's Bakery & Red Smith's Place -- also Weems, McVoy's, Backhaus Bros., M&T, and Holley's Red & White groceries
- riding a school bus driven by Mr. Beard, Mrs. Kirchenwitz, Mrs. Lynch, Mr. Alford or Mr. Gross -- in my case it was Mr. Dewitt Kornegay's bus, with the ever-present threat of a roadside breakdown or getting whipped by Toughy Hunt
- when the girls who were the best dancers went to the Baptist church & the girls who were the best piano players went to the Church of Christ
- when people uttered the words Republican & communist with the same tone of disgust
- playing racially integrated baseball on the playground of the old Minerva school long before Jackie Robinson set foot on Ebbetts Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers
- special teachers, including but not limited to Mizz Dee McCoy, who loved you like a grandmother before moving you out of fifth grade & into the hostile world of junior-high -- Mr. Arthur Winkelman who dispensed a lot of citizenship skills & compassion along with occasional whacks with his board Excalibur -- & Loween Malachek reading Damon Runyon's short story about Dancing Dan every year the last day before Christmas break -- I owe her many debts I can never repay
- special childhood friends -- mine was Frank Poncho Thompson who later made the supreme sacrifice for his country in Korea -- Poncho & I rode the school bus together, did crazy things like give each other models of German & Japanese airplanes for birthdays & Christmas -- he & I competed fiercely for everything -- once, in the third or fourth grade, we had a 'rasslin match for the favors of Nan Jones -- she spurned us both, grew up & married an engineer & served many years on the Austin school board
- the start of World War II -- I was seven years old when America got involved -- we attended a little Methodist church in Minerva & one of the young men of the congregation went off to war -- he asked the members, as a commitment of support, to sing God Be With You Till We Meet Again at the close of each Sunday service until he returned -- Charles Hickman Trotter & his brother, Billy, both returned from the war safely
And as we go separate ways from this reunion today, it may be appropriate to remember the words of that hymn & to ask that . . .
until we meet again . . .