I began writing my “Recollections” several years ago, not just to talk about me but to preserve things that happened in my life so that my descendants might be able to read about one of their ancestors and know a little bit about them. So, I began to write about things that had a special impact on my life in some way. Thus, the story that follows.
When I started in the first grade, we lived right across the street in front of Annie Belle Clark Grammar School. It was the city school for first through the fourth grade. The school building was a large brick building that was somewhat imposing to a young lad just starting his schooling. I remember that my first- grade teacher was a Miss Young. I fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. I remember the day when I discovered that she was engaged to a young man and that I could not have her. It was devastating to me but I got over it very quickly. The long, high sliding board became of more interest to my seven-year-old mind.
Tifton began to grow and space at the grammar school ran out. The solution to the problem was found in that the fourth grade was moved to the Junior High School on Twelfth Street the year I was going into the fourth grade so my class left Annie Belle Clark a year early and moved to the Jr. High (Middle School today). It was a great adventure because the Jr. High had students through the eight grade. We felt big.
I had a number of notable teachers while at that school. Incidentally, when our class reached the nineth grade and was suppose to go to Tifton High School to begin our High School experience, the Board of Education moved the nineth grade over to the Junior High School so my class was as that school for six full years. I thought I would never get to move on to High School.
I remember Mrs. Carter, my fourth-grade teacher. What a great lady. Then there was Mrs. Gibbs in the eighth grade along with Mrs. Allen our English teacher who scraped her long fingernails on the blackboard when writing on it. What a skin- crawling horrible sound! I also have fond memories of Mrs. John Lindsey, my seventh- grade teacher. She was a wonderful lady that I loved very much. Gentle and kind, she always treated everyone with respect, love and concern for their life situation. Mrs. Lindsey’s husband’s was named John Lindsey. They were two of the finest people I have ever known. Favorites of mine in the Tifton community. During that span of time in my life, the Lord was preparing me for what He would have me do in life as a Pastor and Preacher of the Word of God. I didn’t know it yet but in retrospect I was later able to see it.
In those days students were given other activities to do for recess if the weather was inclement. Sometimes we would all go to the auditorium and watch a movie. Usually, we saw movies with The Three Stooges. Loved that. Laughed a lot. Then we might view a movie by Laurel and Hardy. Boy, those movies were absolutely hilarious! But there were many times when we would not be able to go to recess that there was no movie and we just had to sit in class and wish for a brighter day. On such days, my teacher, Mrs. Lindsey, would let me tell the class stories. The kids seemed to love it and they would tell Mrs. Lindsey to “let Bill tell a story.” Well, when she gave me permission, I would have about thirty minutes to tell one of my stories. They were not something I had read and then related to them. They were made up in my head as I went along. I remember one of them dealt with a young kid going through a cemetery at night. I spiced up the story by pronouncing the word as “SAM-e-TERRY.” Somehow, I could make it up and tell it in a cogent manner as I went along developing the story in my imagination. The kids loved it! I don’t understand exactly why, but they did. I stretched that story out with scary details and they would sit there wide eyed, quiet and attentive. Mr. Lindsey loved that so I was called upon to entertain the class with a story every time it rained or was excessively cold. I remember one cold, rainy day the class said: “Let Bill tell the cemetery story again. We like that one!” So, I became the class story teller. I enjoyed it as well as the kids and Mrs. Lindsey loved it when I would hold their attention for a half hour while recess was suppose to be going on.
I enjoyed my school days and one reason was that I had some great teachers. Mrs. Lindsey is one that stands out in my mind. Years later the Lord called me to preach and in the process of time, made me the Pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA (Augusta area). One Sunday, Buddy and Linda Blitch and their family joined our church and I found out that Linda is the daughter of Mrs. Lindsey, my seventh-grade teacher who let me tell my stories. She will never know how much her mother’s influence meant in my life as she let me hone the skills that would later become those which are essential for preaching the Gospel. The only difference is that I do not have to make up the stories but now I am relating the truths of the Bible concerning the Gospel Story and I am not simply Telling Stories.
William F. Harrell