Keeping Memories Alive
By Bill Shepard
How do you keep your memories alive? The answer may be, by sharing them with others!
I had an old friend that lived in Darlington when both he and I were young boys. We were typical mill village boys. We attended the same school and the same church, and in time we worked at the mill. We knew each other well. We grew up a few houses apart. We reached adulthood and our paths led in different directions. The years separated us, but in time we found ourselves living in upstate South Carolina, and our paths crossed quite frequently. What a joy it was when we would spend time together and share our memories of growing up in Darlington. Once my friend said to me, “Bill, you have so many memories of Darlington and the past happenings, how have you kept them?” My answer was, “By sharing them with others!”
There is nothing I enjoy more than joining with an old friend and the conversation begins with, “Remember when?” You see their eyes light up, and a faraway look takes over, and you are both lost in yesteryears!
I have read that our brain records every experience we have in life. I cannot comprehend such a thing! I do know that at certain times, I recall happenings and people that I thought had been forgotten! Sometimes the recall is brought into action by a sound, a fragrance, or action.
It has been said that the brain is kind and allows us to forget unpleasant memories. Not all memories made are pleasant when they are being made, but time has a way of mellowing them! A line from a singer’s song says, “Someday, we’ll look back and say it was fun!” Experiences once thought of as being unpleasant may return in a different sort of way.
The philosopher Thomas Fuller wrote, “That which is bitter to endure may be sweet to remember.” (1732)
Since writing in this paper, and sharing my memories, I have received letters from Darlington and elsewhere expressing thanks for memories shared. Some who have read my book, Mill Village Boy, wrote that my memories stirred their own memories! Your letters and spoken words have been my reward for the writing!
A most recent letter came from Mrs. Nancy J. Webert of Gaithersburg, Maryland. She wrote that she and her brother, Bump James, look forward each week to reading the News and Press. Both grew up on Park Street in Darlington. Nancy’s mother was a teacher at St. John’s High School, the years 1922 – 26. Nancy shared memories of her Dad working with the youth and boy scouts on the old mill village.
Thanks, Nancy, for your letter. Just the mention of Park Street stirred memories in this writer’s mind!
IF you have memories of “way back when,” why not share them? Memories shared are memories remembered.
• The St. John’s High School students sold crackers (nic-nacs) each day during recess.
• The fire at St. John’s Grammar School could have been a disaster!
• A “field trip” for students at St. John’s meant a walk about the school campus, gathering leaves, acorns, etc.
• J.C. Daniels was school superintendent, an Margaret Dargan was principal of St. John’s Grammar and Susie Brunson was the high school principal.
• Angus Gainey taught violin lessons, for free, to students at St. John’s. Lessons were taught at the “Old Barn” located on N. Main Street, by the library. The “Old Barn” has been gone for many years; the old library is still standing.
• Remember the paper, pencils, etc. that was bought at the “Old Barn” had the words “Old Barn” printed on them.
• The Liberty Theater on the square was the most popular place in Darlington and the one best remembered.
• The town clock struck the time of day and could be heard nearly a mile away.
• Frenchy’s Jewelry occupied the small building next door to the theater. A 17-jewel Bulova or Elgin watch sold for ten dollars. I bought one – .25 cents down, and .25 cents a week! Taft Michau was one of the sales man. Anyone remember?
I hope I have stirred someone’s memory; sound off, I’d love to hear from you. Send your memories tot his paper, let’s keep them alive!
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. and author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week. His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C., 29673.