More Jackson County Opinions...

May 30, 2001

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001

A and I
My sister and I are two halves of the same whole. Thirteen months apart, my mother treated us almost as twins. I could walk and talk before she was born, but, at her birth, I stopped moving forward to wait for her to catch up. She potty-trained me, much to my chagrin. Together we gave up bottles. I have an early picture of us sitting in my father's easy chair with bottles in our mouths and teddies in our hands, our pink Strawberry Shortcake pajamas faded from use. Very few pictures of us exist separate. Until I went to kindergarten, we never stood far enough apart that you could capture one without the other.
We shared everything: our toys, our room, our lives. I have no childhood memories without her and most of my memories are from two sides--hers and mine.
We were the first grandchildren in both my mother and my father's families. To them and to my parents' friends, we became "The Girls," a collective unit. We heard our given names only when we had done something wrong and sometimes even then the wrongdoing was often seen as collective. "Girls!" my grandmother shouted when we lost our shoes in the hay. "Girls!" my mother screamed when she found us eating pokeberries. "Girls!" my father yelled when we ate a pint of sour cream thinking it was yogurt.
Growing up collectively also involved identical presents. At Christmas, April and I opened our presents together. We ripped into the paper, each trying to reach the gift before the other. Neither wanting to be the last to know what the gaily wrapped package contained. At first, they were dolls. Mine usually sported a blue dress, April's a pink one. Then came dresses and sweaters. My side of the closet reflected the softer tones of the rainbow with blues and violets. April's side was more striking with pink dresses and red sweaters. Once we reached the age when our size was no longer as apparent, bath soaps and lotions made their way under the X-mas tree. I was peaches or pears. She was cinnamon apple.
School separated us, but only for a short time each day. We met other people and pursued other interests, always returning to each other. No one understood us as well as we did each other. In our early years, we developed in very different ways. Consciously, we welded out our existence so each would be dependent on the other. We represented contrary poles that. Together, formed a whole, very complex person. I excelled intellectually and loved to read. She was good in sports and happier among large groups of people. I was shy and clumsy. She was graceful. She felt loved when surrounded by many friends, yet I never had the energy to cultivate more than three friendships at a time. I stuck to the rules and never disobeyed. She skirted around them with a slickness that belied her cutesy face and curly blond hair, never fearing punishments or reprimands. I was sloppy, she was meticulous. She impulsively charged while I tested the waters. I preferred peace and she thrived in confrontation.
Physically, we each took after a different side of the family. April looks like my father's sister -- tall, thin, with hazel eyes. I took after my mother's Dutch family and am more curvaceous with brown eyes. We both have my mother's blond hair but in different shades and textures. She has wavy, golden blond locks, which contrasts with my much straighter and darker hair. But, overwhelmingly, we look into each others' very different eyes with different perspectives and we speak with the same voice, identical in tone and diction. It's amazing that in all of the differences, we have such a striking similarity that when our parents hear us speak they can't tell us apart. Our voices -- products of geography and genetics -- betray our identicality as nothing else does.
When we were young, we entertained our parents' friends with tales of an idyllic future. I'm sure they secretly laughed at our naiveté in thinking that we would live together forever, yet I know they envied us, too, for our unspoken understanding of one another and our unbroken youth. We dreamed that I would become a doctor and pay all of the bills while she would try to make a go of it as an actress because she loved to sing and be the center of attention. I kidded her about having to keep our house clean. She begged me to wait a year when I graduated from high school so that we could go to college and room together. We didn't think ahead to men and marriage and how that would change our perfectly ordered future.
Eventually, years later, it dawned on us that boys become men and men marry women. We modified our plan and spent the summer drawing maps of our houses. We each wanted different things, but, as always, we compromised and before August we had a set plan. We would buy acres of land in a remote place. The driveway would be hidden from the road so that we could create our own private Eden. A tall fence would enclose the property and allow plenty of room for our six horses to run. Once a car entered the gate, it had to park and either ride a horse to the houses or else drive one of the four-wheelers that would be conveniently parked there. Our houses would be slightly set apart with trees and fields all around. Our children would always get along and our nameless husbands would work hard. We would home school our children together so that nothing from the outside world would intrude upon our peace. We decorated our large map with stubby purple flowers and a cloudless sky colored in blue.
I don't know exactly when the dream ended. Maybe it is still there, in the back of my mind, tucked behind the taste of pokeberries. The separateness that had at one time marked us a well-planned team, began to alienate us from one another. We grew and changed into more complete people, independent of one another. A and I don't speak of our bygone dreams of cohabitation. I still hope that someday my husband and I will buy enough land so that we can build our two houses in a row, but I don't think it will ever happen. I recognize that childhood dreams don't come true -- the pot of gold is not at the other end of the rainbow. Life happens. I don't regret growing up. I have more than my share of fond memories -- late-night chats, an accidental bloody nose, huckleberries on the warm hillside. I had someone to laugh with, cry with, and love with -- my baby sister, my other side.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001

Thank athletes, not realignment
Looking back on the 2000-01 school year, it's hard not to be reminded of the old cheer, "It's great to be a Dragon fan." Regardless of what the placemat at the Chinese restaurant says, it was definitely the Year of the Dragon.
There are those who attribute Jefferson's success this year in athletics to the GHSA realignment of 2000 that dropped the number of Class A schools from 106 to 73, and only a fool would totally discount the effects of so immense a change.
Still, even realignment can't account for the unprecedented level of success enjoyed by Dragon sports teams during the past year. A closer look at each sport provides glimpse into that fact. Let's take a look at the three state championship seasons, though the case could also be made in other sports.
Girls' basketball. Of the 32 teams that qualified for the state playoffs a year ago, 15 moved up at least one classification. It's also worth noting that of the four finalists in the 2001 Class A and Class AA tournaments, three (Jefferson, Wesleyan and Greater Atlanta Christian) had been in Region 8-A a year earlier. On the surface, realignment seems to have helped the Lady Dragons immensely. But let's look closer.
The margins of victory in both the Class A and Class AA tournaments left little doubt as to who the best teams were, at least until the finals. The fact that GAC cruised to the Class AA title, combined with the fact that Jefferson narrowly defeated GAC during the final week of the regular season, proves that Jefferson and GAC were at least on the same level, and that Jefferson probably would have had little trouble reaching at least the semifinals even in Class AA this year. Basically, the only effect on Jefferson's title run would have been they might have had to down both GAC and Wesleyan to win, rather than just one. Not easy, but still doable. And still at least a final four team.
Slow-pitch softball. Jefferson had also reached Columbus in 1999, and only two of the eight teams from that year's quarterfinals moved up after reclassification. Granted, one of those two was champion Telfair County, but the Trojans had lost during the tournament to runner-up Calvary Baptist, who Jefferson defeated in this year's tournament. Again, not as easy a ride, but certainly doable, and almost surely a state finalist at least.
Wrestling. This won't be a popular statement, but without Lovett's move into Class AAA last year, Jefferson would have been runner-up again in 2001. The Lions easily recovered from their jump up two classifications by convincingly winning the 2001 Class AAA title. But Jefferson would still have been in the top four, and probably second.
The point being this: the GHSA realignment surely played a role in the overwhelming success of Jefferson's athletic programs in 2000-01, but not nearly as big a role as the incredibly talented Dragon athletes. Congratulations to you all.

Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald. He may be reached at the sports desk at 367-2348, or via email at


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