Banks County Opinions...

JANUARY 1, 2003


By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
January 1, 2003

Reeling in the years
For two weeks, the boxes had sat there. I kept passing them by, not wishing to take that trip where shadows of memories would overwhelm me and the tears would fall.
But, it was Christmas Day and there was little else to do since Christmas with my family had been celebrated two weeks earlier.
I lifted the first box onto the table. There, inside, lay the remains of Mom’s treasures. I gently removed one item, carefully wrapped in newspaper. I knew what it was. I had wrapped it the last time I had been to Ohio. As the newspaper fell away, there it was. Mom’s beautiful heirloom vase hand-painted with life-like yellow roses, edged in gold leaf paint. It was her grandmother’s at one time. Slowly, I began to notice the scent of roses as I remembered how Mom would pick her yellow roses (her favorite) in summer to fill the vase. The vase never left the dining room table while the roses bloomed.
I held it tenderly, remembering how more than a few times I helped Mom cut the buds that would explode in a day or two into golden petals that filled the whole house with the intoxicating scent.
I choked back the tears and grabbed another box.
In it were the figurines and houses that originally were part of the village the tracks of my brothers’ Lionel trains raced through whistle blowing, steam coming from the stack. Once the trains were packed away as interest in them waned, the little village houses and its inhabitant — skaters, skiers, sledders and odds and ends of tiny villagers and wildlife figurines — turned into a Winter Wonderland scene that graced the window seat at Christmas.
Amongst the tiny figures, I found a little duckling and found myself back into the long-ago past. He was part of a barnyard set I had gotten one Christmas. Though his yellow paint was gone, lost to hours and hours of play as a child, I saw him as his “former” self. I had a thing for ducks growing up.
I set the little scene up, just as Mom had for over 40 years minus the snow-covered hills and valleys. It was as if her touch was guiding my hands to place the pieces exactly as she had.
A small jewelry box caught my eye. Hmm... I don’t remember putting that in there. It was an old leather covered box. It looked in perfect condition. I opened it and the surprise of what I found overwhelmed me. In it were three items. One took my breath away as years and years and years melted away and suddenly I was very little, three or four years old. Rough hands were fastening something around my neck. It was from my Gramps — my first necklace. It was a simple chain with a tiny duck “charm.” Tears were building along with the lump in my throat. I caught the scent of “Old Spice,” Gramps aftershave. I hadn’t seen it in so many years, I thought it had been lost. I just forgot about it. But here it was, in my hands again after all this time.
Also in the box was a medal I had won in Girl Scouts for something and my senior class high school ring.
I was amazed she had kept them; that she had put these things away for me. For me, her “little-troublemaker,” her headstrong daughter who was always questioning everything to the point of exasperation. I smiled as I remembered some of the things I had done. She deserved a medal for putting up with such an independant-thinker.
I reached for a large, long wrapped object. I wondered what it was. Then, as the paper came off, I knew what it was. It was the picture I had made from her and Dad’s high school senior portrait. It couldn’t hang in her room. It confused her. She thought Dad was my brother.
I looked into their youthful faces, so innocent, so fresh. She was beautiful; he was handsome. A striking couple. The contrast of the “then” and the “now” was more than I could bear. I set it aside.
Then I spied the box of photos. In it were more memories than I was prepared to relive. But, I couldn’t stop myself. There were my two brothers and I standing in front of a giant Christmas tree, our favorite toys in front of us. A tradition in the house until Gramps died. So many things died with him.
In an envelope dated 1951, I found a very precious treasure as I squinted and peered at old negatives. There was one negative, albeit a badly worn negative, of me and Gramps. I was overjoyed and cried out when I saw him. I had never seen this photo. For the first time in 50 years, I saw myself with my Gramps in the real world. He was holding me in his strong arms and I was smiling up at him as he smiled down at me. I remembered that smile, his hearty laugh, his joy for life.
I smiled through swelling tears and felt that a most precious Christmas gift had just been given me.
Emotions were racing around in my heart and remembrances in my thoughts. I felt I would burst. Tears streamed down my cheeks as joy and sorrow melted into one indescribable feeling that gave me such warmth, such peace. I realized, not only that I had truly loved, but that I had been truly loved as well.
There blanketed in the love of two very special people, I found what I had lost, or thought I’d lost.
Christmas wonders and blessings don’t end with youth. They go on as long as love goes on...maybe, forever.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

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By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
January 1, 2003

Cheers, tears and jeers to the
newsmakers of 2002
Local news is always informative and often entertaining. The news that made the headlines in 2002 from across Banks County was varied and caused readers to nod their heads in agreement, laugh out loud and even cry.
Some of the news that brought “cheers” from our readers and our staff last year included the first female mayor being named in Alto, the Ten Commandments going up in the county courthouse, a trucker pursuing a hit and run driver until law enforcement agents could arrest him, Jane Fonda cutting the ribbon for a home for pregnant teenagers and district attorney Tim Madison seeking an indictment for Jay Scott Ballinger for setting the 1998 fire that killed Banks County firefighter Loy Williams Jr. Cheers also go to Carole Moores for bringing much-needed professionalism to the chamber of commerce office.
A headline that brought cheers from our staff was “Fouche joins BCN staff full time.” Adam has been covering sports for a while now, but it’s great to have him on board catching the major news stories and county government for us. It’s been so great having him around full-time that I didn’t even mind all of the feathers he ruffled with his column on the county school athletic facilities. He’s the unofficial assistant editor and is in charge when I’m not around, so be sure to call him with your complaints and comments about what we do each week.
One of the headlines that brought tears was the death of Homer Mayor Leon Ray, who is missed by people throughout the county.
Other tears came at the retirement of long-time county clerk Avis Lewallen, county extension agent John Mitchell and Baldwin clerk Stacy Jacobs. Avis and Stacy have already been replaced with wonderful women, but their smiling faces are still missed.
One of the headlines that brought jeers from many was the procedures used to veto an ordinance prohibiting smoking inside city hall. The veto from the mayor, who smokes, is certainly questionable.
More jeers to the fans who turned on a female photographer at the race track and verbally and physically threatened her, while no one in management helped her out. This one still makes me angry. I don’t like to see, or hear about, anyone being threatened for doing their job. Anyone who condones or ignores this kind of behavior has a serious problem.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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