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 OPINION PAGE - SEPTEMBER 8, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
September 8, 1999

Sunday is Grandparents' Day
Sunday is Grandparents' Day. So I'll take this space to tell you a little about my own.
Granddaddy, my dad's father, who passed away in 1989, worked for a textile mill in Monroe for over 50 years and served in the Pacific during WWII. Granddaddy - Wilson Benjamin Mitcham - was a kind man, always looking to please those he loved. I remember Granddaddy walking out to meet me in our back yard as I dribbled a basketball on hardpan. He asked me to throw him the ball and to "put something into it." I did, and when he caught the ball with his chest and arms, he fell to the ground, saying something about how strong I was, not letting on that he had hit the dirt on purpose, just to make a kid feel good.
I remember other things, like his nightly cornbread crumbled in buttermilk and his yellow electric car that sat for years behind my grandparents' house. I only recall riding in it once, after Granddaddy and my dad - I call him Pop - let me believe I had actually fixed the car.
I remember how Granddaddy would wave to us as we rode away after a visit with both arms crossing above his head. We would round the first curve headed home and I would always catch a glimpse of him through a narrow break in the trees, still waving. We'd pass the Baptist church far out of sight and I'd wonder if he still had his hands above his head, telling us bye.
My dad's mom, Myrtle Cofield Mitcham, is perhaps the most kind-hearted person I've known. She had surgery for a brain tumor in 1993 and has been either in a hospital or nursing home ever since. I remember the night before Grandma's surgery, how she cooked us all a big meal. Grandma continues to give in that same way with kind words, hugs and smiles. When I think of love, I often picture Pop clipping Grandma's fingernails, making a joke about himself that sends them both into a chuckle.
For years, I thought my mom's mom, who lives in Campton, had the strangest name - Majosie. I was probably 10 or 11 before I realized that "Ma" and "Josie" were separate. As a kid I cackled with my cousins whenever Ma Josie opened her presents at Christmas. You could tell which gift she really liked. A nice sweater that caught her eye would evoke a loud "Ahhh....wooooo....ooooo!" Ma Josie seems quiet around the family. Perhaps she doesn't want to join in the commotion caused by my mom and her sisters once they get going - you'd think they were trying to talk above a rock band. But Ma Josie, a regular at the senior center in Walton County, has a lot to say when you talk one-on-one with her. And I really enjoy when she shares stories about her younger days.
I never really knew Papa Tom, my mom's dad. He died when I was 3. I remember him taking me to buy gum at the country store up the road from his house. Papa Tom was a man of many trades, including farming, hauling feed and owning a used car lot.
Talking with my uncle Tommy a while back, I could tell he admired his father. He might fail, but at least he tried hard and was always looking for new things to do, better ways to make money. One summer he took his flatbed to Florida and came back with the truck stacked to the hilt with boxed oranges. And one November Papa Tom
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and another man spent the month in Maine cutting down trees and stacking them on their trucks. In the used car lot days, Papa Tom, Uncle Tommy and my Uncle Gerald would go with two or three other men down to Macon most weekends to get cars they called "junkers." They would all pile into the same car and throw six towbars into the trunk, then come back with two used cars apiece, driving one and pulling the other behind it with a towbar. Tommy recalled one hair-raising drive when he nearly rear-ended another driver. He laughed, thinking about what that guy must have felt, seeing two cars - one without a driver - sliding to a halt behind him.
My grandparents are and were special people, living through times I cannot comprehend. But I know my grandparents offered immeasurable love to their children and children's children. And I'm sure many of you can say the same thing about your grandparents.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

Column
Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 8, 1999

Frankly Speaking
What's in a name?
Guy Velpoe Roberts Jr., of Cordele, is trying to find out what's in a name. He has spent the last 74 years being the only person he knew, other than his father, with the name "Velpoe." Mr. Roberts has searched the Internet, checked various databases, and posted messages on genealogy bulletin boards. The only thing he found was an obscure reference to a "Velpoe" community in Madison County.
Continuing to use the Internet, Mr. Roberts located my web page and sent an electronic message asking for information about the Velpoe Community. Commissioner Melvin Drake verified that there had been a community by that name at what is now Akin's Crossing on the Macedonia Church Road. The old Akin Store was at one time the site of Velpoe School.
Records of the old school are available at the Madison County Board of Education. These records cover the period from 1900 to 1937. They do not reveal the origins of the name.
A check of the Madison County Cemetery Book, census records and other resources in the Madison County Library failed to show anyone with the name "Velpoe." Several former students were able to describe the school, its location and size, but none of them had any idea where the name originated.
Guy Velpoe Roberts Sr. was born in nearby Jackson County around 1886. He was delivered by a Dr. Smith of Jefferson, the seventh son of a large family. According to information from family members, Mrs. Roberts asked the doctor to suggest a name because "I have run out of ideas." The doctor suggested Guy Velpoe, saying that the name came from a professor of medicine in Austria. Mr. Roberts has been unable to verify that story.
Guy Velpoe Roberts Jr. is still seeking the origins of his name. He hopes anyone who knows how the Velpoe School, and possibly his father, received the name "Velpoe" will contact him at 122 E. Twelfth Avenue, Cordele, GA 31015. Or call Frank Gillispie at 706-549-7966.

Editorial
The Madison County Journal
September 8, 1999

Remember those who are suffering
Every community has its tragedies. And this past week was particularly tough for Madison County and North Georgia with the drowning death of a Colbert boy and the burial of a slain Elberton girl with county ties.
Randy Carroll, who drowned in Lake Hartwell Thursday, was remembered Sunday by his peers as a an active member in his church's youth group, one who was "not afraid to take a stand for the Lord."
Krystal Gayle Archer, found brutally slain in Morgan County last week, was buried in Madison County Saturday. She was remembered by her preacher as a "sweet, loving and trusting" girl. Sadly, she will also be remembered for her suffering - "like Christ," one man remarked after her funeral.
Two other Madison County teenagers - Andrew Peek and Kaleb Peppers - passed away earlier this year, the first in a car wreck, the second by drowning.
It's all too often we get a call about another lost youth. We follow that call with a story about what happened and what kind of person that kid was.
But no amount of newsprint, whether in a story or obituary, does justice to any of these things: to how that person laughed or smiled, how that person enriched the lives of others or how bad the hurt is with him or her gone.
Words are often little comfort for those who are suffering.
But we hope Madison Countians will continually stand by these families facing loss with their presence and prayers.



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