Carolyn Watkins Newton
Do you remember the little house just behind the Baptist Church where the big switchboard was located? Of course, the operator kept the line open during our calls and once when Barbara Campbell, Peggy Harris and I rang the operator and asked her to ring another friend, we just wanted to sing “Happy Birthday” over the phone. Well, the operator broke in and severely scolded us for playing on the phone and said she was reporting it to our mamas, (swish…swish…swish…here comes that hickory). Of course it was that same operator who I could call and say “Will you ring my grandma?” and she would.
My personal dream was to be a journalist from the time I was just a little girl. When I went to Gardner Webb, I was excited to take Mr. Sanford Martin’s journalism class. He liked me and I liked him. He would give us weekly assignments…ie: Your most memorable experience, the person you loved most, the worst hurt you had ever had, the day you would like to forget, the happiest time in your life. Well, when I wrote my most memorable experience, I wrote about when my daddy died. He and I shared birthdays. Back then they would bring the body back to the home and for several days people would come in to look at it. So many people came to our house that us kids had to sleep on “pallets” in the front room. Yes, the very room that the coffin was in. From my place I could see the profile of my daddy and I will never forget the way I began that first assignment….”A cold white face on a cold white pillow” Not even a complete sentence. Mr. Martin asked me if he could read it to the class.
As the year went on, every assignment I had became a detailed story about my daddy. [Finally] Mr. Sanford talked to me and said that I had lots of potential for expressing myself in written form (he gave me A’s), however, he said that I had such a narrow life that I really needed to major in accounting until I had a few more “life experiences.” Mr. Martin….where are you???? I have a number of life experiences now that would curl your toes. Can I write now?