CHS54.COM has moved HERE where Charlotte Central High School's graduates of 1954 now get together.
That was a special class at a very special time in history; the likes of which will never be seen again.
Ed Myers, aka Lee Shephard, is webmaster. Email is email@example.com
"...Practice, man, practice!" From that old joke, to actual reality for CHS 54's own Don Nance!
By Letty Nance
Since Don was 13, singing in the middle school choir and taking voice lessons, he dreamed of singing on the stage of Carnegie Hall in NYC. That dream came true last Monday night! He has been singing with the Wytheville Community College Choir for several years now. The choir was invited by the Manhattan Concert Productions to sing with choirs from all over the U.S. and a 30 member chamber orchestra in Carnegie Hall. The piece was written by Dan Forest, a 39 year old musical genius from Bob Jones University. “JUBILATE DEO” (Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!) from Psalm 100 was the main piece WCC Choir sang for the winter concert last November. It was beautiful then, but magnificent when done by 200 voices. It lasted about 45 minutes, then there was a standing ovation with the command for an encore!
We had the privilege of meeting Dan Forest, the composer and his family in the lobby after the performance. I told him that God had blessed him with a special talent, and I had been blessed by hearing it.
That 81 year old husband of mine has now checked off one on his bucket list. God continues to send unexpected blessings. We are both grateful for having had such a wonderful experience.
One more thing, the performance will be shown on PBS channel, if I learn when it airs I will let you know.
I had to prove that I couldn't see out of one eye! Say What?
Yep, That's true. Read on........ It was 1952 and the day had finally arrived. The one, that, wthout a doubt, was the most important birthday of my life! Number 16!
The age at which it could become legal to drive! All others pale after that one. And my guess is that most of you card carrying members of the "silent generation" feel the same way. I'm sure the boys do...and probably the girls too. That was the one I believe that most dramatically marked the end of our childhood and the beginning of adulthood. The wonderful music of those car keys...rattling in our pockets...was number one ....on our hit parade of 1952...and for many years afterward. But, it almost didn't happen. At least not without a fight. My Dad and I were the the first ones in line at the DMV that morning. There are still wrinkles on my face caused by an acute attack of angleman syndrome. (excessive smiling). The written test was a piece of cake. The road test was a breeze. Finally, the eye test......... Well, this was when the goofy smile on my face came crashing down. I failed. However, the DMV official explained that....there was still a possibility that I could get special permission to drive....with proper documentation from a qualified eye specialist. There was an "exception" for "one eyed" persons, for which I qualified. I was born with one almost perfect eye and one which was very weak, (not correctable with classes). With persistence, my Dad was able to arrange for an eye specialist to check me out and sign the proper forms and get me back to the DMV before they closed. I think I got the last license issued that day.
That was my introduction to the wonderful world of bureaucracy. You see, it was perfectly legal for a "one eyed" person to obtain a drivers license in North Carolina. However, I had to have a note from a Doctor...stating that I really......couldn't see out of one eye! ( A note from a Doctor confirming that I can't see?) "It;s an ill wind that blows no good." So...I thought, at least maybe this will keep me from being drafted! Nope. They were drafting one eyed men (popeyes) regularly. The only restriction was.....they could never be promoted to officers. Oh great....two years as a "grunt!" I'm still looking for some good wind from that pain in the butt event....to "blow"my way, but right now all I see in the next few years regarding the DMV is ...who the Hell knows. One thing for sure...it won't be anything that keeps idiots, fools and nerds from getting drivers licenses. Just look around. -Ed
Tired of the every-day grind? Want to get away from it all? Ever dream of a land of romantic adventure? We offer you escape, guaranteed to free you from the four walls of today.
--Opening of old-time radio show: Escape.
I do not know about you but I need a break, a break from the unrelenting pounding my brain has been getting from today’s “news,” fake or not. Thankfully, the introduction to my favorite radio program has made its way into my random thoughts.
Those old radio programs were great. It is giving me a good feeling this morning to remember those shows. Do you remember… The FBI in Peace and War (L, A, V, A, dum-dee-dum)?
It makes me feel good to think about “simpler” times. Perhaps you call them “the good-old days.” I digress. Today I want to offer you a different “escape,” the one I have chosen to get away from the suffocating and depressing news. I implore you to embrace the day-to-day little things that are your life. I am convinced that in doing so you will find a true escape. This beautiful Saturday morning in the middle of North Carolina is perfect for an escape. Let us get started….
Outside my kitchen window is a gorgeous pink magnolia in full bloom. In a few days its delicate petals will flutter from its limbs and cover the ground with an incomparable softness. Actually, the petals have already begun their descent. It is such a wonderful feeling to see this tree at this time of year. Look quickly or you will miss it.
My “every-day grind” got off to an early start. By 5:30 a.m. I had made the bed, started the coffee and checked my emails (There were none.). Having accomplished so much so soon, I began to call myself “Butter.” That is what you are when you are “on a roll.” Next, in the predawn darkness I retrieved the Winston-Salem Journal from the sidewalk in front of the house. It is always comforting to see the el papel. I hope my high-school Spanish teacher, Ms. Foster, forgives me for bastardizing what she tried to teach me.
Sadly, papers are out of favor, just like those old radio shows. This morning, however, I found new life in the Winston-Salem Journal. Did you know I worked there from September 1962 through December 1965? Those were heady days. Those were law-school days. Those were days when the excitement of the Journal news room was all that saved me from the absolutely boring grind of Wake Forest Law School.
It is hard to figure but today’s paper got my attention in a way that I found refreshing. Oh, it had the usual gloom stuff, i.e. J.C. Penney says it will close up to 140 stores by middle of year. Even the above-the-fold banner headline was a downer: Tweet prompts exodus at school.
Undeterred by this discouraging front-page news, I pressed forward and found ’One community’, a front-page item about the opening of a mosque in nearby Clemmons. The story was illustrated by four color photos, two on the front page and two on Page A8. It was an encouraging piece about non-Muslims who had responded to an invitation to visit area mosques. This was a counterweight to folks on the other side of the county who had been acting ugly toward Muslims.
Not to be overwhelmed by this “good” story, those of us who cling to our newspapers were brought back into the darkness by this headline: NAACP urges boycott of N.C. Gag. I took a breath and slogged forward into the paper.
I was rewarded with Bill would legalize medical marijuana, Page A4. Things got even better. On the op-ed page I found two columns of interest: The transformative power of gratitude by Nigel Alston, a local resident who is a weekly contributor, and A stubborn little hope by Sharon Randall, a nationally known writer who tells great tales about her “ every-day grind.”
Here is an excerpt from Alston’s essay:
There is so much to give thanks for, like the students at Ephesus Junior Academy, who are always excited when I arrive with the next book for them to read. I will be visiting them soon with another special guest….
He said yes to an invitation to speak to the students and sit in the “hot seat” to field questions. When I slow down enough, I can reflect on meeting him at a retreat, learning more about each other over lunch, which resulted in the invitation to visit the school.
I am grateful that people are willing to help without seeking anything in return.
And, I am thankful for notes of appreciation that are unexpected, especially from my young mentee, Michai.
“I just want to thank you for being my mentor,” he wrote in a card…. I met him when he was 3 years old and remember when his mother wrote the letters for him. Now he is in middle school and growing into a fine young man.
“I got my grades up to A/B honor roll,” he continued. “Thank you again for being my mentor.”
I read that note before writing this column. I am grateful.
Don’t let minor things impact your gratitude.
Sharon Randall has a different story but, like Nigel Alston, she conveys a message of encouragement. In her case she has broken her ankle and she is trying to learn to walk again. Here is what she says about her every-day grind:
Three times a week, I go to physical therapy where some very smart and patient (and, at times, hilarious) therapists, who are young enough to be my children, are teaching me how to stretch, strengthen and walk again, preferably without a limp.
It’s helping. One of the best things about it is seeing others—some in worse shape than I am in—who are starting over, too.
If I need further inspiration, I call my brother, Joe, who was born blind with cerebral palsy and uses braces and a cane to find his way in a dark world.
This is not the first time I’ve had to start over. In my senior year of high school, I wondered “What will I do now?”
I wanted to go to college, but held no means to do so, just a stubborn little hope that kept whispering in my ear, “By the grace of God, you will do this, and all will be well.”
Then a deacon in my church arranged for me to take a test for a scholarship that paid my way through college.
Years later when my children were born, and I felt so clueless as a mother, that same hope whispered again.
When I took a part-time job as a file clerk for a newspaper and ended up as a reporter.
When I wrote the first of what has been 25 years of columns.
When my dad took his life.
When my first husband lost his battle with cancer and I found myself alone in a four-bedroom house with five sets of dishes and no one to feed.
And, two years later, when my former editor, in a nervous sweat, confessed his heart and asked me to give him a chance.
Those times and countless others, I heard that whisper: “By the grace of God you will do this, and all will be well.”
It was always just enough to help me start over—again.
If you are starting over, please know you are not alone. Some of us do it every day. And we all do it sooner or later. Keep listening for that whisper of hope.
I haven’t quite lost the limp yet. Maybe tomorrow. Until I do, I’ll keep singing, “Dem bones gonna walk around.”
Now that I made you read the paper, let us get on with our “escape.” I, too, have “a four-bedroom house and five sets of dishes and no one to feed” except me. Toward that end I wanted bacon and eggs for breakfast. That did not go well. My unopened pound of thick-cut bacon was molded. There was only a single egg in the carton. I started over, opting for a “hole-in-one.” It was yummy. My every-day grind was off to a good start, no need to escape. It got better.
The doorbell rang. On my 110-year-old front porch stood my 49-year-old son who was taking his 8-month-old puppy for a walk. The dog weighs about 80 pounds, has long curly, black hair and is full of what Tom Mix calls “cowboy energy.” What a joy it was to see them.
They stayed a short while. I got the latest news about one of the local dog parks, how it is divided into two sections, one for big dogs and one for small ones (25 pounds or less). I gave Java a bowl of water which she promptly spilled while trying to drink it. A good time was had by all. You see, there is little reason for me to get away from the every-day grind. I am sure you can tell. My daily life is as good as it gets. So is yours. Escape is not an option.
Maybe that's just one word....overeach...Maybe that's two words, Over Reach.....Whatever, we all know what it means. Barack Obama and the Dims tried to force unisex bathrooms in public schools on us.....Thank God, Trump has overturned that insanity. My hope for our country is that for the sane members in our society continue to outnumber the freaks and mentally deranged. However, never in a thousand years did I ever think that the two sides of sanity would ever get this close. I remember in JFK's time, the political gurus pretty much agreed that 20 % of the population were card carrying nuts...so it was useless trying to appeal to them. Now that number is at least 40%....perhaps even higher. Now, that would be OK.............we could live with that.... Except.......it's obvious that more and more of our elected "leaders".....are members of that 40%. Exhibit A....Maxine Waters, John Lewis ( who said that the island of Guam was in danger of tipping over because of increasing population.)....... etc....etc..... Ed
Man #1....So, you say your wife is on an "All Banana diet? Man #2...That's right. Man #1...Nothing but bananas? Man #2...Yep. Man #1...Has she lost much weight? Man #2....Nope. But you ought to see her climb a tree! Among the 100's and 100's of changes we've seen over the years, one jumped out at me this morning after a restless night of strange dreams about that tree in my backyard on East 5th Street. Kids don't climb trees anymore! I guess because there are no "Video Games" to play up there. Anyway, back to that tree in my backyard.
It was a Chinaberry tree....and I spent at least half of my childhood in that tree. That's where I went when I was happy, or sad...or just needed to think things out. I suppose it was my "security blanket." There have been times, as an adult, I've fantasized about problems that popped up that could easily be solved...if only I could climb that Chinaberry tree again and think them out. If I was assured that the people who now own my old house on East 5th Street wouldn't call the police and report an insane 80 year old man sitting in a tree in their back yard......I'd be down there in a flash! Ed.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
One of only a handful of poem written by Joyce Kilmer. His primary occupation was a reporter for one of the New York papers.
A week after Sonny's death, I got a call from one of his uncles inviting me to meet at Sonny's house for an informal "goodbye." to my friend of almost 40 years. He explained that there would only be a few relatives and Sonny's friends attending. There were 6 aunts and uncles there. And me. I had been Sonny's only friend. At least, who cared enough to attend his "goodbye" event. He had been a good soul, but not one who made friends easily. It required a lot of patience to understand him...and overlook his physical ...and "off and on"...mental......shortcomings. It appeared to me that even his relatives, like many others, simply "wrote him off." None were apparently aware of his accomplishments. So.....those of you who know me....won't be surprised to learn that was my cue to begin to "speechify." I spoke of his success in teaching himself electronics....told about his founding a successful recording studio....achieving the rare honor of producing a top selling pop hit.....and concluded with "Sonny accomplished MORE.......with the tools he was given....(by God) than anyone else I have known." The small gathering of his relatives were amazed, They knew none of that. Rest in Peace, Sonny. -Ed (My friendship with Sonny was not a one way street. Over the years his electronic advice and expertise proved invaluable to me AND...to the company I finally retired from. Sonny also gave me several pieces of expensive equipment and microphones when he dissolved his recording studio, which played no small part in the success of my company.)
The birds, that is. This is the time of the year they change their tunes, Same birds, just a different "tune"....... The reason they do this is not because of the temperature change (usually it's getting colder this time of year) But....because of the extra daylight. We mere humans can't distinguish that the daylight is getting "longer".....But the birds can!
This is the kind of thing old codgers like myself....never noticed or even thought about back during our stress filled "working days." And that's a damm shame. I feel blessed that the Good Lord has let me live long enough to contemplate and appreciate the many small blessings of this old world that I was too "busy" to think about before. But still......there are so many things, large and small, that our tiny human brains will never understand....until perhaps that final bell rings.... like, "Why roaches?" Ed
Sonny passed away ...peacefully in his bed...almost 20 years ago. The odds of that happening were astronomical. They were overwhelming that Sonny would eventually meet his maker while driving erratically in the streets of Washington, DC. The dictionary should have Sonny's picture next to the definition of 'Nerds on the highway." One night he called me and mentioned that he had gone through Thomas Circle...one of the many "circles" in Washington....most of which have statues of American Heroes in the middle. I thought he meant he went through the Red light....at Thomas Circle. Nope. instead of following the traffic around the circle....he went over the curb...and on the grass...THROUGH the circle. How he missed hitting the statue....I'll never know. Once, he told me that the DC police had invited him to come down to headquarters to discuss a citizen's complaint...which claimed that Sonny's car had side swiped a car parked legally on Massachusetts Ave. As the police read over the complaint to Sonny.....the officer.....paused....and said, "Wait a minute,...."this said the damage to his car was on the RIGHT side. That's ridiculous....this report is obviously phony. Sorry to have bothered you, sir. You're free to go." It never occurred to him that Sonny regularly spent a good deal of time driving on the sidewalks of the Nation's Capitol. The hotel, where he worked, banned him from parking in their garage...because he had hit the same post so many times. I was with him once when he got a call from his insurance company informing him they were rejecting his latest claim. Sonny was irate. He let them know in uncertain terms that he was their "best customer."...and he just might cancel his policy. I don't know what the reaction was on the other end.
He was a high school kid that evening when he first walked into the lobby of the TV station and asked the receptionist if there if there was anyone who could "give him a tour" of the place. That's exactly what I did that day in 1953 while visiting the Nation's Capitol. And a kind announcer by the name of John Trimble introduced me to the inner workings of a big TV station... WTOP TV ...where 10 years later...I would be employed. So. I volunteered to show him around. He was a nice kid, but obviously physically disadvantaged...and at first glance, perhaps mentally as well. But looks are deceiving. That was certainly the case with "Sonny." After talking with him for no more than 5 minutes, I realized that hiding behind that blank expression....was a pretty sharp mind. But the Lord had not blessed Sonny physically....with either appearance or coordination. I showed him the studios and explained the workings of the place as best I could....and sent him on his way.. Normally, the story would end there. But not with Sonny. He came back...many times. Kinda got to be a nuisance....nevertheless I remained patient ...and answered all his questions. A few of the engineers got used to his hanging around ....and most were patient and generous with their time as well. Long story short....Sonny graduated from high school, enrolled in a engineering course....10 years later....with the help of a substantial inheritance, he opened his own recording studio in Washington. Meanwhile, hardly a week went by when I didn't get a phone call from him, I was very happy for his success and even arranged for several recording projects I was involved in to be produced at his studio. He sold his business at just about the right time...and took a less stressful job with one of the big hotels in DC....installing and operating their public address system. As far as I know, the system he installed is still in operation....as it was the state of the art in the 80/s. But installing a complicated PA system....and operating it....are two different things. It's a shame the hotel didn't discover that in spite of Sonny's mental agility....his physical agility was almost non existant. For example, back in those days, we recorded on reels of audio tape. When editing, you would go to the word you wanted to remove...rewind the tape an inch of so...then take a razor blade and cut out the "offending" word...and make your "splice." Well, Sonny was not agile enough to reverse the tape....a few inches....he would always rewind it all the way back to the beginning of the reel. It was a huge waste of time. Also, when operating a PA (Public Address) system....to activate a mic...he always did it backwards.....which produced a shockingly loud "feedback" noise. He made this same mistake for 40 years. It was no big deal. Until that evening in 1984, when President Ronald Reagan was attending an event in the ballroom of the hotel....and the lights dimmed....and the opening act was to begin..... and Sonny got his cue to open the speakers mic and..... "WHAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM"....... Sonny's trademark "feedback"..........had struck again! It was so loud and shocking.....that ...to Reagan's Secret Service Agents it sounded like an attack of some kind....so they piled on top of the President to protect him from ....whatever it was. It was just Sonny....turning on a mc. The picture made the next morning's Washington Post. -Ed