20th reunion continues to bring friends and family home to Black Water
Recently, at the Black Water Baptist Church about 75 attended the 20th reunion. The reunion takes place every two years on the first Saturday after July 4. Friends and relatives of Black Water #1, Black Water #2, Shady Grove, and surrounding communities gathered for a time of feasting, fellowship, and fun. Pastor William Piercy gave the invocation before the potluck meal.
Pictures of students from Black Water and Shady Grove, dating from 1932-2013, adorned the walls. We're especially proud of the pictures of both schools that Wandara Caery Burgett painted. As we viewed all of those pictures, we realized that there's truly magic in the memory of schoolday friendships.
Our buildings are gone, but our memories linger. At Black Water, part of the Rock Store is standing. At Shady Grove, the teacherage is still there near the baseball field where those wonderful competitive games were played with Pete catching for Shady Grove and Carl catching for Black Water.
What fun we had during those years as we joined together in singing and revival meetings at Black Water #1, Black Water #2, St. John's, New Harmony, Little River, and Milligan Ridge.
Because of our beginnings as Black Waterites (Tommy Hatcher's name for us), what we thought of ourselves was much more important than what others thought of us. Our leaders helped us to understand a person's state of mind was more important than his physical location. Later we learned from Milton's Paradise Lost that the mind is its own place and in its self can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
Since our last meeting, many of our classmates, Christian friends, and community leaders have entered into the blessings of eternal life. As we called the roll, we reminisced about the good times by recalling the wonderful accomplishments and activities of each one of the following:
Trilla Carey's husband, George Wheeler; Beulah Jean Carey Lozier; two of the triplets, Roy and Ruby Carey; Floyd Caery's grandson, Colton; Bernard Crouse; Norma Despain's sisters, Alberta, Alwanda, Thelma, and Charlene; Wanda Whitney's husband, Jimmy Fincher; Verl Waddell Keller; Earl Williams, Jr.; Guelda Simpson; J.B. Simpson; Joe and Andrea's son, Jack B. Simpson; Joe's aunt, Patty Chipman Booth; Vance Waddell's son, L.Van; Doris Holder Robertson; Emily Billings's son and daughter-in-law, Glen and Bobby Tolliver; Floy Jo Strickland; Earline Cater; Johnny Cater; Robert Lee Meacham; Patsy Meacham Fyles; Juanita Patton's grandson, David Lee; Lorene Patton; R.J. Bennett; Lottie Simpson's son, Levon Stockton; the last of the Black Water Belles, Violet Waddell Scott Alexander; Mavis Ramsey; Carroll Waddell.
After the roll call, we enjoyed singing and listening to Vance Waddell, our featured speaker. Vance always brings happiness and laughter. As Vance recalled the years at Black Water, we all were in agreement with Jerry Caery's statement: you can take the boy out of Black Water, but you can't take Black Water out of the boy.
We're extremely proud of the good habits that were formed during those years. In one issue of The Herald, Nella V., the editor, and Ola D., the assistant editor, stated that the good habits which lead to success were a good foundation, faith in God, and a definite goal. Most of us have retained the good advice of our editors.
Being the emcee of these meetings that cover 40 years, I feel almost as Thomas Edison did when he said, "Many of my ideas belonged to other people who didn't bother to develop them." Our teachers provided good books for pleasurable reading. We now realize our teachers took our hands, opened our minds, and touched our hearts.
We had classmates attending from all over Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. Coming from Campbell, Calif., Ora Lee Caery Castleman traveled the farthest. Even though some of the family had to stay at home because of illness, the Eddie and Annie Carey family with 22 members had the most present.
We really appreciated those who made our day success: Pastor William Piercy; song leader, Morris Simpson, Jr.; pianist Trudene Hatcher; and photographer Barbara Lasater; Laura Meacham Griffin Vandivor brought a fitting and inspiring close to our afternoon of memories with her acappella rendition of "Trust His Heart."