Former Sessions Schoolhouse students kids again

Published 1:21 am Sunday, November 2, 2008

Faye Galloway, laughingly, said that, as a student at Sessions School, she never got in a hurry until the bell rang for recess.

At the first ever Sessions School Reunion on Saturday, nobody got in a hurry until the dinner bell rang.

In fact, the former students, ages 50-something to 96, acted like a bunch of elementary school children. They talked when they should have been listening and they didn’t follow direction one. They were having too much fun to be restricted by “rules.” They were all anxious to renew old acquaintances –once they figured out, “Now who am I taking to?”

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Many of them had not seen their classmates in “a hundred years” so they didn’t readily recognize each other. But once they did, there were squeals, giggles, slaps on the back and firm handshakes.

When Bill Ward first heard about the reunion, he said he had the “best smile” on his face that he’d had in many years.

“It just warmed my heart,” he said. “It was a feeling that I can’t describe. Sessions School is a part of my being and it’s so great to be back.”

Each and every one seemed genuinely happy to be back at Sessions School where they learned, laughed and enjoyed a simple childhood.

“We are so thankful for our heritage,” said Lavon Davis. “Our teachers and parents and the community laid a good foundation for us and we have been able to build on it and pass on the values that we received here to our children and grandchildren. It’s so good to, once again, see those we grew up with.”

Gail Jordon, who coordinated the reunion, said it had been 50 years since the doors to Sessions School were closed.

“But we didn’t let the school die,” she said. “It has lived on in our memories.”

“Memories” was the word of the day at the Sessions School Reunion.

Pugh Davis passed around a faded newspaper clipping about a womanless wedding at Sessions School.

“My brother was the groom and he weighed about 300 pounds. They didn’t have anything to fit him so they wrapped a sheet around him,” Davis said laughing. “I was the groom and, when I looked over at my ‘bride,’ I said ‘I don’t believe I want to marry her,’ and out came the shotgun. We had a shotgun wedding.”

Such stories were shared as the schoolmates gathered and then the bell rang for them to “assemble.”

After a short welcome, the former schoolmates were divided into four age groups and each group had an opportunity to sit together and reminisce in the oral tradition.

The age 78 and up group, laughingly, said they had been out of school so long that they had forgotten everything they had learned but they each had special fond memories of their old school.

Each one remembered walking “10 miles” to school and trading what they had brought for lunch to someone who had something better.

“We’d sit on the ground to eat our dinner and I’d carry a butter roll and everybody wanted to swap me something for my butter roll,” Eleanor Powell Rachel said.

Johnny Ward remembered heating soup on the school’s potbellied stove and Rufus Berry had memories of eating lunch in a ditch and then lying flat so he would be out of the cold because the wind would blow over him.

Dave Barron remembered a classmate spitting on another’s marbles and a fist-fight breaking out. Another student remembered what happened with a student pulled his pocket knife and another remember her sorrow when she was told there was no Santa Claus.

Punishments that were handed out included standing on one leg in the corner, a few licks with a doubled belt or a switch from the plum trees or memorizing a chapter in the Bible.

The outhouse was a source of much conversation as was the spring that the children had to go to for drinking water and a quiet respite from school.

At the Sessions School Reunion on Saturday, memories flowed like an unleashed stream that had been too long held at bay. One memory spurred another and another and the schoolmates were once again children and in an unrestricted classroom without a teacher.

“The next Sessions School Reunion will be Nov. 7, 2009,” someone shouted over the friendly chatter. “Bring something that goes with chicken.”