Photo credit: Ronda Fleming Pounds
Columnist John Moore went home 40 years after high school graduation to do a book signing. He was worried no one would attend. He was wrong. Even Spiderman showed up.
Of all the buildings on my high school campus, there was only one in which I’d never entered. That was home economics.
In the 1970s, guys didn’t take home ec. We took football, track, and other manly electives. Home economics was for girls.
But on this day, nearly 40 years after I had walked the stage to receive my high school diploma, I would spend three hours in the home ec building.
Only, it wasn’t the home ec building anymore. Nor was the high school still the high school.
The halls I had walked to go from class to class were no longer walked by students. Just administrators.
The high school is now used as offices by the school district, and the home ec building is run by the alumni association and used for school-related events.
The event on this day was for me.
When I was invited to come home to do a book signing for the two I’ve written, the humility with which I was raised kicked in. My first thought was that my friends would consider me pompous for doing such a thing.
There was also a bit of reticence because – what if no one showed up?
But, if you’re going to do the speaking and book-signing circuits, you accept invitations when they come.
My wife and youngest son joined me for the trip back to Ashdown, Arkansas. We arrived at the former home ec building and carried boxes of books in to set out on the table.
I looked at the clock on the wall. Forty minutes until show time.
Glancing out the window, I could see the scoreboard from the football field sticking up above the old journalism room. I was a photographer for the high school newspaper and annual in journalism class.
I remembered when I was quite young, men would stand on the roof of the journalism department during football games to retrieve footballs that were kicked out of the stadium and landed on the building.
Real estate was at a premium, so the end of the field abutted the building. Footballs were also at a premium. So the men would throw them back on the field so the teams could keep playing.
My eyes moved to a main hall that is the length of the building that used to contain my old algebra and English classes.
They were empty, but in my mind I could see a young me walking alongside my friends as we ventured to the next place on our schedules.
My Apple Watch alarm went off. Fifteen minutes until show time. I glanced towards the home ec door and people were walking in. Early. That was a good sign.
The next few hours were a blur.
My fears of no one showing up were unfounded. I spent a good part of the day with lots of family, classmates, old friends, former fellow church members, and coworkers. I also met new folks.
The home ec building was full. Not just with people, but with conversations and good memories.
There were those who were noticeably absent. Not because they did not want to be there, but because they are no longer with us.
My classmates brought their grandkids. They were now the ones roaming the halls of the new high school one street over.
The torch had been passed. Not once, but twice since I had been a student there.
I was hugging, chatting with, and catching up with people who shaped me. Especially my mother, who has guided and backed me every step of my life.
God is good.
I shouldn’t have worried that no one would want to buy or have me sign my books.
There was one thing I’d forgotten. Small towns support and nurture their own. Even forty years later.
They eventually even let you go into the home ec building.
©2020 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, and his new book, Write of Passage Volume II, are available on Amazon and on John’s website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.