It has been my great fortune to come from a gene pool predisposed to dissolving into gales of laughter over the least little thing. My father, C.H. to you, is always ready with a joke or some smart remark that can break up the most serious of meetings. It’s a gift or a curse, depending upon one’s point of view.
Last weekend, C.H. was sharing with us one of his many stories from life in old Winder. He and my uncle Sells were both graduates of the old Winder High School that stood on the corner of Athens and Church Streets in Winder. The building burned a couple of years after Daddy’s 1937 graduation.
Funny thing, the old Winder-Barrow High School building on Bellview burned in November after I graduated in 1972. Daddy’s the youngest in his generation. I’m the youngest in mine. Wanda Creel is probably very thankful there are no more Arnold children in the Barrow County School System, but I’m hopping off onto a bunny trail.
Back in Daddy’s day, Herrin’s Drug Store was on the corner of Broad and Athens across from the Granite Hotel. Daddy jerked sodas before and after school at Dr. Herrin’s fountain and often stayed until the store closed around ten at night.
Several of the single men teachers and some local businessmen lived at the hotel and at Mrs. Jackson’s boarding house in the beautiful white Greek Revival on the corner of Candler at Woodlawn. Daddy’s teacher, Mr. Burger, lived at Mrs. Jackson’s along with Frank Florence and some others.
In those days, the community was much tighter. Daddy’s family went to church with some of his teachers and since my grandfather was the Assistant Postmaster, they all knew each other.
When Daddy had to work late at Herrin’s, he had permission from my grandparents to spend the night with these gentlemen who were upstanding members of the community and known to be of good repute.
That was really a nice gesture since it would keep Daddy from having to travel so far after Herrin’s had closed for the night. After all, it was a right smart piece for Daddy to have to walk in the ice and snow from Herrin’s to the family home on Stephens Street… Wanting to make sure they had appropriate entertainment for young Haase when he arrived from the workday, the men kept a repertoire of games blackjack,craps,poker. You know, something to while away the empty hours and keep their ciphering skills honed. It would be good training for their protégé.
Shootin’ craps with your math teacher, though, was a bit of a double edged sword. Take, for instance, the day C.H. was sitting in Mr. Burger’s class and got tickled over something.
Have you ever had that happen? Something so non-descript it isn’t consciously acknowledged suddenly strikes you as funny – and you cannot stop laughing. A snicker becomes a giggle that turns into a chuckle before an outright guffaw morphs into side-splitting-can’t-get-yourbreath peals of laughter.
“Haase, what’s the matter with you?” Mr. Burger inquired.
“I – don’t – know” C.H. managed to get out between laughs.
“Well, take it out in the hall then.”
So C.H. went into the hall where his laughter became uncontrollable.
The principal’s office was just across the hall from Mr. Burger’s room. When he heard someone being disruptive in the hall, Mr. Wilson emerged from his office to investigate.
“Oh, it’s you, Haase.” Evidently, Mr. Wilson was used to seeing Daddy in the hall. “What’s the matter with you?”
“I can’t quit laughing so Mr. Burger sent me out here,” was the reply from behind the red face with tears streaming.
“What’s so funny?”
“I don’t know, but I can’t quit laughing.”
When Mr. Burger walked to the door to prepare for classes to change, he found C.H. and Mr. Wilson both doubled over in the hall. Neither of them knew what was funny, but they couldn’t stop laughing about it.
The more you laugh, the more you’re gonna laugh. Mr. Burger started laughing at the other two laughing. Then the students changing classes started laughing. And nobody knew why.
My grandparents always wondered why my father got Bs in deportment. His Sunday School class gave him a Christmas stocking full of sticks to recognize his contributions to the group. Some things just never change.
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.