As I’ve said before I really like Mark Twain and I could really empathize with him and with his now famous quote that depending on who you ask went something like this, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”….I always thought that was a funny line but never more than today when I went to the reunion at the “Y” for folks from the Mill Village.
The reunion was just like I thought it’d be, lots of fun. Lots of reminiscing, great stories, lots of happy faces and enough good food to feed most of the football players and coaches in the SEC….:-) Some of the faces I knew but didn’t know the names to put with them but even as “shy” as I usually am I made it my business to ask who they were and introduce myself. I usually introduce myself like this, “I’m Ralph Daniels brother”…That way if they don’t remember me or if they do and didn’t care for me much back when and might not even now, well everybody liked Ralph cause he was such a good basketball player. Of course I’m 62 years old now and I’m still using my brother’s accomplishments as a coverup for my past let us say “shortcomings” and I know fellow gardeners that it’s kinda childish to do it but I also know it works……:-)
Anyways I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in awhile and some of them I hadn’t seen since I used to see them walk in and out of the mill years ago…Some folks I met today I’d heard about from stories about the Mill or the Mill Village from other folks but hadn’t met them personally before and it was nice to meet them now and put faces with stories. As usual I met some folks that even if I didn’t know they’re names, I knew what of kind of car they used to drive 30, 40, even 50 years ago. You see I may forget a face, I forget a name, but I never forget a car, which might seem unbelievable to some of you fellow gardeners, it certainly puzzled some of the folks whose cars I remembered but had to admit I’d completely forgotten their names…..:-)
I saw Charlene Glover, one of my favorite teachers who was the Master of Ceremonies of sorts today and called us all to attention to listen to Jimmy Marshall sing a song about the Mill and the Mill Village he wrote especially for the reunion. Now Charlene Glover did something I hadn’t seen her do in years and it tickled me to no end when she did it. She wanted quiet, she wanted our attention and buddy she got it…She didn’t even need to use a paddle which Derrick Evans suggested that she use if she felt she needed it to get our “attention”. It was like being in her class again after all these years, I tell you what it was fellow gardeners, it was a sure nuff treat for me…..
Well Jimmy’s song was just great and Jimmy has a great voice. He’s got a voice that’s just right for the kind of songs he sings and that’s a wonderful thing for a musician to have I think…..And Jimmy is not just a singer but a song writer, a musician and more than that he’s an entertainer, entertains folks when he plays and sings and entertains them just when he’s being Jimmy…
Oh and I finally met Jim Simmons. He lived not a block from the mill and I know where he lived cause every time we drove by his house when I was a young man my granny would always say, “that’s where Jim Simmons lives” He played football at the University of Alabama which around here is just about as good as being the first man to step foot on the moon but when you play for the University of Alabama nobody forgets your name, nobody. Can you name the first man who stepped foot on the moon? See what I mean?…..:-) I told him I saw him play football when he was in high school. My uncle used to take me to what they called the Turkey Bowl. A high school championship game that Piedmont played in regularly when they had players the likes of Jim Simmons, Thomas Bible and Carlton Rankin….I didn’t even feel weird going up to Mr. Simmons and introducing myself and telling him about seeing him play all them years ago with my Uncle and how much I had always admired him, you see my granny would have been as proud of me for doing that, as proud as she was of Jim Simmons for being such a great football player and fine young man. He thanked me for coming over and telling him about seeing him play in the championship game and I started to thank him for not asking me if was Ralph Daniels brother but decided to leave well enough alone……..:-)
I saw some other folks I knew, C.T. Mobley. I always tell folks that C.T. is the only man I ever knew that was smiling every time I ever saw him and he didn’t disappoint me today either, he was smiling from ear to ear. I never in my whole life saw such a happy man.
I was sitting and drinking some sweet ice tea when I overheard somebody ask what “Meatball’s” name was, his first name. Every one in Piedmont knows his nickname and his last name too I reckon but only a “special few” know his real name and I was proud to interrupt and tell them I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation but “Meatball’s” real name was Terry……:-) I felt like I’d just told somebody I knew Minnesota Fats by his first name (One of the great pool players of all time) or the Cincinnati Kid (One of the best fictional stud card players of all time) by his first name cause for me “Meatball” really was the Minnesota Fats and the Cincinnati Kid all rolled into one, well one “Meatball”……:-)
Like I said before it was a lot of fun and Linda and I had a great time. I heard all about the whistle at the mill and I finally found out what the “dog wagon” was, it was the food cart of sorts that went around on every shift at a certain time that had sandwiches, fresh sandwiches made right here in town. Not sandwiches in a machine that had enough preservatives in them to keep Pharaoh Ramses 3,000 year old mummified body looking like Brad Pitt’s does today….:-) Oh before I forget it let me tell you about the “reports of my death being greatly exaggerated”….:-)
Now I met somebody else who I’d not seen in a long time, someone I always loved dearly cause she was so sweet and kind. And because she was always so sweet and kind and I ain’t going to embarrass her here by telling you her name. Now what I’m going to tell you might or might not embarrass her but I ain’t taking no chances. I’ll tell anything on myself but I’d hate to tell something on somebody else and embarrass them. As for me? Well with the life I’ve led, I’m beyond embarrassment…..:-) So here goes.
I start talking to her and I get the feeling that she either doesn’t know exactly who I am or if she does she ain’t sure its me cause she thinks I’m DEAD…..:-) She said as much to me cause she said, “It wasn’t your brother Paul who died?”….:-) Well right away I see she thinks I’m Ralph and that Paul which is me is now dead and even more than dead I’m deceased…..:-) Well she says she was sorry she didn’t know who I was exactly but I could tell she was still not sure if I was Paul cause she still thought I, Paul (me) was dead. Finally I asked her jokingly if she was disappointed that I was still alive and when I did she laughed so hard I just figured everything was OK no matter what she thought or who she thought I was……Dead or Alive……:-) But it was still nice to know that the “reports of my death had been greatly exaggerated”……:-)
Next year they’re going to have another reunion and I hope we get invited to that one too….and this time I wish our Master of Ceremonies, Mrs.Charlene Glover, will just get our attention, quiet us all down and pass the microphone around to every person that wants to share either something they liked the most about the Mill or the Mill Village or maybe something they miss the most or something that meant the most to them, either about the mill, the Mill Village or any of the nice folks who lived around there or worked there. That would be a real treat….
And I’ll be there fellow gardeners, cause it was a great time seeing everyone today and it’ll even better next year I bet. I’ll be there. I’ll be there no matter how exaggerated the reports of my death are……Why I might even show up as my brother Ralph…..:-)
Paul From Alabama