Liza Morgan: Memories of Smithville close to my heart

May 5, 2011 11:49:00 AM

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A man travels the world over searching for what he needs, then travels home to find it..... 

 

I''m writing this on my phone, running on very little sleep & little light...please excuse.. 

 

It was around 1986 & I was mortified. For those that know me well, you realize the rarity. Ozell had been charged three cents too much for a gallon of milk at "the Pig." She realized the "mistake" just as I''d taken a step outside. The next few moments are a blur - I tried to reach the blue tank (her Oldsmobile) before she ripped into the poor cashier ( I believe it was Lori Spann, to whom I''m never apologized - Lori, so sorry.) but couldn''t outrun Ozell''s eight-foot wingspan. I was pulled back inside where I had to endure a tongue lashing that, I think, must rival Chinese water torture. 

 

To an unknowing bystander, the notion that all involved had maliciously plotted this travesty of justice against my grandmother for months would have seemed the only logical explanation for what was witnessed. Our departure left two in tears, but certainly not before Ozell''s three cents were refunded. I tried today to find that building. I found only ruins.... 

 

My soon-to-be aunt, Janet, had sent me a letter from New York - on pink stationary. To a third-grader excitedly anticipating my first trip to The Big Apple, that letter couldn''t have been any more valuable had it been the Holy Grail. I wrote her back & insisted on hand delivering that letter to Mr. Carroll at the post office. I searched today for those glass doors that had already survived several of our beloved residents driving. I found only bricks.... 

 

I spilled red fingernail polish on Aunt Tina''s floor & wiped it up with her new (Jordash?) jeans..I pulled the heads off her Barbies... I rode for miles on Uncle Tommy''s shoulders through the pecan orchard, stopping to snack on a pecan or two. Today, I desperately combed the leveled landscape for that orchard. There were no pecans... 

 

I finally went to Papa Morgan''s grave, after Mr. Moffett''s funeral. It was raining, I think. Papa had been gone several years before the day I finally visited. This afternoon, I stood where I thought the ancient tree that had witnessed so many tears had been, longing to find an upright headstone. I found pieces of granite.... 

 

I said good-bye to so many important people, sitting in the pews of Smithville Baptist...Lee, Mama, Angie, just three of the many...I worshiped alongside many & sang with an outstanding choir...I dedicated my daughter...I asked forgiveness for things I regret & gave thanks for things I didn''t deserve on my knees at the alter...I searched in vain for those hallowed walls today. I knelt, not on a carpeted alter, but on a debris-strewn patch of concrete.... 

 

I cheered on three state-bound football teams in ticker tape parades down Main Street...played my little flute & twirled my flag in countless Rod Brasfield parades... This is where my trip ends. I can''t even begin to recount the 12 years I spent at Smithville School...where my grandparents, parents, brother & daughter were molded into the people they are today...where i met some of my best friends...where i lost others...I''m not that strong - yet. Today, as I stood where we''ve all stood, cheering at the top of our lungs, I strained to hear that Seminole Pride....and I did. 

 

Liza Morgan, Smithville High School - Class of 1995