Ever so often I get my PAT book out to read it over again. When my brother, Pat, died the family was so grieved that Mama suggested we, family and friends write a book simply called PAT. It was our way of coping with our grief. Being at his cabin on Beaver Lake last week caused me to get the book out and read it again. In the book is something Pat wrote that I have used so many times when I write. It was written April 15, 1957. It was written after he had stood on Lover’s Leap (which is now Bell Park) and looked across the valley toward the town where he had grown up. A town he still loved.
FOND MEMORIES OF GREENWOOD By Pat Bolin
“I suppose that the grandest time in any person’s life would just about have to be those days of adolescence. I have relived the experiences of my boyhood hundreds of times and each time deleting from my memories all the unpleasantries until today they are one magnificent panorama of people, places and events.
I am glad that Greenwood is my hometown. I am proud to have graduated from the Greenwood High School but above all I am so pleased to have known so many of her people. The men and women, boys and girls that manifest all the quality of greatness as I understand and appreciate them. Some of these people are still in Greenwood, some have moved away and some are gone forever. How happy I am to have captured at least a part of each of their lives in my memories.
Greenwood, how proud you must be to have so many of your sons and daughters raise themselves above the ordinary and distinguish themselves in the ranks of excellent. You have no cause to remember me. I was just one of the many boys that played in Heartsill Creek and searched the hills for fun and adventure but I cannot forget you.
I remember the steam whistles of your coal mines and the hardy men with their aluminum dinner pails on the way to the bottom of the pits, some never to return. I remember the cotton gin, the railroads and the teams and wagons tied around the town square. The ice man, the milk cows, the gardens, the chickens and the outdoor privies. Your schools, your churches with their summertime outdoor revivals.
Yes, Greenwood, I remember a lot about you but the greatest pleasure of all is the memory of your people. “God shed his grace on thee”. With the likes of Miss Louise Harvell, my first grade teacher. The late C. B. Smith, the greatest builder of character in boys and girls I have ever known. Men like Dr. C. W. Hall, Halton Stewart, Grady Robinson, John Cowne, Bub Richards and George Johnson. Great families like the Dawsons, the Bells, Beens, Maestries, Joyces and Kennedys and the list goes on and on.
Not long ago, as I stood on top of Lover’s Leap and looked south at the valley below, I saw a preface to my life. My emotions were a combination of thrills and acute nostalgia as memories of my boyhood raced about in my mind.
For more than forty years I have tried to know myself but that determination, like the elusive shadow, seemed to be just beyong my reach. As I stood there soaking up the sunshine and the serenity, the thought came to me that I am nothing more than a conglomerate of small bits and pieces of people, places and events of the past. I walked away rather pleased thinking that I might possibly be representative in some small way of the character of the people of Greenwood both living and dead.”
Every time I read this I cannot hold back the tears. I love Greenwood, the happy memories of my childhood. The memories of people who were part of my life. I think that is the reason I love going to Bell Park. As I, too, looked across the valley it brings back so many memories. One time I told the late Kerlmit McNabb that I just loved a certain person. His reply, “Have you ever told them?” I said, “No”. He said, “Tell them instead of me. Always tell people how you feel.” I have tried to follow his advice. It makes me feel better and I hope they feel better, too.