Jeez, Sidney did have hair

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

There it was in living black-and-white, hanging on a string for all the world to see….Sidney Joyner, complete with a head of hair.

That was just one of the many memories I was left with following an event this past Saturday in Woodland.

By the hundreds they came, some showing the signs of aging (including this crusty old soul), others looking as fresh as the day they roamed the halls, to the Woodland-Olney School reunion.

One nearly could not hear themselves think as the clatter of conversation dominated the Woodland National Guard Armory. Former classmates embraced each other's company, if only for just a few hours. But they turned out to be hours well-spent, catching-up on all the news worth sharing, trading photos of grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) and reminiscing about the good, old days within the halls of this historic Northampton County school.

My purpose there was two-fold: (1) to snap a few photos for this newspaper, and (2) to share in the festivities since I am a Woodland boy, attending the school from first through eighth grades before heading off to Northampton High.

Seeing all the friendly faces of home was delightful. Some I see almost on a daily basis, but for the majority, this type of event is the only time we get a chance to share each others company.

My days at Woodland-Olney are among my most treasured moments. It was there where young minds were developed properly. It was there that one was able to learn about discipline, respect for authority, self-esteem, values and, most importantly, learning to accept others for who they are.

It was at Woodland-Olney where I received my first black eye (from my best friend, Michael Barnes, no less) and stole my first kiss (the identity of that girl shall remain anonymous).

It was at Woodland-Olney where more than the Three R's were taught. It was there where many valuable lessons, ones destined to be used later in life, were learned.

My heart swells with pride each time I pass the school. It still proudly stands along US 258 (Main Street). Constructed in 1917, its four towering white columns set against two stories of red brick remain a sight to behold.

Today, the old Woodland-Olney School is used as senior citizen apartments. The classrooms serve as those apartments, but the school front remains intact, as do the nicely refinished floors and the old principal's office. A community room is now situated where the old auditorium once stood. That room is now the home to one of the school's old trophy cases. Those dulling pieces of hardware that sit inside the case each have a great story to tell about the athletic abilities once possessed by the famed blue-and-white Tigers and Tigerettes.

Seeing all those faces Saturday brought back a flood of memories. Those in charge of organizing the event, including my cousin, Mary Johnson Ledden, are to be commended for their efforts.

They put on one heck of an event, including recognizing "Miss Lib" Parker, the wife of the late George Parker who recently passed away after a lifetime of service to the school.

Several of the school's former teachers were also recognized. Included in that group was Carl Russell Britt of Milwaukee. He served as principal from 1962-64 and was assistant principal at Northampton High when I attended from 1967-1971.

In one touching moment, my late mother, Blanche Joyner Bryant, was recognized for her involvement on a committee that organized the first-ever all-school reunion back in 1990. I wish mom could have been there on Saturday. She truly loved that school.

And, by the way, Sidney Joyner, the advertising manager for this newspaper, hasn't changed all that much since his days at Woodland-Olney. He remains tall and slender, just like his basketball playing days where he served as captain of the team. The only thing missing is the center portion of his old crew cut.