Birthdays – a time to reminisce

Published 7:14 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shortly after lunchtime today (Tuesday) the annual clock within these old bones will strike another year.

June 22, 1953 at approximately 2:15 p.m., Blanche Joyner Bryant gave birth to her first son, a baby that she and her husband, Hinton Rayford (Ray) Bryant, name in honor of one of the father’s World War II comrades.

Now, nearly six full decades later and minus the two people responsible for bringing him into this world, that individual ushers in his 57th year on Earth.

Where did the time go? One minute I’m riding my trusty Western Flyer bicycle to Vacation Bible School at Ashley’s Grove Baptist Church; next I’m in Elizabeth City marrying the love of my life; and the next penning yet another column for Roanoke-Chowan Publications.

When we were all much younger, birthdays were a time of celebration. Now they’re a time to reflect.

After much deliberated thought, I’ve come up with the 10 most memorable moments in my life. I could have 20…or 30…or more, but the limited space in this column will not allow for those inclusions.

So, if you’ll afford this old man a brief time to reflect, here’s my Top-10:

Number 10: June 22, 1969 – my father drives me to Rich Square where I ace the written and road tests to earn the prize most coveted by any young person – a driver’s license.

Number 9: The Summer of 1967 – While playing with my buddies on piles of dirt in front of the Ashley’s Grove Clubhouse, then under construction, I stepped on a broken Pepsi bottle and cut my left foot nearly to the tendon. It takes 10 stitches to close and I’m done for the summer…no baseball, no nothing; what a bummer!

Number 8: June 22, 1993 – In celebration of my 40th birthday, my wife and I, after years of renting places to live, finally take the plunge and purchase, to date, our first and only home.

Number 7: April 4, 1983 – Lorenzo Charles leaps and snares Derreck Whittenburg’s desperation shot and slams it home at the final buzzer…the glass slipper fits as the “Cardiac Pack” stuns heavily favored Houston, 54-52, to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. We partied all night long on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh!

Number 6: May 5, 1999 – I lost a brother today. Not a blood brother, but a brother just the same. Robert E. Vinson, my brother-in-law and one of the finest men I’ve ever known, lost his long battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

(Tie) Number 5 and Number 4: June 21, 2004 and October 11, 2004 – Over a span of just 112 days, myself, my sister, Cindy, and my brother, Tommy, mourn the loss of our father and mother. They’re both in a much better place, but I (we) miss them each and every day.

Number 3: January 24, 2005 – After spending nearly 30 years in the business – starting at the bottom of the ladder as a part-time assistant in the offset camera room – that long climb upwards finally leads to the job of Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. It’s a job I still love today, despite 70-plus hour work weeks.

Number 2: August 4, 1979 – On what had to be the hottest day of the century, Deborah and I take the drive over to Elizabeth City where we tie the knot at a quaint little wedding chapel. Thanks, honey, for what soon will be the best 31 years of my life.

Number 1: July 21, 1985 – In the wee hours of early morning, Deborah gives birth to the most precious thing I’ve ever set my sights on – Danielle Rae Bryant. Even though Danielle is a woman now – soon celebrating her 25th birthday – she will always remain Daddy’s little girl!

Memories – some sweet, some bitter – serve as the best birthday present.

(Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.)