"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." [Jesse Stuart]


By: TANYA KIRKPATRICK, Editor, Twiggs Times New Era

May 30, 2103
AlphaSkills, Inc. has truly been in the spotlight for the past couple of months.
First, the company, founded in Twiggs County by Fleming and Sarah Beck Hawthorne, was highlighted as the "Business of the Month" during the Twiggs County Chamber of Commerce meeting in April. Then, on May 6th in Atlanta, Dr. Sarah Hawthorne received the "Education Leadership Award" presented by Communities in Schools of Georgia.  

Celebrating its 15th year .......  read more

Summer 1958 - Fourth of July in Boston

Dr. Sarah Beck Hawthorne

When I was 15 years old, my mother and father worked very hard to provide the opportunity for me to attend the Baptist World Youth Alliance in Toronto, Canada. I joined about 40
other young people on a bus trip that allowed us to visit many wonderful sites traveling up through Kentucky, Detroit, and into Canada. On our return trip through New York and Washington, D.C., we were in Boston on July 4th.  Somehow, as we entered the city, our bus got mixed into a downtown parade that morning and we traveled through the town just like the floats draped in red, white, and blue. Being fun loving and silly teenagers, we hung our heads out the bus windows and sang "Dixie" loudly in this city of the northern states!

Later that evening, we all took blankets to the park and sat on the lawn as we listened to the Boston Pops July 4th Concert. Arthur Fiedler was the conductor but this little girl from Jeffersonville did not recognize his name. Neither did I realize at the time what an absolutely unique experience this was. However, each July 4th as we watch the Boston Pops on television, I can literally feel myself 15 again and singing along to all those patriotic songs. Goosebumps are felt as I remember standing to march in place to Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" as the flag was prominently lowered and displayed. Such a deep feeling of warm emotion to be an American! Another piece of beautiful music that I remember hearing during the concert that evening was Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue".  I do not remember having heard it previously but just a few notes can take me back to the Boston Pops Concert in the summer of 1958.




This essay by Jennifer Riemenschneider, daughter of Jeanie and Robert Schultz,  provides her thoughts, meditations, musings, on her trip to Twiggs County and the Class of ’60's 51st reunion.  While raising a family of 3 children, including a son who just graduated from high school, Jennifer recently completed 

her BA  degree in English, Language, and Literature at the University of Michigan, and is currently pursuing an MFA degree in Fiction Writing. Something tells me her visit to the county of her roots, might have been more than visiting family and exploring family roots. Could it have been to gather ideas for her first book?   

The TCHS Class of ’60 thanks you, Jennifer,  for sharing your talent, describing, among other thoughts,  observations on a gathering of your parents old school classmates. 

If you wish to comment or write,  Jennifer can be reached by email at  jenriem@sbcglobal.net   

May 2011
                                                                At RedHill

     I hadn’t been back to Georgia in over five years when I decided to take a road trip with my parents.  The drive down was both similar and different than it had been when I was a child, when we’d drive from Michigan to Georgia each August for our yearly visit.  For instance, the route was pretty much the same, but this time we stopped for a lot of bathroom breaks, a glaring difference from the days when we’d load up and hold it, stopping only for gas and a few fast meals.  Also, I didn’t have to share the backseat with anyone.  And I enjoyed every minute of being with my parents.  They seemed to relish being in the present, being with one another, being with me.  I had always labored under the misconception that as we age we become more focused on the past, unable or unwilling to turn toward the years in front.  Too, our road trip had been conceived as a means for me to get a better sense of my own family history, a past I had never been a part of but which claimed me nonetheless, and so I was particularly struck with how much focus there was on the here and now inside my father’s car.  Another thing:  even when we talked about the past—which we did because I fired off a steady barrage of questions—clearly the real enjoyment stemmed from how the stories were being told in the here and now.
      With this in mind, I was not surprised by the energy at the Twiggs County Class of 1960’s reunion.  When my father told me that we would be going to this reunion, I was struck by the fact that his classmates met every year, that this would not be a reunion with a nice round number, like forty or sixty, but instead the fifty-first.  In truth, before heading out on our road trip, I’d thought that the reunion evening would be full of melancholy, some trip down memory lane that revolved ever backwards, then back some more.  But then I found myself inside my father’s car, thirty-eight years old and the mother of three children, taking note of my parent’s handling of the past and present.  So I went to the reunion and found not melancholy, not an erasure of the present for the past, but instead noted how present and past worked in conjunction with one another.  The past became just one reason to bond in the present, while the present provided opportunity not to relive the past, but to revisit it.

     The cicadas were out that reunion evening in May as they had been for the duration of my stay in Georgia.  I thought this was a stroke of good luck.  After all, cicadas come out only once every thirteen years.  Maybe I saw it as a sign.  Or maybe I just liked the sound:  a thrumming that pressed forward endlessly, powerful, yet wistful too.  The cicada song came from both everywhere and nowhere, not traceable really, just there like the way sunlight can fill a room but cannot be held.  The cicadas spoke of processes, of insistence, of purpose, of survival.  I can’t help but be reminded of the cicadas when I think of that night at RedHill.  Just as the cicadas had a routine they stuck to, so too did the classmates of the Twiggs County Class of 1960 come together as they had year after year, the voices the same as they were fifty-one years ago, older and wiser sure, but with the same cadences, the same particulars, the same laughter, joining in the same place, at the same time, on the same day. 

     Everyone that went to “Twiggs” who was in attendance for the reunion that evening “came up” in Jeffersonville, spending all or a good part of their childhood walking shared ground, exploring the big woods, fishing rivers and creeks together, taking class “city” trips to Atlanta, sitting on one another’s porches, getting into trouble together, finding triumph together.  At RedHill, smoke billowed from the grills, drinks flowed, people rocked on rocking chairs.  The grass was dense and deep green, the night lowering steadily down, softly though, like the way the people wound through the yard and up and down the stairs, pausing to share a hug or a story, or to deliver news about travel, grandchildren, work.  I was folded immediately into the crowd in that way that’s particular to the South, with warmth and friendliness and affection.

     After spending the past year attending university in Michigan, an austere and, at times, barren environment, the air of ease, realness, and joy at RedHill served as a reminder of what I’d nearly forgotten existed—community.  I paid attention to what was said.  The whole road trip with my parents had been a sort of “study” in Jeffersonville, so I’d spent the past week in Georgia with an ear trained to listen.  True enough, during that reunion talk did sometimes tend to migrate toward blood pressure, cholesterol numbers, joints, bone mass, weight gain, sleep issues.  But what stood out were the recollections involving specifics from high school days, like the way somebody used to wear their hair, the way another person walked, or the way another person would avoid putting on their shoes until fall was well underway.  Overall there was a sense of deep happiness and camaraderie in the conversations I heard, plain old appreciation of being part of such a great bunch, each person sure to set aside that same evening in May—the first Saturday of the month—next year.  The roots were deep, the affection real.  Even when I heard people talking about fellow classmates who’d died, the word gone was never used.  Rather I heard the word lost, an apt and lovely way to describe death because while gone implies that a person is no longer, lost implies that surviving classmates will continue looking inside themselves for the memories that remain of the ones who’d died.

       The evening at RedHill was a testament, an experience that has grown since I’ve returned to Michigan, and while I ready myself to share a milestone with my son, who will graduate from high school in a few days.  He’s grown up in a world in which face to face conversation has become an increasing rarity.  And I am a mother who is genuinely concerned with how this will affect the sense of community, of friendship, the bonds we form with one another as human beings, and our collective sense of how important the past can be in terms of our own identity.  Perhaps I am an increasing rarity too, after all there have been times when I’ve sat in, say, a waiting room and have noticed the way that even the parents are hunched over their phones, invisible walls built in the silence of that room, arms and necks bent like something an architect might draw.  I see this sort of thing and I get worried.  Very worried.  I become a little overly hysterical even when I see how still sidewalks have become in the dead of summer when, “back in the day,” they were filled with children, myself included.  In fact, I might have hollered once or twice about the end of human connection as we know it, or about living in a world in which the intent behind words is invisible because the mouth saying the words cannot be seen through text and e-mail, or about how words themselves are being steadily reduced to jargon.  Okay.  So I guess I’m a little uber focused on the downward spiral of society, but some of this is due in part to the closed nature of my world.  I’ve been a student for years.  I’m also a very busy mother of three.  So I sometimes pick out the negative, worry about what’s wrong instead of focusing on what’s right, and I tend to stress about…everything.  Really, the world as we know it is changing, and it’s my children that will be going forward into the great blue-cathode yonder. 

       However, since I’ve been back from Georgia, I’ve begun to notice that my son has real connections with his friends.  Of course he does communicate via text a lot, but he’s also a part of a vibrant group of kids—smart, passionate, bonded.  Attending the reunion with my father gave me a healthy shot of hope, a window into the breadth of humanity, confirmation in the power of the human spirit, belief that maybe the heart, and all its constancy, will triumph over the anonymity and flashiness of the ever-changing models of this or that cell phone, I-Pod, computer.  The human heart is the same model its always been; maybe, then, that means that when all is said and done we humans will always rely on one another, we will never lose the need to come together, that the past will continue to be important as a way to keep roots in place, that gathering will always trump texting.  Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to remind us of what we mean to each other.  Twiggs County Class of 1960 is certainly extraordinary.

       Looking back, it seems that my son’s childhood has gone by in a blur and it’s true that time seems to go by faster than it ever has before now that the world is so busy. At RedHill I saw that clocks and calendars can be reminders of what little is left, or symbols to show you how much more remains.
                                                        Jennifer can be reached by email at  jenriem@sbcglobal.net  


Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne 

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