On Nov. 30, 2017, Scotty Hancock comes home to find a delivered package — a book he purchased from a stranger on eBay.
He's excited to show the book to his son. But when he turns to the first page, the name there staggers him. It's his own. And it's in his writing.
The year is 1986. It's Scotty Hancock's birthday and the Pepperell High student has decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. He is only 17 and his parents have to sign papers giving him permission to enlist.
He leaves his home in Lindale on Aug. 11, 1987, for basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It's the first time he's been this far from home.
For eight weeks Scotty endures the rigors of basic training.
"It was intense," he said. "But I learned so much and I grew so much from it."
He learns to fire an M16 for the first time and how to throw a grenade. He learns combat training, radio communication and a variety of other skills he'll need in the Army.
And he also learns about discipline and hard work and self control. He meets new people and learns about the places they come from and about their culture.
He makes friends and, though the training is tough and his drill sergeants are tougher, he still has great memories from his stay at Fort Knox. Many of those memories are captured in photos and writing in a yearbook he receives at graduation.
Scotty returns to Lindale and before heading out for advance training and being stationed in Hawaii, he leaves the yearbook in the care of his mother.
The book fades from his memory. It's now 2017. Scotty's days in the Army are behind him and he's a family man now with a loving wife and two children. He also happens to be a county commissioner. His 12-year-old son has been asking about his early days in the Army and it brings to mind a book he once owned that showed all the things he did to prepare for the military.
"I remember the book having all these photos of the cool things I did and the training we had to go through," Scotty said. "I wanted to show my son some of the crazy things his old man did in basic. But then I realized I hadn't seen it since I brought it home in 1987. I really wanted to show my son that book, but I didn't know where it was. I looked all over the place. I asked my mom but she had no idea what she did with it."
Having searched everywhere and realizing that his mother may have given his book away, or donated it or even thrown it away, Scotty realizes he'll have to look for a similar book online. He searches for the yearbook's printer and finds the company, but can't find the book from the year he was in basic training.
Then a simple Google search leads to an eBay listing for a yearbook from 1987 — just what he's looking for. From the photo in the eBay listing, Scotty knows that's the book he wants and buys it for $20.
The book arrives on Nov. 30 and Scotty smiles as he sees the cover. It brings back lots of memories. When he opens the cover, however, he realizes immediately that there's something very strange about this book.
"It had my name written right there on the first page," he said. "It said 'Scotty E. Hancock' and right at first I thought 'This guy I bought it from saw my picture inside and wrote my name to be nice.' But then my wife said 'Scotty, that's YOUR writing.'"
He realizes that it is his writing. And suddenly it dawns on him. This is his book. Not just one from his graduation year, but the book he owned. The pages confirm this. Writing covers the inside pages — messages from his buddies in basic training.
Scotty can't believe his luck.
It turns out that the person he bought it from got the book from a book store in Columbus.
"My mother or sister must have sold it or it got caught up in books that were donated," Scotty said.
Whatever its journey, it's clear that Scotty Hancock was meant to have this book. He smiles when reading the handwritten messages it contains and grimaces when he remembers the grueling hours of basic training. But he wouldn't trade any of it for the world.
"These were some of the best days of my life," he says as he points to the photos in the book. "They were hard but they changed me for the better. They taught me so much about myself and the world outside Lindale and about people. This was a time when I needed structure in my life. These experiences, and the love of a good wife, have made me the man I am today."
The effort to restore the lone building still standing at the old Fairview- E.B. Brown school site in Cave Spring got a huge boost of adrenalin Friday as Wes Walraven and Brian Moore pledged $75,000 to the project and challenged close to a 100 other community leaders to pledge another $100,000 by the end of August.
Walraven hosted a group of Floyd county movers and shakers at the Lyons Bridge Farm estate southeast of Cave Spring on Friday, where he announced the pledge and community challenge. Then visitors toured the school site where a 1945 first-grade classroom building is the only building still standing on the campus that was built to provide a quality education for African-American children of the area.
Joyce Perdue-Smith, chairwoman of the Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp., told the group the school was "the joy and the heart of the African- American community." She told the group at the Walraven farm that the state of Georgia was now committed to restoring many old African-American historical sites, and the school in Cave Spring has been included in the list.
Perdue- Smith said her nonprofit organization has estimated the cost of preserving and rehabilitating the building at $200,000.
"This is something that is really important to us," Walraven said.
The historic school site is across Padlock Mountain Road from the original Georgia School for the Deaf property in Cave Spring.
During the tour of the school property, Megan Watters, Rome, asked architect Joe Smith from Madison, if he thought the building was even up to the project. "Oh, yes," Smith said. "But it will be a stick-by-stick erector set of rehabilitation."
Nothing but a chimney remains of the old Rosenwald school building, which was built on the site in 1924 and was the only building on the campus for 20 years. Julius Rosenwald was a partowner and leader of the Sears & Roebuck Corp. based in Chicago. He created a fund which helped finance the construction of nearly 4,000 school buildings for African- American children.
The first-grade building was constructed in 1945, and two more classroom buildings were added in 1946 and 1947. However, a few scattered bricks are all that remain of those buildings.
Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp. was recognized by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015 for its efforts to restore the school.
People interested in helping round out the fundraising campaign can send checks to the Fairview-E.S. Brown Heritage Corp., 3 Central Plaza-Box 147, Rome, GA 30161.
A number of holiday events are taking place today, providing a host of options for those looking for a little extra Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Lindale 2017, put on by Restoration Lindale Inc., is also happening today. The Christmas parade will kick off the event at 3 p.m. Lineup for the parade is at Pepperell Primary School, 1 Dragon Drive, and will start at 2:30 p.m.
Following the parade, a star-lighting ceremony of the Lindale star will be held at the Gilbreath Recreation Center from 4-6 p.m. There will be chorus groups from Pepperell schools and the First Baptist Church of Lindale performing. Vendors will be set up at the Gilbreath Center from 3-6 p.m.
The sixth annual Winter Art Market, hosted by the Rome-Floyd Visitors Center, will take place today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Rome Civic Center on Jackson Hill. The event will also take place Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The market aims at celebrating the work of Georgia artists, crafters and growers. There will be an expanded collection of gifts, foods, outdoor/indoor decor, jewelry, pottery, paintings, photography, signs, clothing, wood working, glass and more, the market will provide one-ofa-kind holiday gifts.
The Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority is hosting its Santa in the Cave event today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rolater Park, 13 Old Cedartown Road. It will happen again Sunday with the same hours.
The event is part of Small Town Christmas in the Country, which will fill the park in downtown Cave Spring with vendors. Admission is $5.
The annual Lessons and Carols service from the Berry College Choir will take place at 7 p.m. today in the college chapel on the Berry's campus, 2277 Martha Berry Highway. The event is free and open to the public.
The service draws upon the traditions of the lessons and carols services of England and will feature traditional scripture readings paired with renaissance motets (music), new compositions and familiar carols. Berry's Student Government Association will host a brief reception afterward with light refreshments.
A helping hand
Third Street Ministries will be distributing free winter clothing for women and men today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in back of the Good Neighbor Ministries building in the parking lot of Rome First United Methodist Church, 202 E. Third Ave.
Rolater Park will also play host to the 11th annual Community Christmas Singing Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Old Baptist Church. The event is put on by the Cave Spring Historical Society. Admission is free, with refreshments and fellowship to follow the singing.
The media center at Anna K. Davie Elementary was rocking Friday morning, as motivational speaker Justin Tutt inspired students with chants of encouragement during a workshop.
The 2008 Rome High graduate, who is now based out of Chicago, is the founder of the nonprofit Kutz4Kids Inc., which aims to uplift the younger generation with a message focused on the empowerment of oneself by finding individuality.
Principal Clifton Nicholson said there have been some challenges with students. He wanted to bring Tutt in to be a fresh and different voice in sharing the message teachers and administrators impart on students regularly: To end bullying, to teach respect for adults, and to value their education.
"I got one rule and one rule only, respect," Tutt told students to quiet them down while he spoke.
But they weren't quiet for long, as Tutt prompted them to sing back to him the lyrics of a song he taught them during a previous appearance.
"Making fun of me shows weakness in you," he would speak into the microphone and students would shout it back to him. "We are all different that's what makes us true. I be me and you be you."
It's amazing to come back to his hometown and instill in kids what he feels is greatly needed in their lives — a self-realization in knowing they can achieve their dreams, Tutt said. This comes from acknowledging the power each of them has within when they accept themselves as individuals.
"You have to be comfortable with being yourself," he told students, many of whom come from the same environment he did that has a shortage of positive male leadership.
Tutt warned students of the consequences of being controlled by what others think of them, none more so than the loss of their own identity through a myopic focus on trying to be cool.
The Man in the Black Chucks is a name Tutt has earned from his choice of shoes, a worn-out pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars, which he said reflects his own life and the challenges he has overcome as an individual.
Friday's program was an exercise in group motivation. During one segment, Tutt called sixthgrader Ladarius Summerour up to his interview setting, a pair of chairs angled at each other. Summerour was asked if he was powerful and he adamantly replied, "Yes sir."
Following the interview, Tutt called on him to see just how powerful he really is. Summerour would shout at the crowd, "I am powerful," to which fellow students would reassert with a resounding, "You are powerful."
Students then gave their definitions of powerful; examples given were respect, confidence and self-esteem. But being powerful doesn't simply come from words but from action, Tutt said. He called on students to hold each other accountable, ensuring they take action to be the best they can be.
However, the attempt to be the best isn't mistake-free, Tutt said.
"Nothing about me is perfect," he said, adding that he got in fights, he failed tests and overall he made a slew of mistakes.
His mistakes, thoughts and reflections are logged in his journal, which can be a tool for self-examination and the exploration of ideas. Each student was given a journal at the end of the program and instructed to write in it each day for 30 days, a process he said would change their lives as it did his.
Today's artwork is by Mary Burke Smith, a fifthgrader at East Central Elementary School.