It is wonderful how our teachers become our friends. Three who come to mind are Ms. Willie Mae Samuel, Mr. John Carruth, and Miss Frances Raines. My relationship with them has made the transition from teacher to friend.

A high school English teacher

I talk to Ms. Willie Mae Samuel every so often on the phone. She was my English teacher at East Rome when I was in the 9th grade. At the beginning of the year, the 9th grade English teachers were tasked with teaching us the Alma Mater. I focused on memorizing all the words, knowing there would be a test. When I got my test paper back, I had a B. There were several misplaced commas. I felt very awkward when I realized I’d forgotten to pay attention to the punctuation.

Ms. Samuel did an excellent job teaching Charles Dickens’ book, “Tale of Two Cities.” She said, “What did we learn? There is good in the worst of us, and bad in the best of us.” I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Samuel’s class.

A high school band teacher

I was in the band all four years I was at East Rome. Mr. John Carruth was the band director. He inspired us. He knew how to get the very best from us. We delivered at practice, at competitions, at concerts, at football games and parades. We were disciplined and we worked hard. Mr. Carruth was always exceedingly proud of us.

Mr. Carruth frequently captivated us with his stories. Most of those stories involved teaching us the history of the music we were learning, or a place to which the band traveled. He made everything relevant. Everything was a teachable moment. When I get to see Rome High School’s Sound of the Seven Hills perform their halftime show, I am electrified. That sound! Wow! I am immediately catapulted right back to my days in the East Rome High School Gladiator Marching Band. I remember marching down that field, years ago at Baron Stadium, performing our halftime show. Thanks, Mr. Carruth for those great memories!

A junior high school math teacher

Miss Frances Raines taught math at East Rome Junior High School for many years. I was in Miss Raine’s homeroom, but not in her math class. I recently called Miss Raines and she said, “Come see me!” So one day, last week after work, I did. Miss Raines said, “Now, you are a paralegal and you work in Calhoun?” I said, “Yes ma’am. That‘s right.” Then she said, “The man who was minister at Calhoun First Baptist, for many years, has a son who is an attorney in Calhoun.” I said, “That’s right. Bert Vaughn’s son, Jesse Vaughn is the attorney for whom I work. I am Jesse’s paralegal.” During the hour-and-a-half I was in her home, Miss Raines and I laughed and shared some great stories. We talked about the East Rome 70’s Decade Reunion, which Miss Raines is really looking forward to. She is ecstatic that we’ll be at the old East Rome Junior High. I’m sure she will have fun seeing so many former students in the school where she taught years ago. She said, “We gotta have that reunion!” We thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Upon leaving, I told Miss Raines, “I’ll come over here again soon and annoy you.” She laughed and said, “I would like that very much.”

Ms. Samuel, Miss Raines and Mr. Carruth have a genuine interest in all of their former students. They’re interested in how our lives are going, hearing about our families, and the careers in which we’re involved. These friends are a treasure. When they say to me, “Pam! How are you doing?” I know they sincerely want to know how I am. There is no question I will continue, on a regular basis, calling and visiting these sweet friends. What a blessing they are!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a writer, avid cyclist, history enthusiast and ardent reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at pamterrellwalker@gmail.com.

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