If you have been following my blog for any time at all, you know that each year my wife and I take at least one trip to John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. If you haven’t, now you know. If you are not familiar with the Folk School, I highly recommend you check it out.
Last week was our chosen week. Regina was taking a glass bead making class, Shirley, Regina’s mom, was taking a jewelry making class, and I was taking a bluegrass banjo class. Incidentally, this was Shirley’s first trip to the Folk School, and she had a great time.
The first thing one does upon arrival on Sunday afternoon is go into the office to pick up your packet. This packet contains your name tag, the schedule of the week’s events, some advertisement from the craft shop, and a list of classes, complete with instructor’s name and the names of participants in each class.
I am always interested to see how many folks are attending from the great State of Texas. Lord knows we need all the advanced education we can get. I am also interested in seeing who will be in my class, and where they live.
Interestingly enough, there were only four people in my class, and two of us were from Texas. That, in itself was unusual. When I read the name of the other Texan in my class, his name sounded very familiar, but I just couldn’t remember where I had heard the name.
On Sunday evening, students and instructors gather in their studios for meet and greet, and possibly a short “start-up.” I identified the other man from Texas, and introduced myself. When asked, he said he lived in a community that is literally one mile from where I live. What are the odds? We were both astounded.
I still couldn’t place the name, and he was no help at all. So, we spent the week in class together, talking, laughing, and playing banjo. Don’t get discouraged, the best is yet to come.
At the Folk School, meals are served family style. Each table seats 8 people, and we try to vary our table selection, in order to meet a lot of different people. It is a lot of fun, and can be very interesting, and sometimes informative, as you delve into the lives of these strangers. Sometimes, you even form new and lasting friendships.
Finally, on Thursday, the other Texan suggested that since we lived so close together, it would be nice if Regina and I, and he and his wife could sit at the same table for the evening meal. We got together outside the dining hall and proceeded to secure a table together. The conversation was yielding some helpful information regarding each couple, and then the most unbelievable information surfaced.
The man had left the table to get some more iced tea. Regina and his wife were involved in some conversation that was outside of my concentration, when I heard his wife say, “He was born and raised in Lamesa.” Wait! What?
I have to fill you in on why the word Lamesa caught my attention. I spent my first three grades of public school in Lamesa. My first job after college was High School Choir director at, you guessed it, Lamesa High School.
Upon his return to the table, the conversation took on a whole new tone. It was quickly determined that my early years in Lamesa were while he was but a toddler, so we quickly went to the later years. When it dawned on him who I was, he took on a totally different demeanor. He sort of snapped to attention and queried, “MR. DALE?”
Yes, it is true. This man with whom I shared a delightful weeklong class of banjo, who lived within a mile of my house, and whose name sounded so familiar had, in fact, been a student of mine almost fifty years ago.
The excitement and hilarity of the discovery were soon dampened when he made some remark about how old I was when he was in my choir (22), and how much dark hair I had back then. You can probably imagine Regina’s reaction to those statements. I hope I gave him a bad grade.