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TRUE FRIENDSHIP - September 7, 2006

“One of the compensations of true friendship is that people who are truly congenial, don’t drift apart . . . If you have traveled much you know about this . . . each place you have lived there will rise to the surface a few people who will remain close.

And though time and distance reduce your contacts to once or twice a year, you will find yourselves picking up the threads of friendship just where you left off. What united you in the first place was something beyond place or circumstance.”

                   --from “Love and Laughter,” by Marjorie Holmes

This happened to me last week! I visited Joanne and Ross Perry in Lewisburg and the minute I got in the door, Joanne and I sat down for a cup of tea and started an endless chain of talking. We met in the fall of 1965 when Ross came to town as production manager for Rubber Fabricators. We were both young parents and were willing to work for advantages for our children and our town. We helped organize the J.O.Y. Circle and a kindergarten at First Baptist Church. We also belonged to the Civic Club. Ross was a charter member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Grantsville and was a deacon at the church. He was transferred to Monroe County in the fall of 1965, and the family moved to Lewisburg.

They have retired in Green-brier County where Ross is a starter at the Sporting Club and Joanne is a Welcome Wagon hostess. They are active in First Baptist Church of Fairlea. Their daughter, Julia, died in 1998 and their son, Stuart, lives near White Sulphur Springs with his family.

When they first came to Grantsville, they lived on Rt. 5 in Gilmer County. At that time, it was a long distance call between counties. The telephone operator in Grantsville was very helpful when Joanne had to contact her husband in a hurry. She could see all over town from her office and was helpful in time of need.

We visited Clinton and Joan Foster while in Lewisburg. Clinton was band director from 1955-1960. He was originally from Nitro, and a graduate of Marshall.

He retired in Warren, Ohio, after 31 years of teaching. His wife was a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkersburg, and, after moving to Grantsville, traveled back for another year as an instructor. She joined the staff at Calhoun General Hospital, when it opened in October of 1959.

Two of their four children were born during the Grantsville stay. Leslie, a pharmacist, and Greg, a steelworker and musician, live in Warren. Jeff is a radiologist at University of Wisconsin and Stacie is a nurse in Raleigh, N.C. They have three grandchildren: Calvin and Maddy are Jeff’s teenagers, and Katey, daughter of Leslie, is earning an MS in psychology at University of Akron.

They also had a phone story to relate. The band was planning to play for the inauguration of Cecil Underwood in Charleston. The night before, a big snow occurred and the roads were impassable. Clinton started calling his students to let them know that the trip was canceled. He contacted most of the students, and the operator knew how to get in touch with neighbors of the other band members. All students were contacted, except one from the Arnoldsburg area. The student, Jack McCollum, showed up at his door the next morning. His father had brought him through the snowstorm.

The Fosters had another snowstorm story to tell.

They were on their way home from Elizabeth and got as far as the Creston ferry. The blinding snow limited their vision and they ended up in a cornfield, looking over a bank at the ferry. The ferryman called to them and told them the ferry was closed for the night. When asked what they should do, he told them they needed to turn around and return to Elizabeth and go over the hills to Grantsville. Joan was pregnant and they had a one-year-old son with them and only one bottle of milk. It was a harrowing night!

Clinton remembers the face of every student. It may take a little memory jogging to put a name with the face, but it will eventually come back. He also remembers many of the parents who chaperoned band camp and other events.

They are not traveling much now, because Joan is recovering from hip surgery. Former students are invited to get in touch with Clinton at clint614@citynet.net.

The Perrys and Fosters have many good memories of their time in Calhoun County, remembering the kindness and hospitality of the people. Both couples hope to return in the near future for a visit with old friends.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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