April 17, 2013

Photo of schoolchildren could be family treasure

I’ve had a natural curiosity since I was young. I was an explorer, wandering into the haymow, walking the fields and country roads. I still love adventures.

As a reporter and writer, I have to ask “who, what, why, when and how” in order to form a well-rounded informational news story or column. Research turned up the accompanying picture.

In November, I interviewed Charles and Eva Drown of Mooers. The Drowns were soon to celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary. A mutual friend informed me of the event, and I made an appointment for an interview.

After the first 10 minutes, I felt like we had known each other forever. After a few minutes at Eva’s kitchen table, I felt right at home, especially with a cup of tea and homemade date-roll cookies. Toby and Charles had an instant friendship, chatting about guy stuff, driving truck and farming.

Charles told me about attending the Gibson one-room schoolhouse near Cannon Corners in Ellenburg. While writing the story, I wanted to confirm location, so I searched online and was amazed when a 1925 photo of the Gibson schoolhouse popped up.

I downloaded the picture and forgot about it until after Christmas when I came across it again and printed the image, intending to take it to the Drowns to see if Charles was in the picture.

The flu bug hit me, then my husband; my days got busy; and I forgot about it again. My birthday (March 7) came and went. I picked up the paper a few days later and read that Charles had passed away on March 6. I could not believe it. I hate it when life happens when I’m not paying attention.

We went to Charles’s memorial service in Mooers, and the little Wesleyan Church was overflowing with people who were there to honor him. Seems this big strapping man with a gentle spirit had made a multitude of friends in his 92, almost 93, years. We didn’t stay because it was standing room only. I dropped Eva a card and told her I’d be around to see her in a few weeks.

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