By Charlene Shields
Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."
Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."
For many years (can it really have been more than 60?), my former high school and college classmate, Jim Hanks, and I have carried on a considerable amount of good-natured banter over the starts we received in life--Jim having gone to Whitsett, a one-room school north of Crossville, while I attended Bell, a similar school east of Crossville.
Later, we both taught at Carmi Township High School, although at different times. I can truthfully say I never got far in life, as I was born in White County and expect to die here. However, Jim went on to become a State Farm VIP with many accomplishments to his credit. Now retired in West Lafayette, Ind., he continues to be a leader in that community as he has wherever he has lived. The following is extracted from an article which appeared in his local newspaper recently.
Recollections, Ruminations and Reflections at Seventy-six By Jim Hanks:
Robert Frost on his 80th birthday, when asked about life, replied: "I can tell you in three words. It goes on." At 76, I fully agree and quietly ponder the extent I have also tried to follow this great American writer's poetic admission that he walked 'the one (road) not taken and that has made all the difference.'"
I have lived through most of this spectacular, incredible century and, now residing at Westminster Retirement Village in close daily contact with others of my generation, I see evidence in many lives that one must wait until the evening to realize how splendid the day has been.
Reared on a small Southern Illinois farm, I treasured my years at a tiny one-room rural school, during a boyhood where the highlight of the summer was the county fair, and I savored four years at a high school so small that most of the boys were on the basketball team, and all members of the class were in the junior class play. In those years following the crash of 1929, before the world exploded in the agonizing turmoil of World War II, we felt we had everything but money.
Tempered in youth by the homespun philosophy of "make it over and made it do," somewhat emotionally bruised and yet strengthened by duty in Europe during WWII, sombered and disillusioned by Korea and Vietnam, and impacted by the tumult of the Cold War and the civil rights movement, I was employed for 35 years by a precedent-setting insurance company itself born in America's heartland. While personally privileged to ride the crest of several decades generally marked by opportunity and progress, I am sensitively aware my generation has lived in an era best evoked by the hope in the Chinese proverb: "May you live in interesting times."
Last winter, I found fascinating Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation" and Peter Jennings' "The Century" (TV network anchors also write books!). Brokaw may have been overly generous toward my generation, but if you're expecting me to argue against the premise of his title, read no further. Sure, my generation has done a lot of things wrong and has made some grievous errors of judgment, but, overall as we rapidly exit this world's stage, I want to believe Tom Brokaw is right.
(Jim Hanks' reflections will continue next week in this space.)
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