SURRATT: Of old acquaintances and memories
Published 4:00 am Friday, April 28, 2023
It’s amazing, sometimes, who you can run into when you work for a newspaper.
I was covering the Port City Kiwanis Club’s 50th-anniversary dinner last week when I had a blast from the past, as the Top-40 DJs would say.
Travis Wayne Vance introduced a gentleman named Charlie Ford. The name sounded familiar and the face looked familiar. I knew a Charlie Ford when I attended Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, so after the dinner I walked up to him and said, “Catholic High ’68?” Turned out to be the same guy I knew in high school. In fact, the last time I saw him was the fall of our junior year. Mid-year, I transferred to Lee High School, where I graduated in 1968.
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My chance meeting with Charlie Ford has not been my only occasion to “bump” into a former classmate. Several years ago, I received an email from a former eighth-grade classmate who saw my name on a story while he was visiting Vicksburg to speak at a Civil War roundtable program.
During my years in Louisiana, I ran into several high school classmates while working for weekly newspapers in two small towns. One was a teammate from my track days at Lee who became a county agent in West Baton Rouge Parish.
When I was trying to help a newspaper group I worked for start a paper in New Roads, La., I ran into three Lee High alumni — one was a county agent, another was the manager of the local grain elevator and the third was the chamber of commerce director. It made things a little nicer having friendly folks around.
But former classmates aren’t the only acquaintances I’ve run into over the years. When I spent a couple of days on the carrier USS John C. Stennis, my escort was the brother of a Baton Rouge Advocate reporter I knew. While out and about one day in Pascagoula, I ran into a former Navy master chief I interviewed on the USS Ticonderoga. In McComb, I found the wife of a former Baker, La., firefighter who was living in the area.
In all those occasions where I’ve come across people I’ve known, they’ve given me time to stop and think about my past and how they came into my life. At one time, I thought, like many other young people, that happiness was seeing Baton Rouge in my rearview mirror, but bumping into people from home gives me a chance to go back for a while and remember some of the good times of growing up and when I return from the past I feel a little better about myself.