More than a memory

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2007

By By Janet Little Cooper
This week's Lifestyles feature is based on memories of a time and place gone by. Most everyone possesses such memories from their days in school, be it good or bad.
And in this particular case with the alumni of Escambia County Training School, personal recollections are all that they have left.
The all African American school, which began in the late 1920's, has no more than two yearbooks for alumni to shuffle through opposed to the volumes stored away by other local schools.
ECTS did not reach its place in the spotlight until the late "60"s, some forty years after its inception, leaving the school's traditions and activities only in the minds of students and faculty. What yearbooks that were published were lost in a fire that consumed the school.
No one outside the walls of ECTS could possibly know or understand what went on in the halls of learning before the school's became integrated.
The memory book, "Remember That Time" created by former ECTS student Max Parker, has compiled memories of former faculty and students in an effort to save the history of the school that was often times forgotten.
Parker's memory book is a rousing reminder of a different time that focuses on the best and worst of times for the training school and highlights the favorite memories of individuals who had the pleasure and privilege to be educated at ECTS.
A fascinating aspect of the book to me was that every entry had a favorite memory of their time at the school. And nine times out of 10 that memory included the effort of a teacher or principal and a spirit of thankfulness for the time they invested in the student to ensure future success.
There were no memories that recalled anything of dropping out of school, or hating a teacher or even a principal. There were no memories of lockers being searched for drugs and no mention of violence on the campus.
The vivid recollections demonstrated throughout the book in pictures and individual comments show how much the institution meant to so many people.
And according to Mr. Parker, the memories run deep and true for the alumni as he has seen more interest in the memory book than he first expected.
Yearbooks are a common thing among school alumni. Often times the images captured in those books are taken for granted by those of us who are fortunate enough to own one. It is no wonder that the response to Parker's memory book has been great. We all want something to hold onto to remind us days gone by.
Not only has the book been a way to bring alive the days gone by at ECTS, but it has also served as a history book.
I have had the pleasure to interview numerous people who attended ECTS. Not growing up in Atmore, I possessed limited knowledge of the school. This memory book has offered me an extensive peek into a time and place that I will never walk or live and through the personal comments made by faculty and students I have learned a valuable lesson of life, time and appreciation.
The role of this book goes far beyond its intent to recapture school day memories by enlightening people of a different time and place and expressing the value of an education delivered by administrators and teachers who dedicate their entire being to the future of their students.
Janet Little Cooper is editor of The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123.

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