Our three-seat golf cart
was maxed out with six passengers. The
sun hadn’t started its orange-glow descent below the tree-lined horizon. That’s
why the trio of photographers was trusting me to pick the perfect spot—down by
the lake—in the shade.
I wanted the folks holding cameras to be happy, but I was
more intent on the couple holding hands—on the back seat—to be happier. After all, this was their wedding day at
Pam’s venue, Historic Smithonia Farm.
And the bride has a very special hometown connection.
During the half-mile ride from the barn, I was reflecting on how the bride’s dots connected to mine. In 1953, at T.G. Ritch Elementary School, her paternal great-grandmother, Mrs. Aletha Poppell, was my first-grade teacher.
But there’re more Wayne County connections.
Rachel’s paternal grandparents, Beth Hatton and the late
Pat Hatton, have been our family’s friends for years. Their daughter was one of Alan, Emily and
Eric’s babysitters. I had a chance to visit
and laugh with Elizabeth H. Roper, as if the 1980s were last week. Jacob, a senior finance major at Georgia
State University, accompanied his mom.
The wedding gave me a chance to reconnect with
Elizabeth’s brother and father of the bride, Robert, a Valdosta pharmacist. About 11 p.m. on May 28, I shook hands with
Robert and gave his wife, Kim, a hug. Their
smiles lit up the faint-moon night as he drove his F-150 into the Oglethorpe
Perhaps the longest reunion was with George and Susan
Hirvela, along with their son Steve, who live in Carrollton. George’s late mom, Glenna, was an O’Quinn, a
sibling of Judy O. Burke, the late Maxine O. Partin and the late Lonnie
O’Quinn. As my early-career banker,
Lonnie trusted me to sign enough 90-day notes to wallpaper my office. Glenna, Judy, Maxine and Lonnie’s dad,
George, was Wayne County’s sheriff, 1950-1954.
Sheriff O’Quinn’s sister, Aletha O. Poppell was my first-grade teacher. Her daughter, Beth, is Rachel’s grandmother. See how all these hometown links weave together to make a multigenerational quilt of friendship?
And the wedding went one step further. Rachel’s maid of
honor, Amy Gail Wooley, will marry attorney John Lex Kenerly on July 16. The connections with both sides of his family—Kenerly
and Bland—were established with the NeSmiths decades ago.
about all these hometown connections —215 miles from Jesup—is why I was
determined to find the perfect place to photograph Mr. and Mrs. Reed
And who would have imagined that in 1953?