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2013
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1/2/13

by Ben Harris McClary


It occurs to me that the beginning of a new year is the ideal time to write about missed opportunities.  I have one that I have regretted for about half a year since the death of Margaret Poe Trotter last summer.    Several times over the past two or three years Lillian Watkins Wilson has reminded me of an amusing incident which we wondered if “Miss Poe” would recall with as much humor as it brought to us.  It seems that during Lillian’s senior class play at PCHS, directed by “ Miss Poe,” Lillian played the mother of Charles Lynn Bates and Bill Lillard, a concept which sets the mind spinning.   The play went well in the first act, Lillian wearing a simple “housewify” dress, but drama trauma came in the second act when Mother Lillian was supposed to make a quick change into a dressy dress, suitable for important occasions.  As she exited, Lillian realized she had left that important dress at home.   No problem!  “Miss Poe,” who always looked like a fashion plate, just slipped off her dress, which fit Lillian perfectly, and the show moved smoothly along.  True, it is not an earth-shaking anecdote, but I think “Miss Poe” and others might have enjoyed recalling it had I brought it up earlier.

Another missed opportunity strictly on my part has to do with the Tennessee Valley Railroad, certainly—as the sarcastic line goes—“one of Chattanooga’s best kept secrets,” which expanded its good work into McMinn and Polk Counties in the fall.  I regret that I did not make a point of writing about it.  I have a lifetime membership in the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Inc., and in the 1990s did a great deal of volunteer work there.  All of its projects are worthy of support, but the venture into the rail history of Polk County is especially exciting to me, but I wrote nothing about it.

Finally, I have missed too many opportunities to proclaim the PCHGS’s QUARTERLY one of the best things to ever come out of Polk County.  The unerring quality of its editorship, its fresh content, and its remarkably complete coverage of the county and its people leave me speechless in awe with the arrival of each new quarterly issue. This is history at its best.

I am sure there have been many other  “missed opportunities” for this column.   I wish you, the reader, would help me with your ideas and memories.  I will be revising my 1996 “Never Far Away” series for most of the year, but I expect to drop in fresh material when it presents itself.


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