Prepared by Hugh Keedy and Jessie Bennett
Co-directors: Bethesda Museum
Annie Lou McCord
What an excited feeling I felt when my husband Russell approached me about moving back to my home community, Bethesda. That was 24 years ago. As I sit and reflect on the past years of my life I count my blessing for having been raised in the Bethesda community in a loving and caring family.
At the age of four, I, along with my eight brothers and sisters, lost our father to a car wreck. Our mother, the late Vivienne Grigsby Watson, moved into the home of her parents, Ollie and Ida Grigsby and sister Cleo Grigsby, along with all of us.
My mother took a job as librarian at Bethesda (at that time it was grades 1 through 12) until she received her certificate to teach. My brother Ralph and I were allowed to go to school with her, and I recall taking naps on the floor of the library. During the years Miss Frances Hatcher, first grade teacher, would send for Ralph and me to take part in school parties or to go outside and play with them.
When I became of age to attend school, I not only had Miss Frances as my teacher but mother, Aunt Cleo, and cousin Bess Eunice Bond.
I recall an incident that has "stuck" in my mind for years. We were not allowed to take candy to school, but during the day someone would ride their horse to the Bethesda store to get supplies for teachers and other students. I had slipped some money from home, so I left the classroom to give it to Herbert Giles, who was going to the store. I also gave him another student's name rather than mine. When he returned, I rushed to meet him thinking I could get my candy, but he told me he had to take everything to the teacher for her to give out. So, naturally, I did not get my candy.
As I grew older I was in Aunt Cleo Grigsby's classroom with Grace Tomlin Glenn and Jimmy Bond. I remember writing a "love letter" and Aunt Cleo coming by my desk and taking it away from me. She carried it home and gave it to mother, and said, "This is the type of work your daughter is doing for me." Of course, Mother sat me on the "wood box" and started lecturing me. (For those that don't know, the wood box held the wood for the stove.) The whole time she was lecturing me I was praying she would get a piece of that wood and spank me so I could leave, but the lectures did more good.
There were times when there was no water at the school for the students to drink. There were a number of times when Mr. Billy Alexander would bring milk cans filled with water. We would make our own cups from notebook paper, and stand in line just to get a sip of water.
My fondest years were those of high school. I remember teachers such as Jessie Borne, Clyde Adams, and Principal Nelson Jones. Mr. Jones was also my literature teacher. I remember him reading Shakespeare and then commenting, "Isn't that a beautiful thought!" O. L. Garner and I still talk about the wonderful years with Mr. Jones.
I was a member of the Bethesda Dragons basketball team. When we had "away" games we would stay at school and the late Mrs. Carrie Trice would stay and prepare the best grilled cheese sandwiches that anyone could want, for us to eat before going to the game. She was cafeteria manager.
Graduation came in 1954 with twelve boys and four girls receiving their diplomas. Over the past forty plus years we have remained in touch with each other as well as other classmates we started with. We try to have a class reunion every five years, and more often when possible.
My religious background was one I thank God daily for. We were members of Bethesda United Methodist Church, which at one time was located where the Bethesda Masonic Lodge is, but we also attended the Bethesda Presbyterian Church. We would alternate Sundays for preaching. I remember sitting in church with Mrs. Annie Lou McCord and trying to put her long gloves on my tiny fingers. She had so much patience with me. Revivals were attended by all in the community. There were services in the morning as well as at night. The preacher would go home with a family in the community for a large noon meal, and then would visit in the homes of community people before going back at night for services.
Vacation Bible School was also held jointly. One year we would have it at the Methodist Church and the next year at the Presbyterian Church.
Bethesda will always have a special place in my heart. I wish space would allow me to list all the names of people who have influenced my life and have been an example to, but there are so many that it just lets you know what a wonderful community Bethesda is. That is why we are growing so. We now have our own public library, an excellent museum, and a senior citizen center.
The following poem was sent to me by Aunt Cleo Grigsby in 1975, but I find it fitting for the community of Bethesda.
You're "Somebody Special"
Who has a true knack
With the niceness and warmth
That a lot of folks lack
You're one of a kind
And it seems from the start
You capture a place
In everyone's heart
You're "somebody special"
What more can I say
Except that I "thank you"
For being that way