During the war years of 1943 and ’44 before I went into the military as a young teenager, things were tough in the Far East and Europe. Living on a farm in Cane Branch was also tough. On school days, after breakfast, while my brothers and I were getting chores done around the farm and getting read for school, my mother was packing our lunch. She would go out back to our smokehouse and slice ham to put in the biscuits left over from breakfast and put them in a poke sack for us boys.
We then walked two miles to Burdine School. I put my lunch in our coatroom closet. Most of my classmates were in the same shape that I was in. We lived in many hollows around Burdine and most of us were poor during those years.
At lunchtime, your lunch was often taken by someone and eaten. If somebody in my class knew I had ham in my biscuits, I might not see my lunch again.
One of my classmates was Bill Crum and his mother, Mrs. Woodrow Crum, worked in the school cafeteria. Bill would tell her that I had no lunch and Mrs. Crum would see that I got a hot meal. That happened many times during the seventh and eighth grades. I also knew she gave a free meal to other students. She was a lifesaver for me.
Mrs. Crum’s other son was Woody Crum, a year ahead of us, who helped me many times in my becoming a good athlete. Woody would later become one of Jenkins High School’s best athletes and later in college. He then became a college coach.
I want the descendants of Mrs. Woodrow Crum to know that she fed this old boy many times and that I loved her very much and that she was like my second mother. During my eight years at Burdine School, we had a great bunch of parents and teachers, and I think of them often.
Mrs. Adams was the greatest teacher I had the pleasure of teaching me in my lifetime. She taught me in many classes and was one of my best friends during the time I was in the military. I would always look her up when I came home on leave.
She told me that I was a good student and an outstanding athlete that could have gone far in school. She was very upset at me for leaving school and going into the military because I was so shy and did not have nice clothes to wear to school. She told me that had she known, she would have done something about it. Mrs. Adams once told me that some of my female classmates in high school wanted to know whatever happened to the good-looking Vanover boy.
I know that Mrs. Crum and Mrs. Adams helped mold me into the person I am today.