Eugene and the Courthouse

Eugene Hewell was a good friend even before we started to school in 1939. He lived on the northeast side of the Fayetteville Grammar School and I lived on the northwest side. We could see each other’s house from our own. Since we lived so near we would often visit each other and play.

The school was just across the street from both of us. We walked unaccompanied to and from school each day. We even went home for lunch. We never took a bagged lunch to school as most children did.

On this particular day Eugene and I sat on the north steps of the school facing town at morning recess. My mother had gone to Atlanta and I would not be able to go home for lunch. I had taken a lunch to school for the first time and Eugene and I had already eaten part of it. I was feeling bad because I would not see my mother at lunch time.

I turned to Eugene and asked, “What would you do if your mother had gone to Atlanta and you could not go home to lunch?”

Eugene got a serious look on his face, screwed his foot on the step as he looked down. He was quiet for a moment and then said, “Well, Dean, there’s the courthouse if that makes you feel any better.”

I didn’t question his effort to help, for the courthouse was about the biggest thing in my life. I could easily see it from my house and had actually learned to tell time using its huge clock that struck the time on the hour and struck a single strike on the half-hour. Looking at it did seem to help a little. It seemed to say, “All is well. Nothing has changed. I’ll always be here making sure.”

Living here all these years I have seen things change, but it was so gradual that I didn’t know when. If my dad, who died in 1962, came back today he would have trouble finding anything as he left it .... except the courthouse.

Of course it too has changed somewhat. It now has three floors. The clock and tower were reconstructed after the fire in 1983. Court is never held there anymore. But you can still recognize it.

It says to me, “All is well. All has not changed. I’m still here.”