“Janette” by Doug Fincher

February 10, 2020 - Pam and I had a Book Signing at “Nettie’s Nook” on the square in Center, Texas in July of 2018. Along with other friends, we met Annette Peters the store owner. A friend told me, “when you meet her, you’ll like her” and he was so right. What a genial personality and natural entertainer. Early that afternoon, Lonnie Lawson walked up to our table and asked “were you kin to “Sister Richards?” And when I told him she was my Preacher/Grandmother, it kick-started a wonderful story about his attending church with “Mama” when he was a young boy.

Later, Mrs. Hooker, Dr. Hooker’s widow, joined us and we exchanged uplifting stories about her late husband and Dr. Carroll Chadwick. Then Ginger Borders surprised us with a visit. “I work at Farmer’s State Bank next door and want one of your books,” she said. I had not seen Ginger since the days that I photographed Painted Buntings near their Broiler Farm in the Center Sand Hills.

We had only twenty minutes left before closing time when heard someone call, “Henry.” I knew immediately it had to be someone I knew long, long ago during “ancient” school days when I was called by my first name. I looked up and there she was, my dear childhood friend, Janette Searcy (now Wittmann). We both enrolled in Mrs. Stanley’s first grade class in 1939 and graduated together in 1950. There was a giant hug and then an immediate explosion of dialogue. She was the same indisputable Janette… same wit and same personality. For about twenty five minutes it was a non-stop exchange of childhood memories that only stopped when we walked out the front door at closing time. As we walked to our cars, Janette said, “Henry, there are so few of us left.” “We need to have another reunion soon.”

And I hope we do.