Some hooty-tooty writer that I don't read but whom everyone quotes said "you can never go home again."
What you really can never do is deal in absolutes. Because you can go home again.
I know; I did it last Thursday.
That was when the folks at North Columbia Elementary School held a reception to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary. From greeting my first-grade teacher in the parking lot, to getting the death-grip hug from my cousin the music teacher inside, to chatting with a former classmate whose son now attends the school, I knew I was home.
Best of all, I was accompanied by my wife, whom I met at the school in seventh grade.
The present campus of North Columbia Elementary School was built in 1956, in Superintendent John Pierce Blanchard's first building boom in the county (and, as my second- and third-grade teacher, Sara Ann Birdsong, pointed out, it was part of a statewide boom, too).
Before then, there were little schools all over that end of the county. Because of segregation, there were at least two of everything to start with, one white, one black. That meant that area of the county was dotted with schools in Leah, Winfield, Phinizy and Appling.
The construction of the new schools in Phinizy (black) and Appling (white) consolidated all those little schools into just two. Then integration eventually condensed it to one school on two campuses, with expansion of the Phinizy building finally putting it all under one roof in 1987.
North Columbia is now Columbia County's most geographically isolated school. The next-closest schools are eight to 10 miles away, either Columbia Middle School or the Greenbrier schools. It also is the county's westernmost school, yet there are still vast, sparsely populated areas even further west.
All this means North Columbia is more than just a school; it is the focal point for a large, rural, laid-back community. Its educators are a dedicated bunch, many of whom travel long distances and past multiple schools just to get to North Columbia. Its parents already know each other, and many of the students are multiple generations whohave attended the school and its predecessors.
From one of those former students, visiting there last Thursday felt just like going home - and just like a family reunion.
While I was able to make it out to North Columbia on Thursday, I couldn't make it to the Republican Party's monthly breakfast Saturday.
Apparently, none of the county's local elected officials did, either. Whether that's because of lingering heartburn over the outcome of the race for party chairman, or because of scheduling conflicts, who knows. One of the folks who was there felt it was more of the former, and called the absences "childish."
What it is, is nothing new. And it'll pass.
Who did attend? Of the 10 candidates for the 10th District U.S. House seat of the late Charlie Norwood, four attended: Jim Whitehead, Nate Pulliam, Erik Underwood and Bill Green. And of the three candidates running for Whitehead's 24th District seat, two attended: Bill Jackson and Lee Benedict.
The announcement about qualifying for that seat came out last week, by the way. The secretary of state's office announced that qualifiers will sign up May 8-10 after paying a $400 qualifying fee.
Many of the announced candidates for the 10th failed to show up when it came time to qualify last week. It's a pretty good bet that all three announced hopefuls will be there next week to sign up for the 24th.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.