Our Heritage is to have liberty with freedom: to choose to worship God or not, to receive an education or not, and to live peaceably. Peace and prosperity have been challenged. But we are Americans. We always step up to the plate to meet the challenge of the day.
I remember well the words of my parents on how to meet the challenges of life, and they have kept me steadfast through the years. Mom would always say, "Life is what you make it." In other words, it is how we react to the situations that happen in our life, our attitude will make or break us. When things did not go exactly as planned, Dad would say, "Well, we will just have to find another way," And, we did.
This is the attitude of past generations, the foundation that was laid by our forefathers.
We need to restore the landmarks that have influenced us to become a great American people.
One voice--yes , a senior citizen's voice--can make a difference in our community, our state, and our nation. In my hometown, Semmes, Alabama in Mobile county there is a 1902, one-room schoolhouse that is the oldest, continuously used school in Alabama. Word was sent to Lib Dodd, who was in her 80's, that the school might be torn down. She began to rally people to save the schoolhouse.
This group, many senior citizens and people of all ages, formed a nonprofit organization known as the Alumni & Friends of Semmes School, Inc. The goal was to preserve this historic building so that it will continue to be a place of education for students and adults. The little schoolhouse was acquired from the Mobile County School Board and moved back across Wulff Road to the original location on land deeded to the board of school commissioners for a school in 1902 by Thomas Jefferson Howell.
Features of the original schoolhouse include the original blackboards, original floors, a wood- burning stove, an antique desk, McGuffey primers and slates. There is a playground and a hand-pumped well on the grounds.
The little school is once again open for use for field trips and tours by appointment. hosted by volunteers. Mildred Wiggins, an 80 plus retired schoolteacher is the teacher. She attended this one-room school along with her siblings.
On August 25, 1994, Governor Jim Folsom added Semmes School to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Semmes Heritage Park became a reality with the addition of a replica of an early 1900's church that stood beside the school. The replica church has the original bell bought in the 1900's by Albert Funk. (it still can be rung).
The chapel is called Malone Memorial Chapel and Museum in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Malone, a former principal and an educator for Semmes School. Donations from the Malone's and other dedicated citizens made it possible for the replica to be built and furnished. A chair used by James A. McCrary in 1874, in the first log-cabin school in Semmes, was recently donated to the museum.
Giving back to our community, which has given so much to past generations and is looking to help future generations, is now a reality because of the vision of one person who lit the fire and other citizens of all ages who caught the vision. That is one of the things that makes our nation great.
Semmes is located on Hwy 98 west of Mobile, Semmes Heritage Park is at the corner of Wulff and Nursery Roads, and is open for field trips and touring by appointment. For information and reservations call (251) 649-0270.
by Jeanette Byrd , May 2002- ENERGIZERS News Magazine Alabama Power Foundation-Retirees