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05/05/13 07:07 PM #6    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Glad you enjoyed the poem.  

Can't wait to read the annual edits.  I'm relieved it wasn't my senior memory.  

Just came from Joni's 50th and we cannot possibly look as old as her class.  Can we?  You and Walt look great and it was so good to see you.

Looking forward to next year.  




05/08/13 07:47 PM #7    

Jimmie Cain (Story)

That poem is so special and thank you for sharing it.  None of us had changed in the last fifty years - right?  However, Joe and I tease that they have changed but NOT US!    Thank you so much for sharing. Jimmie

05/10/13 05:36 AM #8    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Hi Jimmie,

Glad  you enjoyed the poem.  It was so good to see you and Joe.  Looking forward to our class getting together again next year for Pisgah's centennial celebration,  Les


06/09/13 06:48 PM #9    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Just received this story from a friend and thought it was worth sharing.  Don't know if any of you are still checking this website.  Les


This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. It is well worth reading, and a few good chuckles are guaranteed. Here goes...

My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car.

He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:
"Oh, bull !" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that.

But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one." It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough , my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown.

It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother.

So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying more than once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage.

(Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church.
She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home.

If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream. As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic..

As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it.. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support.
"No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works."
But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing.

"Loses count?" I asked.

"Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said " If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."
My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90.

She lived four more years, until 2003.. My father died the next year, at            102.

They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said..

"Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night

He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said:
"I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead            yet"

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life,
Or because he quit taking left turns. "

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. 

So love the people who treat you right. 
Forget about the ones who don't. 
Believe everything happens for a reason. 
If you get a chance, take it & if it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it." 





06/10/13 09:39 AM #10    

Carol Neidigh (Williams)

Great thoughts!  Thanks!  

I'm glad we have the "Blessed Hope" to go along with our "expiration date" thoughts!  However, no left turns sounds like good advice.

Can we keep this website?  Does anyone have more pictures from our 50th to post?

Have a great day!


Carol W

06/10/13 05:59 PM #11    

Paull Dixon


Thanks for a geat story.  I sure enjoyed laughing as I read it and will share it with Sarah tonight.  Hopefully, we'll be as flexible when we get "old."

Look forward to our gatheirng next year,


06/10/13 07:00 PM #12    

Sharon Clark (Hoyle)

Great staying connected through this web site. Don't know how I missed the first poem that you posted Les - you beat me to the punch to share with our class. But just enjoyed it again, along with your latest entry. 

Several unfinished items after our weekend - that have been on my mind... 1) John probably needs a final count as to how many CD's to make of the choir - so one of us will post something regarding this.  2)Principal Anderson's appeal for  financial support for several campus projects.  Seems like the right time to ride the Centennial shirttails and get the alumni to step up to do something 'out of the ordinary'. If you have thoughts - please share them, and we'll pass them along to Principal Anderson.

I've been enjoying Jackie's tea - at a tea party yesterday, for lunch today, among other times....Thanks lady for being willing to overstuff your luggage so you could include tea for us, a St. Bernardine dog for the children's story, among all your other weekend finery!

Glad to hear rumblings of another good turn out Pisgah's big 100 year old part next April. I just noticed it will be Easter weekend - so get your plans going early!







06/11/13 11:11 AM #13    

Carol Neidigh (Williams)

I loved this last little flurry of responses!  Let's me know you are still out there, somewhere!  That is a good feeling!

Add 1 cd to the count of the "Testerman recording" for Walt and I.  We do still have the LP, but not sure what shape it is in for listening.


Carol W

06/12/13 12:14 AM #14    

Jacquelyn "Jackie" Thatcher (Hayes)

Yep--this is a cool web site, for sure.

I have to read Les's entry; have just returned from a month and 5775-mile trip to Maine, Quebec, etc.  We took Suqui on this road trip.  She made so many adoring fans and friends.


I want a CD of our choir, too.  So count me in!.


Sharon, we should do something to help Pisgah, you are right.  My thinking cap is still in my luggage; but we'll come up with something.

06/12/13 12:33 AM #15    

Jacquelyn "Jackie" Thatcher (Hayes)

Okay, Les, that was a tremendous article you sent along.  Can we all keep up with each other 'til we're 102? 


By the way, folks, Sharon mentioned my St. Bernard prop for the story at the reuion.  Well, on our trip to Maine, we went to church at Saco--pronounced "Sock-o," where a Black hospital chaplain was presiding while the pastor was absent.  Whoever was supposed to tell the children's story failed to show.  So, being the shy, reticent gal that I am, I volunteered.  I told about our St. Bernard, Heidi, who had 16 puppies, 14 of which lived.  Then, in the middle of my story, my dear husband thought he should go out and get Suqui, who is about as big as a St. Bernard, to be the prop.  I told you the presiding speaker of the day was Black--and he provided all the exuberant, amen-ing and exciting touches that should be a part of a Black church service.  So he went with the flow when Suqui ran right down the middle aisle and wagged her bushy tail in every one of the 12 or so kids' faces.  I'll have to say, getting Suqui away from the kids provided more excitement than anyone had anticipated that Sabbath morning.

06/12/13 11:46 AM #16    

Mariellen Davis (Silverstein /Sutton)

Les & Jackie!


So enjoyed reading your recent posts!  


Thanks for sharing!


Looking forward to next year.


06/12/13 09:51 PM #17    


Linda Pacer (Watkins)

I'm not sure this post is in response to Les' story or not, I hope so.  It is a wonderful story.  Thanks for sharing it with us.    

We here at Wrightsboro UMC in Wilmington are part of a great patriotic choir of about 100 people from many of the local churches in rehearsals for a christian patriotic concert around July 4th.  It would be wonderful if any of Mr. Testermann's students could hear us.  You know who you are!!!   It is just thrilling to be a part of it.  Some of our numbers include "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor", I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Lord Have Mercy", "O Columbia the Gem of the Ocean", and ALWAYS "A Salute to the Armed Forces", "America the Beautiful"and of course "The Star Spangled Banner". 

Just a note of personal accomplishment for me, the wheelchair is about a thing of the past.  My therapy staff has helped me transition to a walker.  I'm temporarily completed with therapy for the summer.  In the fall I will go back and we will begin to transition me to a cane, and once I master that, well, there's only one thing left......TO WALK normally.

Sharon was supposed to order a CD for me along with hers, so just let me know where to send my payment.  I can't wait to hear that again.  

In the meantime, carry on for God wherever you are planted.  Always remember, the work of the Lord is done by His people.  We may be the only glimpse of heaven someone sees.  

OK, done with the sermonette.

With fond wishes for everyone and with cherished memories.







06/13/13 09:09 AM #18    

Jacquelyn "Jackie" Thatcher (Hayes)

Linda, loved your sermonette!  And the choir program sounds like it should be recorded so we could get a CD of it, too.

09/13/13 08:18 AM #19    

Leslie "Les" Pitton


Hope you are doing okay with all the flooding in Colorado.  Keep safe.  Les

09/13/13 08:21 AM #20    

Leslie "Les" Pitton


So glad you are finished with the wheelchair.  Hope now that fall is almost here that you are using the cane and will be back to walking soon.  Les


09/14/13 07:04 AM #21    

Carol Neidigh (Williams)

Have been wondering about our Colorado class members with all the flooding.  Jackie and Merriellen?  Is everybody OK??  Seems like Merriellen might be in the middle of all the mess if my memory is still working.  Let us here from you


Carol W

09/16/13 07:12 PM #22    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Yes, let us hear from both of you.  Very concerned.  

11/04/13 06:23 AM #23    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Hi All,

They say most of the motels and hotels around Asheville will be booked the weekend of April 18, 19 & 20, 2014.  I just booked a room at the Holiday Inn we stayed at last year for the Pisgah Alumni Weekend and 100th year celebration.  The hotel contact information is listed under the heading "Places to Stay."  It's not too early to reserve a room.  Hope you all plan on returning.  Les


01/26/14 09:03 AM #24    

Jacquelyn "Jackie" Thatcher (Hayes)

It's 2014!  Who is going to the reuion?  Are we all running the 5K this year? :)  I really want to get together again.  Does this site close down in April?  Weren't we all planning to chat on it all year long?!

01/27/14 08:42 AM #25    

Carol Neidigh (Williams)

The Williams are planning to be at MPA if we can thaw out by April.  Not sure we are up to the 5K..  Hope to see u there!!

Carol & Walt

01/27/14 10:39 AM #26    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Pitton's will be attending but not participating in the 5K unless bicycles are allowed.  Hope to see all of you there. 

01/28/14 05:06 PM #27    

Jacquelyn "Jackie" Thatcher (Hayes)

Good!  I'd better get my tent reservation in, eh? 

04/27/14 10:27 PM #28    

Carol Neidigh (Williams)

I have posted the MPA Class of 1963, 2013 Class reunion shutterfly book on my shutterfly site if anyone wants to order it.  If you will send me your email address, I will forward the link to you.  You may order all or part of the book.  Enjoy.  It is made of the same pictures that are posted on this site.


Carol W


my email address is:

04/28/14 07:36 AM #29    

Paull Dixon

Carol, please send me the link to your website.  Thanks for making this available to us!

04/28/14 07:41 AM #30    

Leslie "Les" Pitton

Hi Carol,

Thanks so much. Please send me the link.


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