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More about reading, other thoughts
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I was surprised and delighted by the number of reactions to my column discussing the book about Greg Martenson’s schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan — from a few who had read it and others who want to.


Yes, it is available through our library, but you may have to get on a waiting list.


Judging from the number of people who came to the historic courthouse for Olivia H. Robinson’s book signing of her novel, “Hockenhull Gold,” there probably are many who are presently joining me in reading that piece of history set right here in our area. Although it is really the story of the man John Hockenhull, those familiar with the history of Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties will feel much at home, especially those who are intrigued with the gold-mining era.


It is written in a rather journalistic style, not surprising because Robinson has spent much of her career as a journalist. On a personal note, Olivia (a vivacious, attractive lady) and I were pleased to discover that, although I am not a Hockenhull relative or near relative, we have Cape San Blas in common. She now lives in Port St. Joe, Fla., the town through which one enters St. Joseph Peninsula and the Cape. And yes, that book is also available through our library. The author donated a copy.


During the past week, I read many editorials and columns expressing special thoughts on the Memorial Day holiday — some of them articulating a lament that the day had become more celebrated as  “beginning of summer, pool-opening” time than as a time to honor those who had lost their lives in the service of our nation. That observation was echoed by Mike Berg, featured speaker at Dawson County’s Memorial Day Ceremony, as well as by other speakers around the country. Perhaps it is good, however, to surround the somberness of the occasion with happy times; those being honored would no doubt be thankful for that.


I was glad to be reminded (as I read) that the nationwide observance actually grew from “Decoration Days” when people took homegrown flowers to the graves of Civil War veterans. Fortunately, those decorators (mostly ladies) could not imagine how many graves there would be from all the later wars in which Americans would die.


Still on the subject of reading: a lot of you must have been reading Charles Findley’s history of old Dawson County schools, “Yesterday Once More.” He has just been able to authorize a third printing.


And speaking of schools, the focus has certainly been on graduations — from preschool to college. Not lost amid all the congratulations is the fact that those actually leaving the academic world are finding the world of making a living more difficult than their immediate predecessors. Best wishes to them.


One focus locally was on the retirement of Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland, whose “surprise” retirement program at Robinson Elementary School was attended by many of all ages - from former teachers to current students. A native Dawson Countian, with deep roots on both sides of his family, he used his entire academic career in building up the local school system, and there were many laudatory remarks and well-wishers.


Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.