I was especially pleased to speak about "The Class of '65" last week at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville because it's my mother's alma mater. Janey Yarbrough graduated in 1945 when the school was known as the Georgia State College for Women. The students called themselves Jessies (after GSC) and their little college town Jessieville.
In preparation for my talk, I pulled out my mother's yearbook and was reminded that one of her classmates was perhaps the college's most famous graduate: an aspiring writer named Mary Flannery O'Connor (or O'Conner, as they spelled it in the senior section -- apparently a good proofreader was hard to find). She was known more for her cartoons then, and they filled the annual with her quirky illustrations of campus life, like the one shown here. Mother remembered her as being kind of an odd duck. An odd duck who blossomed into one of the true peacocks of Southern literature.
I was the guest speaker for the History and Geography Department's honors day program, the closing act for an impressive display of student accomplishment and faculty guidance. Many thanks to department chairman Aran MacKinnon for inviting me, to history professor Craig Pascoe for suggesting me, and to all the students and professors who gave me their attention and asked good questions after I had talked about my modest contribution to Georgia history.
Pam and I were happy to see in the audience my Uncle Moon (birth name: Arthur Yarbrough), a retired college professor himself; his friend Ruth; and my Cousin Dyann, who all drove over from Sandersville and environs. Our longtime friend Ginger Rudeseal Miller, who was on the Georgia State University newspaper with us and taught journalism for years at Georgia College, came as well and joined a group of us for dinner afterwards (where this photograph was taken). It was great seeing Ginger again.
If you haven't been through Milledgeville lately, you might be surprised by what a lively college town it has turned into. My mother would be thrilled to see what has become of her old school -- and of the place they used to call Jessieville..