Remembering Marie Anna, Paul, Emily Rose, Pat—and Jack

Published 12:06 am Friday, June 26, 2015

By Garland O. Goodwin

Well, it’s back to the lament format again, much as I would prefer to write about the happy times before we got old. But if I did that, the surviving family members might wonder whether I forgot about their loved one.

No, you did not know Jack Blackwood, but I did, and I think you should know about him, too. Jack came into the Air Force with four years at Auburn, and as a budding architect, worked on shoring up the sagging roof trusses in the hangars built hastily of wood during WWII. He also moonlighted with a local architect.

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I could not decide then whether to be an architect or aeronautical engineer when I got out. But I knew of only two kinds of architects: rich or starving. After seeing so many examples of Jack’s creativity (he could make a Quonset hut look like the Taj Mahal), I picked airplanes. Good choice: I did not get rich, but neither did I starve!

Jack could sketch a concept quickly on a roll of “talking paper,” as he called it (he had sawed a foot off the end of a roll of tracing paper). He kept an endless supply at hand on which to share his design ideas. Then he would combine them into beautiful drawings, all done in ink with impeccable lettering and line work.

He also mastered deadpan delivery of his jokes and one-liners; after cracking us up, he would just give us that open-mouthed, blank stare of wondering why we were laughing so hard.

We always had to stop over with Jack and Sara Jo in Birmingham, going and coming from Texas. Jack had bought an “unbuildable” lot in a fine neighborhood, then put a storybook house on it. Only an architect of Jack’s ability could have designed a house for that lot, but when completed it just fit and somehow looks inevitable. We have spent many happy hours with them there.

Many of you did know Marie Anna Fink. I met her when she brought Colonel Fink to the Columbus Lions luncheons for our VIPs (Visually Impaired Persons). She was a vivacious lady whose good humor was contagious. She struck me as being beautiful not only outside, but inside as well. She was warm and affectionate beneath her “take charge” imperative to get things done.

When we Lions visited them in their home each Christmas there was much happiness all around the big Mason & Hamlin grand piano that dominated their living room. When Col. Fink died, she gave us his low-vision reading machine to pass along to another, and she asked me to tune her piano for her granddaughter. Hers was a life well-lived, full of adventure, largely of her creation—because she wanted it that way!

I found General Paul Cantrell again at White Oak. He and wife Ruth Butler were out of Tryon High School before I entered it. I did not know he was named General until I saw the beautiful scrapbook of his life that someone had made for him. He treasured that book, and told me some of the stories that go with it. He also explained that he shared that first name with the Bridgeman men because they were family friends.

Since Paul and Harrison Bridgeman, Jr. served in the Army, I think it must have been interesting to have them addressed as “Private General P. Cantrell” and “Private General H. Bridgeman.” When I made this observation to Paul, he just gave me a forced chuckle and changed the subject.

I must now add Emily Rose Brantley Scoggins. She was younger sister to Jean and Marguerite, and I believe she was in my younger brother Bill’s grade at Tryon School. She was a quiet, sweet girl who once played Leybach’s Fifth Nocturne on the piano for assembly at school. When I saw her and Carroll after I retired, I asked her whether she could still play that, but she said she didn’t remember playing it at all!

Now we have lost another of our beloved Lions. Pat Recker took the calls and arranged for eyeglasses and exams for our qualified citizens. I would forward countless e-mails to her, and always got a prompt reply: “LOL (Lauging out Loud) . . .” When I called and got her low-pitched voice, I would ask for Pat, and she would laugh while saying “Speaking!” Pat traveled and camped extensively before settling here in Holbert’s Cove. She was a delightful person and a dedicated Lion. We miss her already.

I’d better send this in before someone else dies! As always, you may read about their accomplishments in their obituaries; I choose to tell you only what they meant to me personally. And only the good stuff.