BOWEN COLUMN: Bob Hadley and the dark-haired sophomore

Published 10:30 am Sunday, June 27, 2021

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I recently thought about a particular dark-headed young lady from LaGrange High School for the first time in years, and that for a couple of reasons:

One, my high school classmates — Bob Hadley — and I became friends on Facebook recently. I actually hadn’t thought of Bob in a long time, either – to my regret – but we all know how the high school years fade gently into the eastern sky before you know it. To me, Bob will always be inextricably linked to the young lady of whom I am referring. Her name I will withhold for now, only to tell you that she was a notable graduate of the distinguished LaGrange High School class of 1975.

Bob and I connected, I believe, in our junior year, my last full year at our beloved alma mater. It seems that I remember seeing him walking to school one day and – since I was the proud driver of a sparkling red 1965 Chevy Nova – I stopped and gave him a ride. Two things I most remember about Bob are, one, that we rode home from school together for a good length of time that year – and, two, and equally important, that he had a class with this particular young lady that I had a bit of a crush on. The hope was that Bob might be able to have some pull and set us up. I must admit the chances of that, as I look back, were sketchy, at the best.

No, I’m not blaming Bob, because, as you well know, you have to give somebody something to work with in these kinds of matters. Bob’s attempt to get me face to face with this young lady was a little like shooting baskets down at the Y without a ball. Or, if there were a ball sitting over in the corner of the gym, it was too flat to bounce. You understand.

To Bob’s credit, I remember that he hung in there with me, even though we would not have turned off of Greenville Avenue on any given day before I asked if there were any updates on this young lady.

Now, readers, I have to be fair here and tell you this: As a storyteller, I know that good stories have to have a good ending, preferably a happy one – and I know that you are reading in anticipation of something romantic and touching at the end. You’re thinking: Ah, I bet at the end ol’ Bob hooked your friendly columnist up with the dark-headed girl up and they went together  to see Cool Hand Luke and Boatwright play ball at Granger Gymnasium and maybe even went to prom or something and were the talk of the whole high school.

But, alas, that’s not exactly the ending.

Oh, I might make up a fairy tale ending just so you could have that warm, fuzzy feeling at the end; but if I did, the young lady invariably would get wind of the story and come right back and set things straight. That would be a very bad look for my credibility as a very modest columnist for this paper. Yes, it may be true that I do stretch things a little every now and then; but you can’t rightly make up a fairy tale ending when the prince never even could the nerve to say a single word to the princess.

That’s right, I never spoke to that young sophomore back in 1972-73, except – wait, I could be wrong. I did say ‘hey’ to her a few times as I passed her in the hall changing classes. That’s right, my junior year in high school, I walked by that young lady every single day, timed it just right, I am sure, but the only twirling of my vocal cords that I could muster was a weak ‘hey,’ accompanied with a bashful smile. This young lady was nice and would return the courtesy, but her return smile was probably her thinking, “That boy’s gotta get some nerve up, because I know good-and-well he wants to talk to me.” But that Georgia boy never did, and the young romance fizzled like a piece of ice on the hot July sidewalk. Pssssst, and the chances melted away. I said earlier there were two reasons I thought of Bob and the young lady after almost half a century. If the romantic ending fizzled, maybe this part will make the story worthwhile.

I have been studying on prayer as of late, and I came across that verse over in Hebrews where the apostle says that we can come boldly to the throne of grace – and ‘boldly’ there literally means to come ‘sharing everything.’ You don’t hold anything back, kind of the way we do when we talk to a good friend.

I thought, “What better way to teach that concept than by telling the little story of Bob and this young lady. I did anything and everything else besides go ‘boldly’ to the dainty sophomore and say, ‘Hey, I was wonderin’ …’”

I was afraid, I am sure, that her answer would be something like, “Uh, never,” or “I’ll get back to you,” which, as we know, is a nice way to say ‘never.’

But, thankfully, with the Lord, we don’t have to approach him with the fear and trembling of a nervous boy who is never even able to get his voice untangled from his tonsils.  No, with the Lord, we just walk up to that throne of grace and say what it is we need to say. And the Lord — even though we know He is way out of our league, as we say — will listen. Pretty amazing, huh?

I bring up ‘out of our league’ because that young lady was a cheerleader and, I’m very sure, honor roll and the works, and, certainly, was in kind of another stratosphere than that junior lad who drove the red Nova to and from LaGrange High back then.

But, still, I am pleased to say ±— with a chuckle and fond memories – that the young lady is one LaGrange folks may know, whose maiden name is Ms. Leigh Herrin. With a smile, I now have to refer her and her (family to that throne of grace we’ve been talking about — and thank her, too, for allowing her name to be splashed all over the bottom of this story. Well, maybe not ‘splashed,’ but at least tucked away safely for only the most patient readers to see.

Maybe there’s a lesson here the young lady, now years later, will appreciate ‚— perhaps that’s why the Lord unfolded this story as it did way back then — so that we can all walk up those golden steps to the heavenly throne more boldly now. We always ‘have a prayer,’ I guess, when it comes to the Lord. That’s good to know. But as for that dark-headed honor-roll young lady I passed in the LHS hall every day?  Ah, truth is, I never had a prayer.

P.S. Oh, one more thing: Bob, would you mind telling Leigh that there’s a story about her in the paper? You know, for old times.