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The Paris Junior College History Department, in a continuing project, collects oral histories from Lamar County veterans of World War II. In recordings and transcripts, the veterans bring to life what it meant to serve 60 years ago.

Listed below are links to historical and genealogical societies and related groups and institutions within the Paris Junior College service area.


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Song Lyrics and Life

Posted 05.06.08 at 8:15 AM

Not being a very musical person, I have always been intrigued by lyrics, the “words,” which makeup what I might refer to as the narrative nature of songs, rather than the rhythms.  Zelda Fitzgerald contended, as gleaned from reading a major biography of her, that she “wanted to live her life based on the lyrics of popular songs.”  How intriguing to contemplate what might be considered a rather modern perspective, so typically associated with youth. Of course, to an old foggy like me, maybe I am wrong to assume that young people even listen to the lyrics today, and only wish to “vibrate” to the sounds themselves.  Words have always been so vital to me that I just assume there would be relevance for everyone to associate with lyrics in such a way.  Even what Zelda professed was not such bad logic.

Anyway, for those of us who have lived the era of Bob Dylan and Don McClean, maybe I should not be surprised with the likes of “Five for Fighting,” a pop/rock group of the contemporary music scene (the lead singer’s interest in the sport of hockey and the penalty term happens to be the basis for the name of the group).  Their stylized, improvised use of falsetto delivery catches the attention of the listener, and the lyrical sentiments are implanted in our memory cells so that we are plagued by the reverberations caught in the mind.  I know some young people are listening to this group and have attempted to have discussions with them about the lyrics.  Some blank stares more often than not seem to be the primary response.

Nothing new in the proverbial “Dance to the music of time,” as exemplified and rendered voluminously (12 novels) by the English writer Anthony Powell who portrayed such harmonies and dissonance over the decades from WWI through the 1960s through his literary offerings.  When words and music are combined we have a feast of experience to be savored through multiple dimensions.  Powell made a monumental effort through words to record the rhythms we live with.

Contrastingly, on one particular journey Dr. William A. Owens got me involved with a “Sacred Harp Convention” where only the singing voice (I suppose the ‘sacred harp’), in counter-point with other voices, happens to be the mainstay of expression.  Dr. Owens was an avid collector of folk songs and hymns, and was considered something of an expert in this field, especially where our region is concerned. 

As is the case with most such experiences, the ear and the mind have to be trained to appreciate the delivery.  Our days are filled with such voluble experiences, whether they have telling impact at the time or not.  In whatever context, including all those mentioned, it takes a little effort to have a comfortable relationship with our “muse.” 

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PJC Hispanic Club

Posted 04.21.08 at 12:18 PM

The newly created, or resurrected, Hispanic Club at PJC has been a focus of lively interest and activity this college year.  Susan Sanchez and Daisy Harvill have been joined by other advisers, particularly including Kelli Ebel, newly hired Spanish language instructor.  I have made an effort to attend as many regular meetings as feasible and found a wide variety of program topics.  I am sure Mrs. Helen Williams would laud all that has gone on to promote awareness and understanding of other cultures.  Mrs. Williams happens to be in my thoughts since she carried the torch for languages back when I first came to PJC.  What a unique character; and things haven’t changed much since so many of our current advisers carry on that tradition today.  You have to have a broad perspective to take on the challenge of working with students who generally have other things on their minds.  We have all learned a lot!  From the “overview of dance influence” to “the travel slides” narrated by a number of presenters, with Bill Neely’s perceptive “emphasis on reading and writers,” as well as Cathie Tyler’s “art retrospective,” we have all experienced a wide range of informative programs.  Not to leave out the program cancellation, which prompted Susan Sanchez to divvy up questions to be answered by each of us regarding various topics.  Who would have thought this would be one of the more memorable and insightful programs in that sharing experience? 

The First Annual International Film Festival may have had a shaky start, but was one of the more intense and talked about sponsored activities of the club.  We look forward to such new perspectives.  Even experienced eyes can benefit from subtitles, and Daisy Harvill will be able to use her “bell” for future reference.

College clubs and organizations are primarily for students, and faculty and staff continue to help make available the venue for such rewarding experiences.  With so many other activities available to students, we know it is a challenge to entice students into such a structured setting, but the will seems to still be inherent to make the effort for students to share in such relationships.  A special commendation should go to all faculty and staff who give of their time and experience in such endeavors.  A well deserved “Thank you,” to all of you, who have been a part of these efforts!

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Creative Awards at PJC

Posted 04.08.08 at 7:32 AM

The 32nd annual Creative Awards will be held in the J. R. McLemore Student Center Ballroom, 9 April 2008, at 2:30pm.  Something to be proud of in an era when reading and writing, and being creative in the ARTS, tend to be a lesser priority for most people.  This project was the inception of Dr. Tony Clark when he was at PJC back in the 70s.  We are truly indebted to the likes of Dr. Clark for his own creativity, having been a published poet—one particular volume entitled “Fate - One Mile.”  A literary club of sorts, of which Dr. Clark was a member/participant, would perform in various venues, PJC being one of them.  We were always entertained by the insightful whimsy employed in many of Dr. Clark’s offerings.  These were not stodgy, weighty evenings; these were moments of fun to be savored through the years with the memories of such occasions.  One of Dr. Clark’s very special poems was based on his emotional youthful dilemma when choosing which movie double-feature to attend, “When Bambi came up against Gene Autry.”  For many it was somewhat surprising that such a subject could be the basis of a fairly serious poem. 

There have been numerous speakers at the Creative Awards over the years and many winners who have gone on to what might be considered bigger and better things, but the moment is at hand and I felt a reminder was appropriate that such an occasion has survived and prospered with the passing of time.  One noteworthy relatively new group of participants would be our Dual Credit students from our service area ISDs.  Their instructors encourage these students to be creative to the extent that they are worthy participants in the contest categories, and many of them turn out to be winners.  Congratulations to us all!

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Roy Bedichek and the University Interscholastic League

Posted 04.02.08 at 9:19 AM

With the recent UIL events being held here on the Paris Junior College campus, it brought to mind comments made by William A. Owens regarding his good friend Roy Bedichek. In the annals of Texas lore, Roy Bedichek is known as a philosophical figure. My exposure to Bedichek came primarily from what Dr. Owens related to me, and the rather interesting circumstance of my being acquainted with Bedichek’s's daughter, Mary Carroll, who lived here in Paris for a short while. His is a name lost to most if not for such informative relationships. In my mind I will always link Bedichek with the University Interscholastic League by which he was employed beginning back in 1917. At that time the UIL was a part of The University of Texas Extension Bureau. Bedichek became the second director of the league in 1922, and he eventually retired from this position in 1948. Our local UIL events having triggered such memories, I think it noteworthy to recall that Roy Bedichek was one of the three significant figures making up the legendary triumvirate of J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and, as mentioned, Roy Bedichek himself. I don’t know whether this is even mentioned in any of the explanatory material associated with current UIL activities, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of such a noteworthy career. It is told that at the urging of Webb and Dobie, Bedichek took a leave of absence in February of 1946 to write his first book, “Adventures with a Texas Naturalist” (1947). His second book, “Karankaway Country” (1950), and his third book were awarded the best Texas book of the year by the Texas Institute of Letters.

For those interested in more detailed information they might look to William A. Owens, “Three Friends: Roy Bedichek, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb” (1969), as well as W. A. Owens and Lyman Grant, “Letters of Roy Bedichek” (1985).

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William Humphrey Selected Letters Published

Posted 01.17.08 at 4:53 PM

“Far from Home” Selected Letters of William Humphrey, edited by Ashy Bland Crowder and published by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rogue, La. 70808 (ISBN 978-0-8071-3272-2) has just been made available for many of us particularly interested in this writer.

The book flyleaf conveys, “Often compared to William Faulkner, renowned American writer William Humphrey (1924-1997) sought to shatter myths about the South in such acclaimed novels as Home from the Hill, The Ordways, and Proud Flesh, and in his voluminous short stories, critical essays, and memoirs.  This collection of Humphrey’s best letters deserves space on the bookshelf alongside these earlier works.  Beginning in the 1940s when, as a true starving artist, he wore borrowed clothes and could afford only one meal a day, the letters move to his time as a goatherd, his stint as a teacher at Bard College, his middle years in Europe, and the letters decrease in number as he returns to America with his health declining in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Humphrey corresponded with some of the central figures in the literary and intellectual life of the twentieth century, including writers such as Katherine Anne Porter and Leonard Woolf, and the publisher Alfred Knopf.  These letters present a vivid picture of Humphrey as he provides commentary on his contemporaries through personal observations combined with sharp critical judgments.

The letters also provide remarkable insights into Humphrey’s own works, showing him to be a man happiest when he forgot about himself also prone to plunging into despondency.  The correspondence unforgettably reveals his troubled soul and his life as a quintessential artist; a man with the unswerving drive to make a lasting contribution to American literature.”

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