At some reunions, people will gather together long enough to eat, and then they leave. They won#039;t stay around very long to sit and talk with family members, friends or acquaintances.

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

But, I didn't find that to be the case at the Central Consolidated School reunion this past Saturday, Oct. 8.

Yes, there was plenty of food, but the people didn't just eat and leave. They stood outside the community center, inside the community center, and they sat out back underneath a huge awning, talking, eating, but mostly, they were smiling and laughing.

As I moved from one person to the next, I found myself surrounded with plenty of people who just wanted to talk; they wanted someone to listen to their memories, to their stories. And, I listened.

Even though Central Consolidated School is no longer in existence, I realized that I had gotten a pretty good picture of it in my mind because of all the details and memories that were being shared with me. It was like putting together a collage, fitting the pieces of this shared memory puzzle with shared laughter, and making one big picture of a place that held so many fond memories for so many people.

After talking with several people, it became clear that not everyone was in agreement when it came to certain dates and years, such as exactly when the school was rebuilt, or exactly when it finally closed.

But, I came to the realization that the dates didn't really matter. What was important were the people who had come together to relive a very happy time in their lives. And, it didn't matter if a precious soul told me the same story three times in a row; as she told her story, it was as if the years began to melt away, and I was talking with that bubbly 10-year-old girl back in 1923. To her, that memory was just as alive and fresh as if it had just happened. And for a brief moment, two souls who didn't know each other before connected, their paths crossed, and the younger of the two came away knowing that her life had been enriched, touched in some special way.

It just proved to me even more so that a physical building is nothing without the people who make up the heartbeat of it. It is the people with their laughter, their individual memories, their own personal stories that, when combined, breathed life back into a time that is no more.

And that was a glimpse of the past that I was allowed to see for just a moment this past Saturday.

My hope is that if I am blessed to live to see my 70s, 80s, or even my 90s, there will be someone there to listen to me at my high school reunions and carry a part of my past with them to share with future generations.

Regina Grayson is a reporter with the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached at 334-383-9302, ext. 126 or via e-mail at