Deep Impact

 

If you hope to be successful in life there are people who impact you.  I don’t know how successful I was but I certainly had people who guided me, mentored me, people I wanted to emulate.  Marilyn Koon Hendrix had the impact of a pile driver as far as my life is concerned.

I don’t know what I expected.  I didn’t know how a principal was supposed to act, but “Koon” certainly wasn’t what I expected.  She was a friend, a mother figure…maybe a god figure.  She was the standard I measured all other principals by.

She was certainly the queen of her realm.  Everyone knew who was in charge but not in a heavy-handed way.  No one would accuse her of being a micromanager.  She wanted to lead, taking you along because you wanted to go, not dragging you along because you had to go.

Mrs. Hendrix allowed you to teach or coach in your own way.  She was comfortable allowing you to learn by making mistakes, backing you the first time and expecting you to gain wisdom and not repeat the mistake.  I made plenty of mistakes those first few years and she made sure I learned from them.  My wisdom?  I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Koon was a big woman or maybe I should say, she had a big presence.  She cast a huge shadow, bigger than life.  To me, she was an Amazon in every way. A deep raspy voice and a hardy laugh she liked to use.  Koon worked hard and she played hard, she expected the same for those who worked under her.  She had an “if it ain’t fun, I ain’t wantin’ to do it” attitude and her attitude translated to all around her.  I tried to adopt her attitude throughout my career, always trying to find fun in what I was doing.

I was young and impressionable trying to soak up as much knowledge and wisdom as I possibly could.  I was a twenty-three or four-year-old child who couldn’t bear the idea of disappointing his parents or Ms. Koon…although I’m sure I did.

The youthful me was “country come to town” when I entered her office for my interview.  It was a casual affair…a sit down on the couch, she in her rocking chair.  A let’s get to know you kind of interview.  I found out we grew up in the same county, she the “huge” metropolis of Lancaster, me in a wide place in the road near a cow patty, eighteen miles north.

I’ve often looked back on that moment.  I’ve often wondered what she saw in an immature hayseed from Indian Land, but she offered me a job teaching Physical Science and coaching and my life’s course had been set.

As the interview ended, I remember she leaned in as if to tell me a secret, instead asking a question, “Do you think you can work for a woman?”  An odd question in today’s era but this was the early Seventies and she was the first female principal in Greenville County.  I wanted the job badly and would have worked for an Orangutan.  No, I never said such and working for a woman was no problem.  Working for Koon was a joy of a lifetime.

If you are successful there are usually one or two people who impact you.  I was lucky…I had many impactful role models just at Mauldin, many who never realized their effect on my life.  Many who are now gone but not forgotten.

I was fortunate, I got to tell Marilyn how much she meant to me a year or so ago.  One person I didn’t get to tell was Jay Lunceford who passed too quickly to tell.  I find it particularly ironic to have learned of Marilyn’s passing on the anniversary of Jay’s.

Saddening but then the memories come flooding in.  I’m not sure how we survived to have memories.  God takes care of the young and stupid.  Oh, the stories I could tell but won’t…some of the people involved are still alive.

Koon will be missed but she’ll never really die either.  I have too much love.  Too many people owe her much…much love.  Too many people have the warm glow you associate with the warm morning sun and with Koon.

I have hopes she and Jay have met up somewhere in the cosmos, telling tales, laughing with each other, reminding us of what it was to be a Mauldin Maverick back in the day. “Do you remember when….”  You bet I do.

Koon, I’ll miss you, but I’ll still be laughing with you, telling tales of those days…the good old days.

***

Clarification:  Jay Lunceford was the head football coach and athletic director at Mauldin High School…and the father figure to Marilyn’s mother figure.  He too had a significant impact on my life.  Unfortunately, he passed way too soon in the late Seventies due to a brain tumor.  I believe he was thirty-two.

Don Miller writes on various subjects and his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from an old yearbook.  Marilyn Koon Hendrix when she was still Marilyn Koon.  I pray she’s not looking down pointing a finger at me.

Dark Tempest

All tempests are not caused by climate.  Belle Beaudoin’s chance encounter with a man she hasn’t seen in fourteen years leads to a passionate romance.  She and Sawyer Ramsey’s second chance at love becomes complicated and perilous due to her ex-husband’s and his replacement wife’s involvement with a Gulf shore crime lord and his menacing lieutenant.  Their budding romance may not be allowed to bloom but may instead die in the dark waters around Bayou Adelaide.  The following excerpt is from Dark Tempest.

“Virgile Lagasse dressed like a dandy from an earlier era.  A light-colored, linen, three-piece suit was worn over a frilly silk shirt.  The matching vest was embossed with scenes of antelope at play.  A dark, string, bow tie, gold studs, and cufflinks completed his outfit.  His matching gambler’s hat and cane lay on the desktop.  Virgile could have been Big Daddy Pollitt from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Yancy Derringer of Fifty’s TV fame…except he was grossly overweight…more so than Burl Ives, the actor who played Big Daddy in the film, at his heaviest.  Three hundred and fifty pounds if an ounce, carried on a five-six frame.  He resembled a miniature Jabba the Hutt dressed for a cotillion.  Even his skin coloration was a bit green.

No one dared comment on his toad-like looks. As Big Daddy, Virgile Lagasse was one of the most powerful and feared men on the Gulf Coast …one of the most violent.  Unlike Big Daddy, he hadn’t acquired his power from the buying and selling of cotton, he had grown wealthy from the buying and selling of men’s vices.  Women and gambling were the bait, meant to capture men’s souls and he had hooked a big one, Phillipe’ Marcel Beaudoin.  All he had to do was land him and from his phone taps, it appeared Phillipe’ might jump into the boat on his own.

The Beaudoin family had been a thorn in Virgile’s side for years.  Not a big thorn but it didn’t matter.  Virgile hated any competition even if it was from an old-time moonshiner’s family.  He had purchased Phillipe’s gambling debt from the local loan shark, Fat Cherry LeBlanc.  Virgile wanted a monopoly on vice along the delta.  The weed and moonshine the Beaudoin family ran went hand in hand with gambling, women and heavier drugs.  Virgile would have the monopoly…along with the gambling debts Phillipe’ owed or Phillipe’ would have trouble walking without crutches…if at all.”

Don Miller’s nom de plume Lena Christenson creates a tale of romance and suspense with a touch of the erotic.  A second chance at love turns in to a fight for survival.  Dark Tempest may be purchased in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1081900407?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860 or downloaded at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07VL9S7CB

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