Fond memories of Selma residents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To the Editor:

Mrs. Logan Cowart’s letter reminded me of many people who lived in Selma and made contributions to the betterment of our city. Oh, how I wish that I had kept a diary of my many years as cemetery superintendent. Let me recall a few memories that come to mind.

Families like the Kaysers, Bartons, Lilienthals, Marings, Levas, Eagles, Cohens, Maas, Teppers, to name only a few, spring instantly to mind. They were always there to help in time of need, such as floods, during blood drives, at food banks, wartime bond drives and during the Great Depression. Not only did they serve our town during my lifetime, they also served through the years of long ago.

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I have often looked at the name inscribed on a gravestone in the Jewish section of Old Live Oak Cemetery. “Stonewall Jackson Lilienthal” is lettered across its surface. Yes, there were patriots then as well as now.

Whenever we needed flower bulbs for the cemetery, the Council of Jewish Women gave me many that had not been sold during their annual seasonal flower bulb sale. And with the bulbs they gave the bone meal fertilizer used in planting.

Former wartime pilots never get over being “fly boys,” so we do a lot of “hangar flying.” My friend Richard Gibian was a fighter pilot in World War II, where he was involved in ground support and a Flight Leader.

Each Tuesday, he is at the Public Library desk and each Thursday finds him at the Food Pantry.

On other days, he and his wife, Betty Rose Leva Gibian, deliver Meals on Wheels.

An experience a little closer to home happened when I was a child just five years old. I was struck by an automobile and it was “touch and go” whether the doctors would have to amputate my right arm at the shoulder. Thanks to the decision of my mother, the Lord and the skill of Dr. Monroe Maas, I kept my arm.

Years later at the Military Induction Center, an Army Flight Sergeant asked if I had any scars that could be used for identification. I said, “Yes, sir, a large scar under my right arm.”

“Raise your arm and show me,” he said.

His reply as I complied: “My God, man. How did you ever get in the military? Doesn’t that arm hurt?”

“No sir,” I answered truthfully. “I played high school sports with this arm.”

Selmians have so much to be thankful for. As I dress for bed I sometimes raise my arm and look at that ugly scar. And I say, “Thank you, God, for my many blessings.”

My guardian angel must be hump-backed and gray-haired from worrying so much about me.

God Bless Selma and its people.

Johnny Russell