By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
It’s always sad to see places where we have good memories being done away with. Some of our very best memories seem to revolve around our high school years.
That’s why, when Deborah McAfee was driving by her alma mater, Cullman High School, she began to think about all the memories she had of attending classes there. It was in the halls of Cullman High that she met her future husband, Danny. Her daughters also graduated there, and there were memories of her friends and theirs tied up in that building. And there it was, being torn down, having served its purpose and making way for a new, modern and updated building.
But as she passed the demolition, she had a brainstorm…
What if those bricks that had housed Cullman students for so long could be put to another use? What if they could continue to be of service to the community in another way?
She went straight home and talked to Danny, and together they arranged to pick up the bricks, lots of them. Within two days the McAfees had about 200 bricks cleaned and were ready to begin Deborah’s newest project.
All of the proceeds from these bricks would benefit those in need of health care in Cullman.
“The Good Samaritan Clinic is such a necessity for our community,” said Deborah. “But they really need some help, and I thought that this would be a good way for people to donate.”
That said, this determined lady made tags for the bricks and started getting the word out to friends, classmates and family.
Within days the bricks began to make their way into the homes of people like Barbara Bentley.
“I graduated from CHS, and so did my son and my daughter-in-law,” Bentley explained. “But the main reason I bought the brick was because I knew that the money was going to the Good Samaritan Clinic, and I know that there are people in our community who fall through the cracks — they don’t qualify for government medical assistance, and although they have jobs and work hard, they still can’t afford health care costs.”
Bentley has an old World War II box that was used for land lines. “I don’t have a lot of old things,” said Bentley, who is an interior designer. “But this is a box that holds special things like this brick, and it sits on a baker’s rack in my sunroom.”
For retired CHS teacher and one-time Good Samaritan volunteer, Peggy Knight, the motivation for buying the brick was two-fold. She graduated from CHS in 1955, and her son graduated there in the ’70s. She also taught at CHS for 40 years, and she was one of the first volunteers when the Good Samaritan Clinic opened its doors.
“I really enjoyed volunteering there,” she said. “I helped patients with forms, did filing and answered the phone.”
She also brought food on Tuesday nights and although she no longer volunteers there, she continues to help by making donations in memory of friends who have passed away. “I think that the Good Samaritan Clinic is a vital part of Cullman’s community outreach,” she said.
Looking back over her high school years, Knight has good memories of CHS football games. “Although there weren’t many other schools back then that had football teams, one of them was Hanceville, and they were our biggest rivals at the time,” she said. “We didn’t have proms back then, instead, we had banquets. And then there was homecoming and the Strawberry Parade, and lots of talent shows were held at the high school.”
Knight taught in K Building, where her brick came from, so it holds a special place in her home. “I bought two, one for myself and one for my son. They will be used as bookends,” she said.
Cindy Ponder has special memories of CHS, mainly of the teachers who gave her and her fellow classmates so much encouragement during their years in school.
Ponder graduated in 1973. Recently, when the class held their 40th reunion, she sold bricks to the attendees. “Several people bought them because there is a special place in their hearts for CHS,” said Ponder.
The Good Samaritan Clinic also played a part in her desire to help McAfee sell the bricks. “The clinic is a special place,” Ponder emphasized. “The need is great, and I feel that if we are going to live here, we need to support places like this in our community.”
“I appreciate Deborah coming up with this idea, and she has done a great job.”
Laura Ray agrees wholeheartedly. “I purchased two bricks,” she said. “And for two reasons, one, because my son and daughter-in-law graduated from CHS in 1998, and he had such a wonderful high school experience there — he grew up in that school, maturing into a find young man, so this is a tangible memory of those years.”
The other reason Ray bought the bricks is because, along with the others, she wanted to contribute in some way to the Good Samaritan Clinic. “My primary reason for buying these bricks is because I feel that the clinic is so important, and we need to do everything we can to help to support this cause.”
Anyone wishing to purchase bricks can go by Cullman Cabinet on Childhaven Road and ask for Deborah McAfee. She will be happy to sell you a cleaned, tagged brick from Cullman High School. “They can be used as bookends, paperweights, and door stops,” she suggested. Sandra Edge, Deborah’s sister-in-law, bought bricks for her children. Deborah and Danny put furniture pads on the bottom of their bricks and used them in the family room as mementos of their high school days.
The bricks are $25 and all proceeds go to the Good Samaritan Clinic in Cullman.
To purchase a CHS brick, go by Cullman Cabinet, located at 1735 Childhaven Rd. N.E. or call 256-734-1540. You can find them online at www.cullmancabinet.com.
For more information on the services provided by the Good Samaritan Clinic, visit them online at www.gshealthclinic.org. The facility is located at 401 Arnold St. N.E., Cullman, AL; 256-775-1389.