Sunday, August 4, 2013

Three Friends and a Faculty

The faculty of Brownwood Elementary wearing our Brownwood has Gone Green t shirts.
Leaders are a dime a dozen.  Many people try to lead and some are pretty good at it.  But every now and again, if you are lucky, you might encounter a special kind of leader...a leader who makes people want to follow; a leader who leads by example and somehow makes others rise to levels of achievement they might have thought impossible.  

Wayne Washam
I've been lucky enough to see the real deal a few times in my life.  For instance, my high school band director, Wayne Washam, was one.  He led the band in tiny Arab, Alabama, for decades and while he was at the helm, Arab's band was one of the best in the state.  At times Arab's band probably included one-quarter of the entire high school population. Band was that popular.  And Washam could silence an entire 200 member band with a look.  He was that good.  Everyone wanted to be part of it because of him and because the program embodied excellence.   Students who joined the band in 5th grade would be under Washam's watchful eye for 8 years before graduating.  Because of this, he left an indelible mark on the young lives he touched.  Members of his band learned way more than how to play an instrument.  They learned responsibility, discipline and dedication.  Wayne Washam held himself to high standards and he expected no less from his students.  

John Esslinger
My children are part of the cross country and track teams in Scottsboro, AL.  For years, these programs have been the finest in the state.  Why?  Because they have been spearheaded by Hall of Fame Coach John Esslinger.  Esslinger demanded, expected and cultivated excellence in his athletes.  Somehow he managed to take ordinary kids and turn them into state champions year after year.  In 21 years as head coach, he racked up an amazing 41 state championships.  His teams included nearly 100 individual state titles, as well.  He had junior high and high school kids choosing to get up and run at 5:30 in the morning, or in the heat of the day and in the summer when other kids were sleeping late and having fun.  Esslinger was able to encourage his athletes to do things that most would find impossible because he was willing to do things other coaches would never do.  Many times, on those early mornings when the team wasn't practicing, he would still be there helping just one or two kids.  And he held himself to the same high standards he required of his athletes.  He is absolutely the most dedicated and hard-working coach I have ever seen.  He is a person of character and athletes in his programs learned much more than just how to run, jump or throw.  They learned lessons on how to live a good, moral and respectable life. 

For the last four years, Brownwood Elementary in Scottsboro has had the great good fortune to have this kind of a leader holding the reins.  Steve Green came to Brownwood after a stint as assistant principal at the local junior high.  Many of us were skeptical.  What could a secondary principal do for an elementary school?  How could he understand the needs of elementary students or their parents or teachers?  Even though we heard nothing but good things from the junior high teachers, still, we wondered.  We needn't have been concerned.  Ok, I'll go ahead and admit it...we were wrong!  Boy, were we wrong!

Green with some of his favorite teachers.
 Steve Green is one of those rare individuals who can be a strong and decisive leader while still being supportive and kind.  He has a big hearty laugh that echoes through the halls.  You cannot be in a bad mood when you hear that laugh.  He is one of the hardest working people we know and when there is a problem to be fixed, instead of dragging his feet or passing the buck, he says, "I'm on it!"  His first order of business each morning is to poke his head in each teacher's room, give a jolly, "Good morning, good morning!" and ask if anything is needed.  His emails to us were always full of encouragement and humor and he always ended them by saying, "Hold the Fort!"  We looked forward to reading his pithy remarks.  He leads by example and he supports his teachers.  He is not afraid to make a decision and stick to it.  He doesn't try to please everyone; he tries to make the best decisions possible and his ultimate goal is to do the best he can for every child in the school.  Honestly, everybody works harder because he works so hard. We loved Steve Green right from the beginning.  His very first year at Brownwood, we had shirts made that said, "Brownwood Has Gone Green...And We Love Him!"   Principals of his calibre are hard to find and apparently even harder to keep, because even though we wished it wasn't so, we have lost our leader to Lynchburg...Tennessee, that is. 
We tried threatening him with The Fork to get him to come back with us!  The big two timer!
So, this day was a bittersweet one for Three Friends and a Fork.  If you remember, on our last trip to Birmingham, we were making plans for a good-bye party for our favorite principal.  The plans we came up with included hijacking Mr. Green and taking him to lunch.  This was, we thought the perfect time to go back to Miss Mary Bobo's, located right off the square in Lynchburg.  After checking with Green, we then got busy contacting our Brownwood colleagues.  We knew they would also want to say farewell to this fine man.  
Luanne started the day off with car trouble!

That's how we ended up, once again, on the road to Lynchburg.  Seventeen of us were able to make the trip and we were excited to see how Mr. Green was being treated by his new faculty.  So off we went, Three Friends and a Fork, back to Tennessee.  We arrived early back at Miss Mary Bobo's to get checked in and get ready for the rest of our colleagues to arrive.

Here's a link to a video about the history of Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.  Pay close attention at about 5:06 into the video.  There are some Scottsboro folks enjoying the bountiful spread!
Waiting for the dinner bell to ring!  What is Tracy doing?

Checking out the gift shop at Miss Mary Bobo's.
Wonder what Barbie is saying?
 Our party was too large for one dining room, so we were going to be divided into two adjoining rooms in the historic old boarding house.  Meals are served two times a day, six days a week at Miss Bobo's.  When the dinner bell rings, each party is escorted, by a hostess, into one of the dining rooms and dinners are served family style.  When our hostesses called us, our noisy party trudged into our two rooms in the basement of the old house, just across from the Roundtree cistern.

The Roundtree Cistern
.  Dishes were lined up on our tables...fried chicken, sliced pork and gravy, squash casserole, brown butter beans, apples laced with Jack Daniels, tomato relish, creamed corn, fried okra and chess pie.  The dishes are passed to the left until everyone fills their plate and then passed again...and again.  If a dish gets emptied, it is refilled and brought back to the table.  This continues until everyone is so full they cannot eat another bite.  Everything was delicious.  My personal favorites were the tomato relish and the tipsy apples.

Sliced roasted pork and gravy
No fair, Parker!
Good food, good meat, good grief!  Let's eat!

Starting at 12 o'clock, fried chicken, brown butter beans, tomato relish, creamed corn, squash casserole, fried okra and a corn muffin.  In the center...baked apples made with the "local product", Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey.
Chess Pie, Oh My!
This is the point where we think Green first got the idea to steal The Fork!
After lots of laughter and story-telling, mostly at the expense of Mr. Green, we somehow finagled an invitation to visit our boss' new digs at Lynchburg Elementary School.  He was probably wishing he had some way to politely refuse our request, but he is such a gentleman.  He pointed in the direction of the school, just a couple of blocks from Mary Bobo's and we jumped in our cars before he could change his mind. 
Making everyone laugh...except Tracy.  Who is she texting?

What a great guy!  Look at Kellenberger...she is overcome with emotion...missing him already!
Look out Lynchburg!  Here we come!
One of Lynchburg's kindergarten classrooms.  We tried to get Green to throw the occupant of this room out and hire one of us!  
Heck, Green...hire ALL of us!

Look at the shine on those floors!

We were impressed by what we saw.  Lynchburg Elementary is in a large, sprawling building, much larger than Brownwood.  Mr. Green told us it used to be the high school and they converted it to an elementary school.  As we walked up to the building, en masse, we realized that Green had stolen our FORK!  We had to ask him where it was.  He thought we were giving him some kind of silver fork award, I suppose, because he thought it was his!  We had to send him back to his truck to fetch our fork.  Really, Steve, we love you, but without the fork, we are just Three Friends!  We started back up to the building, this time with fork in hand.  Now don't you just know those Lynchburg teachers were wondering about the harem with the giant fork Steve Green was bringing into the building?  They had to have been wondering what kind of person had just been hired.  And then we opened our mouths...our very loud mouths!   They probably started making frantic phone calls to the superintendent!  Everyone of us traipsed into the front office where three concerned looks were cast our way.  Mr. Green introduced us to the ladies at the front desk and started toward his office when he realized he couldn't get in.  In all the fork controversy, he had left his keys in his truck.  He sheepishly went back to ask one of the ladies in the front office for her key.  We walked into his office and were struck by waves of nostalgia.  Back at Brownwood, Green always had a large glass case with two big catfish he and his dad had caught and Green had preserved.  The first thing we saw was that case and it hit us.  Our principal was really not coming back.  He and his fish and his large deer head were in Lynchburg to stay.  Here's a disclaimer...somehow I missed the deer head back in Scottsboro, but everyone tells me it was there.  Green said it was because when I was in his office I was always on a tear about something, which I vehemently deny!

On the steps of Green's new digs!
Have I mentioned that Steve Green is a clean freak?  I peeked into his bathroom, out of curiosity, and had to laugh.  The man had three toothbrushes and two tubes of toothpaste setting on a shelf.  I suppressed a giggle.  We tease him all the time because  he ALWAYS  carries a bottle of hand sanitizer in his pocket.  If he ever walked into my classroom and I happened to have a cold, he would start walking backwards, inching back out the door.  Sometimes I used to tell him I had a cold even if I didn't,  just to watch him squirm!   It is hysterical!  Can you think of a worse place for a germ-a-phobe than an elementary school?  There were many snickers from teachers when we would see little kids latching onto Green as he would walk down the hallway.  I bet he would run back to his bathroom and cover himself in Germ-X!  

The best principal, ever... with his handy dandy bottle of Germ X!
Look where Green left his Germ X.  We should have hidden it just for fun!

Lynchburg Elementary School may be in an older building, but it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into its upkeep.  The floors were spotless and shiny from multiple wax coatings.  As we meandered down the hallways, Green paused to introduce us to one of the people responsible for the immaculate appearance of the building.  One of the custodial staff happened by and spoke to Mr. Green, saying, laughingly as he looked at us, that now he understood why Green had turned down his offer to share his lunch of squirrel dumplings.  Yikes!  This guy apparently does not know Green very well, yet!

Steve Green is a great outdoorsman.  He loves to hunt and fish.  But he is a complete wimp when it comes to eating!  The man is PICKY!  And, as I have mentioned before, he is a germ freak.  He wants to know who has prepared his food and is completely freaked out by potluck dinners.  He would never eat squirrel dumplings!  FYI, not try to feed Steve Green.  It will just frustrate you!

In the interest of full other thing the Lynchburg folks should know...Steve Green is, how shall we put this, an obnoxious Alabama fan.  Do not for one instant think he is going to yell for Tennessee.  He won't and he will happily needle you about all the National Championship trophies Alabama has accumulated.  Several of us Auburn fans staged quite a violent intervention, to no avail.  If you can learn to love him in spite of this serious flaw, you will be very happy with Steve Green.
Choking him will not convert him!

After our tour, we sadly said good bye to our good friend, Steve Green.  We are leaving him in Lynchburg for now, but we warned the teachers we met that we would happily take him back, so they better be good to him.  Actually, I think he is going to love Lynchburg.  Every single person we spoke with was genuinely happy to have Green and they all seemed so pleasant and welcoming.  So, good bye, Mr. Green! Our shirts say it all...We Love Him!

                                                                                                Hey, Green....Hold the Fork!  
                                                                                                       Richi, Sherri and Lu!
The back of our Green shirts...And we love him!

Three Friends and a Fork, Steve Green and the faculty of Brownwood Elementary School 

Mr. Green and his fans!

collectively give Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House 

3 Yums UP!

Ok, here's the contest, folks!  The first one of our fans, ehem, friends to correctly guess the number of times "The Fork" appears in these photos, will receive a personal invitation to join us for our next outing...on us!  (See our disclaimers in our previous blog post!)  Ready, set, go!  
Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House on Urbanspoon


  1. Did a search on miss mary Bobo's and found your blog post! Sounds like you had a wonderful fun lunch. I live in Fayetteville so I've eaten there few times. The ambiance is what makes it fun I think. ~ Dori ~

    Oh - for fun I counted the fork - think I saw it ten times... although one of those times I could just barely see the tines. :-)

  2. Dori, thank you for visiting. Mary Bobo's is fun! Did you also check out our post about Okra's, in Fayetteville? And your guess was close, but not quite! Look again! :)