Thursday, October 26, 2006

Harriet Retires

I remember as a student when older alumni would drop by, telling stories of people whom I had never heard, of some old BSU building across the street. What out-of-touch geezers, I thought. Now I am one! I’m so old…I was at Tech before Harriet!

My freshman year (1977) the BSU secretary was Renee Box, the wife of grad student Ben Box. They participated in BSU activities and were lots of fun. Renee was like one of the gang. At the end of the year we were all heartbroken when we learned the Boxes were moving…where could we get a better secretary?

Rumors spread quickly about “the new lady” as Harriet settled in. Did she not rearrange the office? Outrage! We had never done it that way before! Different trinkets and pictures on the desk. But it didn’t take us long to warm up to Harriet. She was just what we needed…a mom away from home to take care of us. She wouldn’t lecture us when we did dumb things, but would keep up with us and gently steer us in the right direction. Her words and example made her every bit as effective a campus minister as Al, Bobby, or Tommy.

Harriet was cool. When we would pull a prank, decorate the steps, park John Rose’s VW Bug in the meeting room, or fill the campus minister’s office to the ceiling with newspaper, she would look the other way. She’d let Kyle and Fred O and Jim (and me) make fools of ourselves yakking over the speaker system for the entire building to hear. She’d let identical twins Clay and Jay Porter fight and call each other ugly. She would type term papers. Harriet even kept up with sports! What fun to sit around her office and debate the upcoming Tech game. This was before sports-talk radio.

Harriet had to put up with antiquated equipment. Those were the days before PCs and desktop publishing and printers at your desk. If Harriet wasn’t at her desk, she was around the corner hand-cranking out mimeographed newsletters or mailings. In the age before self-adhering stamps, Harriet’s tongue licked a lot of stamps. Actually she was smarter than that…she had us students lick them.

Harriet made us a part of her life. She was brave enough to host some gatherings at her house, and she kept us up to date on the educational and social activities of her children. Harriet is a part of our lives, a face we love to see…not only here at the BSU (or whatever it’s called now!), but also at Braves games, weddings, funerals, and other special occasions. We’d bring our babies for Harriet to hold, if she didn’t come to the hospital to see for herself. We all call Harriet to get the latest news on our college friends…she’d always have a nugget to tell.

There are more stories to tell, but I’ve forgotten them. Harriet, we love you!

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