February 16, 1927
|Mr. Eugene Hendon,
Editor, Smithville Review
- It is a far cry to the day when I left Smithville, the town where I was born many years ago, and turned my
steps toward the far South in search of health which fortunately I found. I gave up my studies in Fulton Academy
under that splendid gentleman and scholar, J. B. Smith, with regret. I hope to speak further of him in another
- As you have so kindly given me the opportunity, dear editor, to contribute a series of papers for the columns
of the Review ---"Reminiscences" we may call them---I think I should get a little acquainted with many
of your readers and renew my acquaint ances with many more of them who have kinder forgotten me. I hope many of
them have prospered and have perhaps retired from active business, Persons of leisure, and if so that they will
find a little pleasure in reviewing with me some of the scenes and h appenings of the olden days. I am the youngest
child of William G. Foster (familiarly known as "Uncle Billy"). Bird, Ras, Steve, Joe, and Frank were
my brothers-- Joe only as yet living-- Sarah, an only sister, died in 1876. My father was the second so n in a
family of twelve--eight sons, four daughters--born to Mrs. Sinah Foster and John Foster. Sinah Foster was a most
remarkable woman. Around 1849 she took her sons and built a section of Snow Hill Pike under contract. My mother
Minerva Spurlock, Da ughter of Josiah Spurlock, and, married to my father about 1838. My Grandfather Spurlock was
given to his cups and had a penchant for fighting. An old story has it that one day when he rode into Liberty,
he was told that a fellow had just whipped a citizen whom he himself had fought several times, whereupon he asked
he be pointed out, which done, my grandfather challenged him to combat, whipped him, and said: "Keep hands
off this man, I keep him for my own fight ing." Strange doings ? Yes, but better than our murders.
- Lonnie Crowley, my beloved Lonnie, who went away years ago to " that born from which no traveler returns",
always said that I would be a teacher. I am now completing my fiftieth consecutive year in the schoolroom! What
an opportunity for servi ce God has given me! I thank him sincerely. No, I have not wasted time over moneymaking.
The clarion call to teach was so high and consecrating that I could not hear the wrangling of the money-changers!
I am glad I could not . Yes I am safe from the "wolf". I made two investments fifteen and twenty five
years ago respectively and left them to work; never meddled with them. Just waited--- as Woodrow Wilson would say,
a "watchful waiting". Yes, as the world counts it, I suppose I have been a succes sful teacher, and that
is better than being called a sharp trader, a moneymaker. It has been a wonderful privilege to touch the lives
of so many humans!
- I fell into a reverie one evening recently and I had a vision as it were of all the pupils who had ever been
under my instruction. I stood in the center of a great level field and saw them gathering about me. First came
men and women sober and gra y, many of them grandfathers and grandmothers now, and behind them shading back and
falling away for more than six hundred feet in every direction around me, the almost twenty thousand pupils I have
taught took their places, each in hand-clasp distance of those about him. I reflected as I gazed out upon that
vast throng, that few educators can duplicate that vision, but it was a vision like ships that pass in the night..
The vast throng went as it came--silently, as it should, for a good percent were sp irit, long passed over Jordan.
Only to me was left now the place were they stood-- the more than ten acres was tenantless! I suddenly opened my
eyes as my daughter called out, "here is a letter from Cousin Brown". Those few moments in reverie-land
with that vast concourse of former pupils gave me a theme for many days, serious reflection and perhaps the most
satisfying feature of it all is that I know of not more than a half dozen boys who ever donned the stripes a nd
a like number of delinquent girls. Of course, there may have been more-- a poor instrument-- to bring it to pass.
And now trusting that I have established some stable points of contact and sympathy with the reader, this introductory
article must find some conclusion without much delay. The "reminiscences" when I design to write for
the Review should appear for many weeks.
- I shall begin the next article with an incident of the Civil War -- the first one I can truly say I remember.