Concerned over classmate’s fate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This Labor Day weekend was a busy one for me. On Saturday I attended a football game at Norfolk State University; on Sunday I attended a morning worship service at my church, East End Baptist, and following that service a church picnic at Sleepy Hole Park, and on Monday I attended the wedding of a classmate in Chesapeake.

In between these activities I found time to drive to Chesapeake to visit my father in a nursing home. But no matter how busy I was, it was hard not to think of victims of Hurricane Katrina and the fate of a classmate and friend who is living in Mississippi 30 miles from Biloxi.

Grady Boykins and his wife Lenore were recently living in Midlothian,

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but moved to Mississippi about two months ago. Grady still has family here and ever since we graduated from the former Booker T. Washington High School in 1962, he has always kept in contact with me by phone and visited me many times when he came back to Suffolk. My class has really bonded more than we did in school since graduation and we are known to be the one class that has had more reunions than any other from our school.

On Tuesday Roland Wilson, another classmate, called me to ask if I had heard from Grady, which immediately caused me to realize that the call that I usually get about every two weeks had not come in about a month. I attributed this delay to the fact that he was busy moving. Then the realization also hit me that I may not ever hear from him again after seeing what the storm did to the area, causing me to experience a sudden panic.

I thought of another classmate, Ray Parker Jr., who once worked with Grady’s sister, Lucille Mondon, at Western Tidewater Community Services. He gave me her number and I talked with her on Friday afternoon. She then told me that she had talked with Grady and would tell him to contact me as soon as she got off work that evening at 5 p.m. However, the weekend went by and I never heard anything.

About 11:30 a.m. Monday morning Lucille called me again and apologized because she had left the telephone numbers that I had given her at work and my home phone is an unpublished number. She informed me that she had talked with two brothers who live in Texas and they were on their way to Mississippi to take money and gas to Grady and were going to try convince him to go back to Texas with them because Grady had told them that a tree had fallen into his home, leaving a large hole which caused it to be uninhabitable.

But the most important thing is that he and his wife are safe.

If there is any good thing to come out of this storm, it’s the fact that Americans and foreigners are coming together making tremendous effort to create comfortable living conditions for evacuees, proving to them that they are not alone.

Also, the hurricane season is still in progress until the end of November so we are not out of the woods. Realizing this, another good thing learned from this storm is that many of us will now take better precautions to heed messages to leave our homes in emergency hurricane situations. Many of us will also take the time before a storm to prepare hurricane kits so that we won’t be without necessities if we have to be evacuated for several days.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.