A community celebration of grads

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, June 18, 2015

By Myrtle V. Thompson

Not many neighborhoods can lay claim to fame like “The Villas,” a part of the Burbage Grant development, a neighborhood with only two streets, Oakglen and Cambridge.

This year, five boys and one girl who live on these two streets graduated from high school. Five of the six started kindergarten together at Northern Shores Elementary. They have received their diplomas from Nansemond River High School and will soon begin a new phase of their lives. The sixth graduate started Northern Shores in second grade.

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None are related to me, but I feel like a proud Grandma. I have watched most of them as they grew from childhood to adults, have even called on some of the boys to help me put something on a high shelf or take it down when I needed it.

A celebration was in order. Neighbors were willing to help.

June 13 was a blistering hot day. The beautiful crepe myrtle trees that line our streets are not quite in full bloom, but they are large and provided excellent shade for seating. We placed two portable gazebos on the hot cement driveways of a residence on Oakglen and put the tables of food under them.

We enjoyed fried chicken, barbecue and slaw, baked beans, potato salad — all the usual fare for good summertime eating, along with chips, dips, cookies, sodas and cold water, cake and ripe watermelons.

“The tassel’s worth the hassle” were the memorable words that Elena of “Morris’ Morsels” put on the beautiful graduation cake she made especially for the occasion. Hal Frantzen made possible ice-cold watermelon by borrowing his grandchildren’s swimming pool and filling it with ice.

We had plans for games, including a watermelon seed-spitting contest, but it was too hot to exert the energy except for the arm-wrestling contest. When Hal challenged me, I deferred, then acquiesced when others dared me. Now Hal wants a rematch, because I won. Maybe next year — after I get old and become weak.

I reminded everyone it was also a special day for me, too. Seventy years earlier, I had graduated from Deep Creek High School. In those days, we had no kindergarten and only 11 grades. Computers and cell phones and social media were still in the future.

In spite of not being so well equipped, we used the talents needed for the workforce of the time and paved a way for their future. Education continues to open new doors and opportunities for students of today.

“Neighbors getting to know neighbors” is a motto for Burbage Grant. It has been my privilege to serve as neighborhood watch-person for the past several years. This seemed a good time to honor these young people and let them know we are proud of them.

We ended the celebration and got everything cleaned up minutes before the thunder and a few drops of rain fell. Party time was over, but the memories will remain.

We want our grads to remember we are proud of them.

Myrtle Virginia Thompson is a writer and retired missionary. Email her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.