Macon Again

Thanks to everyone who have taken the time to share, read, follow and comment on these posts; I am humbled and slightly embarrassed that Libby’s blog has had almost 6000 views from the US, plus additional views from 7 foreign countries.

 Readers of the previous post learned that after I took Libby back to Mercer on Sunday afternoon, we decided to go out and see a movie and, after some lengthy good-byes, I had left, drove home and then found out that my next assignment was in Macon, so without sleep, I turned around and went back to Macon.

Nearly every time I attempted to call l Libby when she was in school it would become a long drawn out ordeal.  The process would always began with a call to the payphone in the first floor hallway of Libby’s dorm, then I would ask the girl who answered the phone if I could speak to Libby Willis, adding that I was calling long distance in an effort to speed up the process.  I would then wait as my reluctant assistant would inevitably drop the receiver, letting it bang against the wall, where it would remain upside down, suspended  by its cord, as she went off on her quest for Libby.  For the record here, that old black payphone handset could pick up an amazing amount of conversations, with stunning clarity, while dangling above the tile covered hallway of the girls dorm.

Because of time constraints and the fact that I had spent too much time during past phone calls eavesdropping on girl talk, I elected not to call Libby on Monday morning when I got into Macon.  Besides, I had just spent the entire night driving from Macon to my house and then back in Macon arriving just after 7:00 AM and I still had to set up my photography equipment before starting senior portraits.  With no free time before I was scheduled to start at 8:00 AM, I decided to wait until after work and surprise her, since she had no idea I was back in Macon.

In the 1970’s our group of photographers used terms when discussing our work that would never be used today because of recent tragic events in schools, such terms as,”I am booked at a large school for three days and I will need to shoot at least 500 kids per day just to stay on schedule”.  One such large school was Southwest-Macon High School with a total enrollment over 25,000 total they had over 5000 seniors in their graduating class and it was said to be the largest high school in the United States.  The project to which I was now assigned at Southwest Macon would require five photographers to shoot senior portraits and I would have a different senior scheduled in front of my camera every 5 or 6 minutes for the next three weeks.

By 4 o’clock on that Monday afternoon and after “shooting” my quota of seniors for the day I was in my Camaro and headed the two miles across town to see Libby.  Within fifteen minutes of leaving the high school, I was standing in the lobby of the Mercer University girl’s dorm, in the exact same spot where I had stood just a few hours earlier.  

Some of Libby’s sorority sisters were in the commons area of the dormitory as I walked in on that Monday afternoon and, somehow, they all knew that I had just left at midnight the night before, even though at that time there were no cell phones, Facebook or twitter.  The girls did, however, have good old-fashioned gossip (which, in Chi-Omega circles, was faster than Facebook with about the same level of accuracy).  I told the girls the story of my sleepless night and my intent to surprise Libby, they said, ” Uhhh…..Wait right here, we will find Libby and bring her out here to you”.  The girls ran squealing and giggling down the hard tiled floor toward Libby’s room right beside that old payphone on the wall with its receiver hanging upside down (poor guy).

Very soon that same high-pitched shriek from the returning gaggle of girls rose sharply through the corridor as the group approached the commons area.  The escort group had now doubled in size as a very confused Libby shuffled along in the middle of the mob with four sets of hands covering her eyes, all the while being steered by her captures in my direction.  The spectacle drew even more attention as the giggling group halted in front of me.  Although the girls still had their hands covering Libby’s eyes, each girl was now attempting to move around behind Libby so that when she opened her eyes they would be out of her field of vision and she would only see me.  In addition to altering their position, each girl wanted to be able to able to see both of our faces simultaneously before removing their hands from Libby’s eyes.

Libby in dress late 70's copy

It was evident by the number of girls gathering around, that everyone who met Libby, fell in love with her and wanted to see her happy. Libby’s genuine love of others had endeared her to most everyone she had come in contact with during her first year at Mercer.  The interesting thing about this particular group of girls standing around Libby, about to “present” her to me, was that many of the same girls who were standing beside her now,  would be standing beside her as maids of honor during her wedding in less than 18 months.

It would be an understatement to say these girls “enjoyed them some drama”, but, the girls were making way more of this than was necessary.  My fear was that after all of the hoopla and build up, Libby would be disappointed when I was the only thing there as all of the girls took their hands away.

Finally, Libby was finally able to open her eyes and see why everyone was making such a the fuss.  “It’s just me,” I said, sheepishly, “I’m back”.  Once more, in less than 24 hours I was holding Libby and consoling her as she began crying in the dorm lobby.  But this time the crying was multiplied by about 12 others who had joined Libby.