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B.J. DRYE COLUMN: 1989 — when a kid could be a kid

The year of 1989 was interesting to say the least.

I do not remember much about the first half of the year, which included my passing the third grade.

One thing that sticks out in my mind is something about a teacher washing a student’s mouth out with soap. I will spare mention of the teacher or the student.

In August of that year, we began fourth grade. It was pretty normal for me as one of my teachers, Mrs. Ross, moved up with me from the third. She would also move up with me to the fifth. I’ll let her decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Who am I to say?

But it was what happened on these dates in September of that year that sticks out most in my mind.

We survived Hurricane Hugo.

That became the ongoing theme. It was on T-shirts, and for some reason the Charlotte Hornets had named their mascot that a year earlier.

Hugo was unlike anything I had ever seen.

That’s a pretty big statement for a 9-year-old me to make.

It’s not the storm I remember most. I may have been asleep for part of it.

But I do remember the downed trees all across our palatial estate and the greater Drye Village in upper Stanfield, lower Locust.

The tree where I spent many hours missing basketball shots was gone.

I remember going to visit my aunts and uncles and my grandparents just up the long driveway to access the situation.

We spent one or two weeks without electricity. We passed some of the time by putting puzzles together. I remember one had “Alf” eating a pizza or a cheeseburger. “Alf” was very big then.

For you youngsters, you may have to look up who “Alf” is, and probably what a “puzzle” is.

Years later when I arrived at The SNAP I found an issue of the Hugo coverage. Lifestyles Editor Jo Anne Efird told me stories of how they worked by candles or outside on the steps to continue pounding out stories. I can’t recall if they missed an issue, but I’m pretty sure the answer is no.

Things sure have changed since 1989.

Mrs. Ross is retired.

I am no longer able to shoot a basketball, though that was my favorite activity.

Many of the inhabitants of Drye Village are no longer around, with only a few of the originals still calling it home.

Jo Anne is gone. There will never be another newsroom personality like her. Love her or hate her, she left her mark on Stanly County, that’s for sure.

You can’t wash a child’s mouth out with soap at school anymore. If a teacher did, a photo or video of it would go viral.

It sure was a nice time when photos did not go viral.

At 9, there were no thoughts of hating the president. I’m sure there were people who did not like George H.W. Bush, but if there was hate, it surely wasn’t shown to us kids.

We didn’t hear of such divisiveness in the country. There were only a few things we really knew about him during his presidency. He was our leader in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he got sick during his visit to Japan and he picked a vice president who didn’t know how to spell potato.

Oh, if only we could go back to the future.

Wait, didn’t one of those come out in 1989? And also “No Holds Barred,” “UHF” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” ?

It was a great year for movies, and a simpler time to be a kid.

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Contact him at 704-982-2123, bj.drye@stanlynewspress.com or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.