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The Ranks Thin As Old Friends Pass

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  
Our week has been hectic with our move back here but we’re now bona fide Valley residents and it’s a great feeling.  The only downside was losing two of my oldest friends, Wade Doolin, and John Ashford.  
When I started to school at Camp Ground in the third grade it was my first experience in riding a school bus which at that time was driven by Ernest House.  John was several years ahead of me, but he was friendly toward me which many older kids wouldn’t be.  
His brother Tom Ashford was a senior that year, so I don’t remember much about him other than he was friendly then and years later both of them were the same two friendly guys they had always been. Jim Peacock and I had lunch with John last year and other than being  older, John was just like he was the first time I saw him.  
Tom, like many country kids back then, apparently had to miss some time in school and graduated a  year or so later.
I remember at his graduation ceremony Mr. Reed said, “It seems like Tom Ashford has been going to school all his life.”          
Nevertheless after going through World War II, he graduated form Mississippi State and had a distinguished career in the school system. Even during that time he found time to raise cows and grow watermelons.  
John had over a 40-year career with Farm Bureau. Someone told me that he probably knew everybody in the surrounding area by their first name and I don’t doubt that it was true.
Tom told this story about when he was growing up. Times were hard and one morning they had corn bread for breakfast and Mr. Young looked at him and said, “ Tommy, you don’t like that do you?”
Tom said he replied, “No sir, I don’t.”
Mr. Young said, “You won’t have to have that again,” and Tom said he didn’t know how, but he never had that at breakfast again.  
In 1949 I had the sad duty to bring their father back home and be director at his funeral. All I can say is I’m glad to have known them over the years and my condolences to Clay and the rest of the family.
I really only got to know Wade when he returned from World War II and had the front chair in Claude Terry’s barber shop.
But, 65 years later he was the same Wade Doolin I knew then. Last  year when I visited him he told me he had been saving something for me. He gave me a laminated copy of the prayer that General Patton had ordered the Methodist Chaplain to write during the Battle of the Bulge. A copy was given to every man in his command.  
He also gave me a copy of the unit citation and typical Wade said, “Now you don’t have to write it up about me.”  
Wade recalled they had been fogged in for days and flights were impossible, but the next morning the sun was out and air lifts and strikes were begun and it spelled the end of Hitler’s Third Reich. Wade’s faith was so strong that he was still convinced the prayer made the difference and I believe he was right.  
This seems like a good place to stop for this week so let me hear from you.  
My email address is still cncooper1@hot or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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