“The Old South will never die, not as long as there are darling debutantes, doting docents, indomitable dowagers, and other groups of proud Southern women like the Junior League, the Ya Ya Sisterhood, the Sweet Potato Queens, the Steel Magnolias—and the Maggie [McGehee] Clique!”
–Quote by Jimmy Peacock in letter
to Charles Allbright dated June 10, 2002
The following entry is made up of tributes that I wrote and sent to the Clique, a group of women who were special classmates and friends of Mari’s in the 1960 Class of McGehee (pronounced Magee) High School.
There are two important facts about these special young women. The first is that, along with two or three of my male friends, I dated, double-dated, or “buddied” with most of these “girls” back in the Archie and Reggie, Veronica and Betty days of our youth.
The second fact is that I “went steady with” one of the girls for two years and dated and married another. The history of that “eternal triangle” and the love story that came out of it will be presented in a later post. For now let’s view selections from the annual tributes of flowers and poetry that I have sent to these “girls” every year they have met since 1991–twenty years–which must be some kind of record.
Select Annual Tributes from Jimmy
to Mari’s High School Clique
All Based on Theme: “Lest We Forget . . .”
Soft Southern belles from McGehee,
Steel magnolias with hearts young and free,
Each a homecoming queen,
Who lives forever in fond memory.
1992 Tulsa, OK (sent with accompanying card and bottle of champagne)—the “girls’“ 50th birthday celebration.
Like vintage wine,
Grow ever sweeter
With passing time.
1993 Magnolia House, McGehee, AR (sent with card and bouquet)
The Clique . . .
as described in a paraphrased quotation
from an episode of the TV show “Designing Women”
by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason
(Only the names were changed)
“Yesterday in my mind’s eye I saw several women standing on a veranda in white gauzy dresses and straw-colored hats. They were having a conversation . . . and it was hot . . . their hankies tucked in cleavages where eternal trickles of perspiration run from the female breastbone to exotic vacation spots that Southern men often dream about.
“They were sweet-smelling, coy, cunning, voluptuous, voracious, delicious, pernicious, vexing, and sexy . . . these earth-sister Rebel mothers, these arousers and carousers . . . and I was filled with a longing to join them.
“But like a whim of Scarlett’s, they turned suddenly and went inside, shutting me out with a bolt of a latch, and I was left only to pick up an abandoned handkerchief and scan the perfumed shadows of these women . . . these Southern women: this Judy, this Leta, this Mary Emily, this Sylvia, this Wanda Sue, this Frances, this Adrianne, this Martha and Mari.
“Thanks for the comfort.”
1997 Memphis, TN (sent with accompanying card and Magnolia bouquet)
Southern Belles Always Ring True
1998 Waco, TX (sent with accompanying Magnolia card and bouquet)
TO: The Clique, the flower of Southern womanhood
FROM: Those for whom the Belles toil
1999 McGehee, AR (sent with FORGET ME NOT card and flowers)
As a former teacher
I can say without reserve
That the Clique ranks highest
On the Southern Belle Curve!
2000 McGehee, AR (sent with card and red and white roses, McGehee High School colors)
To get the Maggie Clique
To return to McGehee,
Just tie a “ya ya” ribbon
‘Round the old oak tree.
Verse in card with flowers (Clique’s 40th high school graduation)
Our alma mater’s Maggie,
Her colors red and white,
To Maggie we’ll we loyal,
For her we will fight.
2003 Antebellum Jefferson, TX (sent with card and yellow roses)
No Yellow Roses of Texas,
As sweet and lovely though they be,
Could ever hope to compare with
The Steel Magnolias of McGehee.
2004 Salado, TX (sent with summer card and bouquet)
An Exile’s Lament
2004 Tribute to the Clique
I’ve met some folks who say that I’m a dreamer,
And I’ve no doubt there’s truth in what they say.
For sure a body’s bound to be a dreamer,
When all the things he loved have passed away.
And precious things are dreams to an exile,
They take him to a place he cannot be.
Especially when it happens he’s an exile,
From friends and times he knew in Old McGehee.
But dreams don’t last, tho’ dreams are not forgotten,
When we return to stern reality.
And were I offered all the ladies here in exile,
I still would choose the Clique from Dear Maggie.
I still would choose the Clique from Dear Maggie.
—Paraphrase of Isle of Innisfree
2005 Hot Springs, AR (sent with card and bouquet)
FROM: A Melancholy Arkie of the Covenant
TO: The Heavenly Creatures in the Holy Land
Condemned to lonely exile here,
I get so danged homesick.
The only thing that gives me joy,
Is thinking about the Clique.
Remember me when thou comest into the Kingdom!
2006 Hot Springs, AR (sent with card and bouquet)
An Exile’s Lament (con’t)
While you ladies get together there in Arkansas,
I’ll be out here in lonesome misery.
As you sit and watch the moon rise in the Ouachita,
Perhaps you’ll give a fleeting thought to me.
For if there is going to be a life hereafter,
And somehow I am sure there’s going to be,
I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven,
Where that dear Clique is meeting without me.
—Paraphrase of Galway Bay
2007 Hot Springs, AR (sent with bouquet of spring flowers)
Of all the girls that my mind might pick,
My heart never strays outside of the Clique.
(Sent with book SWAG, Southern Women Aging Gracefully, and a musical Gone With the Wind card playing “Tara’s Theme”)
The Clique never shows either spot or wrinkle
For as everyone knows, Southern Belles never tinkle!
2008 Hot Springs, AR (sent with a dozen pink roses)
Tho’ many miles and years have kept us apart,
The sweet sound of the Belles still chimes in my heart.
2009 Hot Springs, AR (sent with a card and a dozen pink roses – Mari’s “signature color”)
The older I get
The more my raison d’être
Becomes praising the Clique
In Southern Belles Lettres.
2011 Hot Springs, AR (sent with a card and a bouquet of spring flowers)
So many faces
And none of them thine.
So many smiles
And none of them mine.
So many joys
And all of them gone.
So many places
And none of them HOME!
Have a wonderful time!
A Note to the Clique:
Thanks for giving Mari the sweetest moments of her youth, and the most cherished memories of her golden years.