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Former students gather at Purvis School reunion

Exie Garner Barley travels from the coal-mining country of Harlan County, Ky., every year back to her roots in the rural panhandle area of Warren County for a reunion. It's not just any reunion, but one with friends and former classmates at the old Purvis School House.

Mrs. Barley, who attended the school as a young girl, came up with the idea of having an annual get together at the old school a couple of years ago.

"It's so much fun," said Ms. Barley, now a widow. "We have the greatest time together. We all share a lot of memories about this old school. Most of us attended this school when we were little children. I went to a lot of schools, but Purvis has my heart."

Philip McGahee, of North Augusta, S.C., now retired from what was once known as Southern Bell Telephone Company, attended the recent Fourth Annual Purvis School House Reunion.

A 1958 graduate of Warrenton High School, Mr. McGahee, who now owns a photography studio, remembers playing the old piano that still sits on the stage of the old school house today.

"I remember playing on that piano during a recital when I was in the fourth grade," recalled Mr. McGahee. "I have a bunch of old memories about this school."

The reunion is nice, he pointed out, "because I get to see people that I don't get to see except once a year," said Mr. McGahee, noting that he makes plans every year to attend the school reunion that is held every fourth Saturday in June.

Mr. McGahee's sister, Betty Ann Gay, is married to Edward Gay, of Thomson - both former students - also attended the reunion.

"I think everybody who comes really enjoys themselves," said Mr. Gay, who attended Purvis School House through the eighth grade. Mr. Gay, who is retired from American Home Patient Company in Martinez and Thomson Company, now works delivering medicine for Moye Pharmacy in Thomson. He helped Ms. Barley organize the annual reunion.

"We sit around and talk a lot about things that happened when we were kids," said Mr. Gay. "We really enjoy those memories and the time we share with each other."

Martha Ann Mauck, a native of Glascock County, is another former student of the historic Purvis School House.

"I went to school here in the third, fourth and fifth grades," said Miss Mauck, who has never been married and still makes her home in the panhandle. "This was the best school I ever attended."

Roy Newsome, who now lives in Thomson and is another retired Thomson Company employee, shares the sentiments of fellow students who attended school there.

"We sit around and take turns listening to one another share stories about the past," said Mr. Newsome. "We have a lot of fun just being together - all of us."

One of the better story tellers attending this year's reunion was Annette Kitchens Key, who lives in Thomson.

"We've had some mighty good times out here at Purvis School House over the years," said Ms. Key, who is a retired sewing machine operator and now sells Avon products. "I wouldn't miss one of these reunions for anything."

Web posted on Thursday, July 10, 2008

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