John Shearer: Thoughts About Alice Lupton, Mountain Creek Elementary, And Vietnam Documentary

Friday, September 29, 2017 - by John Shearer
I have seen a few items in the media or by observation recently that caught my eye, and I wish I had more time to learn the full background stories or write about them in more detail.
But before they move too far into the distant past, I at least wanted to note or re-emphasize them briefly.
The first was about Alice Probasco Lupton, the widow of former Coca-Cola bottler and civic leader Jack Lupton and the sister of the late banker/civic leader “Scotty” Probasco.

She died on Aug. 31 at the age of 90, and what caught my eye the most was not how she had been a civic and church leader, as I already assumed, but rather how she led.
In one part of her obituary, it said, “She was an advocate for children while presiding over the boards of East Fifth Street Day Care Center, Little Miss Mag Day Care Center, and The Children's Home (now Chambliss Center for Children).”
What got me was the next paragraph, which stated, “She felt it a great accomplishment that each of these organizations became racially integrated under her presidency.”
She apparently welcomed all people instead of turning them away.
About two years ago, I was trying to write a story about the architect of some of the older and larger homes in Riverview. I decided to try to track her down, since I knew she had grown up in one of the homes.
I was able to find a landline number online, called her up somewhat nervously, but she kindly shared a few cherished childhood memories of the home and Riverview in general. I think she even told me that she and her husband actually did not really start dating until past the teenage years, even though they both grew up in Riverview.
Among the buildings making the obituary list recently, I was certainly sorry to learn that the old Mountain Creek Elementary building where Mountain Creek Road and the W Road meet was torn down. It apparently was razed back in April to make way for a larger self-storage facility, but for some reason I did not hear about the demolition until late summer.
And I saw for myself the now-vacant lot there just within the last two or three weeks while driving by the site.
It had not been used as a school for years, but it was an attractive and comforting reminder of the more pastoral and simpler days of Mountain Creek for the numerous motorists who passed it.
It would have been interesting to see if the building could have been saved, restored, and turned into some kind of residential or office facility, as has been done with some old school buildings.
And lastly, I enjoyed watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War over the last two weeks.
It ran either 90 minutes or two hours every night from Sunday through Thursday each of the last two weeks. I did not get to see all of it – maybe 80 percent of it – and my mind was preoccupied with doing other work some of the time while the TV was on in our den.
But from what I was able to watch, it seemed to have been wonderfully done. You had to pay close attention to follow all the many twists and turns of the war, but it was fascinating.
In 2017, the war has been mostly forgotten, except for the occasional opportunities to thank the veterans and collectively rehash whether the military or involvement strategy was correct.
But the documentary brought back how intense and controversial the time was when that war was taking place, and that not every American political or military leader handled the situation well or appropriately. Neither did every soldier act ethically, even though the vast majority did and most believe they are to be embraced today for their sacrifices.
Through film footage and interviews with a variety of people, it told an amazing story of a very sad war. Among the highlights for me were the interviews with Hal Kushner, a former POW. He had an enthusiastic and engaging manner of speaking kind of like former college coach Bill Curry or former Baylor headmaster Herb Barks Jr., and it was inspiring to hear. By his upbeat look or tone, he hardly gave any indication he had been imprisoned for so long.
The section in the final episode on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was especially touching, as it told how the wall – which was the brainchild of one former soldier -- was not initially well received by everyone. But then several veterans or family members of soldiers who were killed discussed how it turned out to be perfect with all the names displayed in a simple but unique setting.
My favorite part was the end of Tuesday’s episode, when the documentary focused on the unfortunate killing of four students at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970, by National Guardsmen during a protest.
I have written about that incident before and even traveled to Kent State in the early 1990s to visit the scene of the tragedy. But the brief segment brought out some facts I did not know, including that a professor helped turn students back and keep the tragedy from becoming even worse.
And then, as that episode was ending and the credits were rolling, they played the melancholy Neil Young rock song, “Ohio,” about the event.
It captured my attention greatly and re-emphasized how sad the whole war had been to most Americans, including even this then-young elementary school student following it all on the daily news.

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