You step out of the smoky honky tonk for a breath of fresh air. The night is foggy and the trees are dripping with rain. You hear the band inside playing songs of the day: “In the Mood,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” You’re back in the ‘40s. You have been waiting for the ragtime band to swing into “Rum and Coca-Cola,” but they haven’t played it yet and it’s getting late ...

“Do you want some more rum cake”? Ms. Patty Terry asked. And I am back in 2017.

Huh? What? Oh, no, I’m finished. And I walked away from the dinner table feeling as if something important had slipped by me. It’s funny how just a mention of an ordinary thing like rum and cake can carry you back to a time that you can’t possibly remember, but seems so very real.

Potpourri

Congratulations to Holli Chapman of Mountain Brook High School for placing third in the 400 meters in the state track meet with a time of 0:57.86. How do I know? Her mother, Moriah Nowlan Chapman, my student in the 1980s, told me so.

Ross Hudak and Jeff Martin are two hot guys. Know how I know? They won the Downtown Gadsden Chili Cook-Off Saturday. And how do I know? Claire Hudak Wiggley told me so.

Lance Batey and Tara Maddox were married in a quiet ceremony last week, Lance is the son of Yvonne Batey. And how do I know? His mother told me so. Tara married, so I’m told, her best friend, which is the best person to marry.

Gina and Jason Adams are celebrating their 20th anniversary. And how do I know? Gina herself told me; she said, “We did and we still do.”

Everybody knows Ben Pilitary, or Coach Pill. He was the coach and Alabama history teacher when I started my teaching career a few years ago. I was among several new teachers at Emma Sansom High School, and had no real room, I kinda wandered around, and Coach Pill kinda followed me around. I mean, I would teach English in a room and he would teach Alabama History right after me in the same room.

It was maybe six weeks before I noticed that the lunches I left in a desk drawer in the mornings were not there in the afternoons. After careful watching and detective work, Bubba Mathis and Roger Gardner, two seniors who had to take speech and would do anything to get out of class, discovered that Coach Pill was the lunch bandit. And how do I know? He didn’t even deny that he was the culprit, but asked me if I ever wanted a salami sandwich. Everyone has a favorite Coach Pill story.

Ben Pilitary turns 88 years old this year. He and his bride, Ida Jo, are a beloved couple who gave their entire lives to Gadsden and to Emma Sansom students. Their love story is a Valentine for the ages, ‘Round Town.

Glenda Byars is a correspondent for The Gadsden Times. Send submissions to glendabyars@comcast.net.