Written by Canton native Randy Saxon, guest speaker at the 49th annual Canton High School Reunion.
“I was given the privilege of being the guest speaker at the 49th Canton High School Reunion. (Thank you Karen Manous Smithwick) Imagine if you can, that one who graduated in 1946 was attending their 70th reunion. By the way, there were some from earlier classes than 1946. Just amazing! The topic was historic preservation, something I am happy to say, I can talk about without notes. But for me the topic was secondary to the company I was in.
These were people of my parents’ generation whom I had grown up knowing and admiring; people who were the movers and shakers of my childhood; teachers, bankers, lawyers, businessmen and women. ….
This is the second of these reunions I have been blessed to attend. I went with Dad last year and sat in awe of the stories that I heard from around the table. I know now that it’s true that your high school days tend to stay in your memory forever because 60 years later they told them as if they happened last week. Stories of football, baseball, basketball and teachers and events that shaped their lives gave me a glimpse into history.
…. I felt like I was delivering a message from my generation to theirs. That message was that we have a strong respect for history and historic places; that what you built in this town will not be forgotten and the buildings where those still-fresh stories took place and where the treasured memories were engraved on your hearts will remain and serve a new generation. So there is a covenant on those buildings that says they will never be torn down. How sweet it is to be able to say that when less than two years ago they were slated for the wrecking ball. I shared with them the hard work of the Cherokee County Historical Society and the new advocate on the block, the Canton Historic Preservation Committee. Both will work to ensure we don’t lose more of our historic buildings. I would have been remiss not to mention the work, foresight and commitment of Mayor Gene Hobgood and the city council as they were the main reason that wrecking ball never came to town. I also shared that with this new redevelopment project coming to the site that the new buildings would match the historic architecture already in place so that 100 years from now people will look at it and admire how building built 100 years apart can link the past and the future.
Closing the event I wanted to share with them my appreciation for the foundation they had laid and how much respect I have for their generation.”