1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


The Sweet Bird of Youth
Herman King 12-09

After graduating from Alderson High School, my family lived on Flat Top Mountain above Alderson for a while. My family had no colds or other sinus problems that first winter. My mother attributed this to the "pine in the air." Could be. That and the altitude. I loved living atop the mountain. The clean air, the lovely surroundings. (Don't know what it's like today, probably over-developed like everywhere else). I really became peripatetic then, at least within limited parameters. The simplest thing was an epiphany. A tiny exquisite wild iris so small I nearly stepped on it, the creamy effusion of dogwoods in the spring, and my favorite music: birdsong in the morning. More beautiful than a Mozart sonata. Actually this was the second time my family had lived on the mountain. We had lived closer to Wolf Creek before. I was very small then. I can still feel the sting of my bare feet hitting the sand as I ran to keep up with my two older brothers. The mischievous devils would take me far from the house and run off  in order to frighten me. But despite my shorter stature and legs, I could run almost as fast as they could. I was never far behind. I was quite  fleet of foot in my youth. I once entered a 440-yard relay during some sporting event at Alderson High School. I won my 110 yards. In later years I challenged one of my nieces who was athletic at the time  to a short sprint, which I won. She said to her mother: "Uncle Herman may be old but he sure can run fast." Of course the law of entropy (also known as aging) is taking its toll, along with arthritis and two pins in my legs from an accident I had in 1998.Today I couldn't outrun a turtle on crutches.  Ahh, the Sweet Bird of Youth. Remember that poignant song (the Nat King Cole version)? It flies away and in only one direction. But despite life's vicissitudes, despite the aches and pains and disappointments, I've enjoyed the journey. Although not a church-goer, I believe I've had a friend with me, as reliable as any companion animals (themselves more reliable than the humankind) and has guided me safely through several close encounters with the Grim Reaper. I have written my own epitaph:

Herman Stowell King (1929-?)

Take my hand blessed Savior,

Walk with me in the Fields of Forever.