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Favorite photo gets in Fannie's scrapbook

Bill Brinkley was just aiming to please.

His feelings weren’t a bit hurt when Fannie Gaither said she liked a picture that Jon C. Lakey, a Salisbury Post photographer, took of her recently better than she liked the picture Bill took for a scrapbook he made for her when she turned 100.

So naturally Bill got on the hunt for Jon’s picture, which he’d taken for a Pfeiffer College publication, to go in the scrapbook Bill made for his old family friend on her 100th birthday, and he hopes she’ll cherish it.

It shows everybody who helped her celebrate at Shiloh Methodist Church back in October “and there must have been at least 150 people there,” he says.

That’s a lot of pictures of a lot of good friends.

So if she liked Jon’s picture better than Bill’s, Bill isn’t a bit bothered. After all, Jon’s a professional, and Bill just takes a bunch of pictures for fun.

“I’ve got 90-some CD’s of family pictures,” he says, “and some of them have 20 pages of pictures. My wife’s oldest sister died, and she had made pictures of the family, and I copied 560 pictures on the computer and made a book for the family with all those pictures and names under all of them.

“And I wanted to make Fannie a picture book of that day, of her celebrating her 100th birthday.”

After all, he’s kind of the photographer for the church, and he made pictures of people hugging her and talking and drinking punch and eating lunch. Did he ever take so many pictures?

“But I didn’t have a good picture of her, and I didn’t try to get any names. I just got pictures of church people, her family and friends hugging her and talking.

“And I’ve already given it to her, but she gave it back to me. She liked another picture better. I’m just trying to please.”

So he had to get a copy of that other picture, and nobody doubted that he would.

Get him to talking, friends say, “and you’ll find out he can do most anything,” not just take a picture of a 100-year-old old friend and most of her friends.

Professionally his W.F. Brinkley and Son Construction Co. built bridges — the longest is over 1,000 feet long over the Yadkin on N.C. 49 — and the Oak Island Light House and grain elevators and — well, it would take too long to talk about all the things he’s done, and on this day he’s interested in Fannie Frick Gaither who turned 100.

She’s believed to be the oldest living alumna of what is now Pfeiffer University.

It was called Mitchell School when she was there but it became Pfeiffer Junior College in 1935 and then a four-year college in 1955 and is now a university.

And at her birthday party guests asked her if she remembered those college days.

“I sure do,” she said.

“We stayed in the dormitory and were chaperoned practically everywhere.

“I took classes in cooking, sewing, English, math, history, two years of foreign language and nursing, but not much nursing. Just making beds and caring for people. And I played on the basketball team, too.”

And she worked because all the girls had to work.

“We rotated jobs every six weeks or so,” she remembered. “We did things like making bread and taking care of the faculty table.”

And they had study hall at night,” and went to church morning and night on Sunday and had prayer meeting when they got back to the residence hall.

But a year before she graduated, she was engaged to be married and didn’t go back, and she often wished she could have taught school, but didn’t regret getting married and raising her four children.

And she points out Pfeiffer went from a home school in the 1920s to a university today, and she remembers it all, just like Bill Brinkley remembers World War II and his early experiences in construction when he got home.

He and his company built the stadiums at Boyden, North Rowan and East Rowan High Schools and one in Lexington.

“But the biggest thing we built were bridges — 100 or more — with the longest over 1,000 feet long over the Yadkin on Highway 49.

“And we built water plants and sewer plants and the lighthouse at Oak Island and grain elevators …. ”

And they built friendships that last.

That’s why Bill Brinkley presented his old friend, Fannie Gaither, with a scrapbook of pictures of herself and all the friends who came to her 100th birthday party.

And it didn’t bother him a bit when she told him she loved the scrapbook but added that she liked the picture Jon Lakey made of her for a story about Pfeiffer College when she was a student in its early years better than the picture Bill Brinkley took of her at her 100th birthday party.

No problem, he said.

He’ll just get hold of Jon Lakey, and she’ll have a copy of the picture she likes best.

He likes to do more than aiming to please.

For a man who spent World War II on a battleship, that’s a pretty easy thing to do.

Contact Rose Post at 704-797-4251 or rpost@salisburypost.com.

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