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Seedlings, trees and friendships

During high school, I enjoyed singing in the choir at Trading Ford Baptist Church on Long Ferry Road. With a choir of about 20, it was customary to introduce new members, making them feel welcome. One Wednesday night more than 40 years ago, choir director Edwin Koontz introduced Melvene Goodman.
Not long after that introduction, they announced their engagement and were married the following summer by Rev. Banks Mullis, the pastor of Trading Ford at the time.
After graduating from North Rowan High School, I went on to what was then known as Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs. As the years passed, I lost touch with Melvene and Edwin until recently. Melvene and Edwin enjoy K&W Cafeteria, like my mom and I, so we average seeing them about once a week. If we finish our meal first, we’ll stop by their table to chat and vice versa. One day when Melvene stopped to chat, she mentioned something about checking on her tree farms. Surprised, my ears perked up and I quickly asked what she meant.
“Oh,” she said, “Didn’t you know I have tree farms?”
Shaking my head, I said, “No, I didn’t.”
A few weeks later, I made a visit to Edwin and Melvene’s house on Long Ferry Road to learn more.
With Edwin’s coaching, Melvene shared the story of how she came to have tree farms. She said when she was a child growing up in Richfield, her mom, Nora Brown Goodman, and dad, Leland Quincy Goodman, ran a general store next to the Roller Mill. After retirement, her dad began growing trees. Melvene loved helping her dad plant trees and watch them grow so much, when her mom and dad passed away, she decided to plant trees on the land she was given. That was more than 30 years ago.
The neat thing about this story is that Melvene planted a lot of the trees herself from seedlings. “Why not?” she said. “That’s the way I did it for my dad.”
While growing up in Richfield, Melvene was somewhat of a tomboy, falling in love with the outdoors when just a little girl. She laughingly talked about riding horses, pulling cows out of the creek, getting under her neighbor’s house to find chicken eggs and picking up rocks to make wells from natural springs.
It seems Melvene’s talents, however, extended beyond the outdoors because, according to her, she was quite the basketball player. Edwin quickly chimed and said, “She even won the MVP at a conference tournament in high school and has the trophy to prove it.”
When Melvene played basketball for Richfield High School, during the World War II years, people didn’t have money for entertainment, so high school sports became a community pastime. The high school didn’t have a gymnasium then, so someone built what became known as the “Old Barn.”
Listening to Melvene’s story, I couldn’t help but think back to the years we sang in the choir together. I had no idea she was a tomboy, played basketball or planted trees. I also didn’t know her Uncle Enoch and Uncle Linus Goodman were the original owners of Goodman Lumber Co., with her dad helping his brothers by growing some of the pine trees for the company. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is, when we take the time to really get to know people, we might be surprised at the treasures we find.
There’s no doubt Melvene is one smart lady. By planting trees years ago, not only has she helped the environment, the economy and Rowan County, but through her example, her family will reap the benefits for generations to come. And to think, it all started because Melvene loved to help her dad plant trees. Now, where’s my seed catalog?

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.

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