School's start this year was quite different for Janie Nowell who had served as Director of Daycare at First Methodist Church for 30 years come September. Having retired in May 2008, instead of some 75 students at the beginning of this school year, Janie's enrollment was down to one. Talk about partiality! When Mamaw Janie left her post, she took 18-month-old Matthew Nowell, son of Lisa and Greg Nowell, with her. Asking her about her retirement, Janie replied, "I'm loving it! We have no schedule. Matthew naps in the mornings and again in the afternoon if we can find time in all the fun things we like to do. Matthew doesn't talk much, but he doesn't need to. He just leads me and Papaw Joe around by the finger." Together Mamaw and Matthew meet the bus at First Methodist in the afternoons when Anna Katherine, 13, and Zack, 9, come from school at Leake Academy.

Come early, stay late. That's a Fair policy many of us share with Jan and Robert Partin who come from Mena, Ark. to their Fair cabin each year. Joining them were their children and grandchildren, all from Houston, Texas. They were Emmye Partin, Justin Partin and B.J. and Brandye Partin Drager. Brandye and B.J.'s children's' names, Lane Daniel, Georgia Elizabeth and Cook Reynolds, identify their Neshoba County, House community heritage. Lane Daniel is named for Jan's grandfather, D.O. Brantley, Georgia Elizabeth for Brandye's grandfather, George Posey, and Georgia's great-aunt Elizabeth May Fulton, and Cook Reynolds for Jan's daddy, Cook May, and Brandye's grandmother, Ola Reynolds Posey.

Robert, who was raised in Meridian, came to Philadelphia with U.S. Electrical Motors after graduating from Mississippi Southern in 1966. He and Jan built their Fair cabin on Shady Lane more than 30 years ago. The aroma of the sausage Robert and Ben Marshall smoked on the grill behind their cabins still drifts through the air every morning past midnight, or is that just one of those wonderful memories which make the Fair everlasting!

Special guests in the Partin cabin this year were Jean and Carl Nowell of Montgomery, Ala. Carl and Jan's daddy, Cook May, were lifetime friends. During World War II they were members of the 43rd Ordinance Evacuation Company which served in the European Theatre of Operations under General Patton. When Justin, as a member of the Texas Army National Guard, graduated as a 2nd lieutenant from Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. in May 2008, Carl had the esteemed honor of pinning the Lieutenant Bar on the uniform of his best friend's grandson and giving him his first salute. What a memory! Chris Tiemann, also of Houston, attended his first Fair with the Partins and loved it.

Robert called it to my attention that on pages 62-64 in Steve Stubbs' book, "Neshoba at War", there is an account of when Cook May and Carl Nowell, along with four other Neshoba countians, Samuel R. Bates, James D. Land, Jr., Jones C. (Sonny) Brantley and Alcie O. Fulton, joined the Army together on May 14, 1943, at Camp Shelby, Miss. after which they were assigned to the 43rd Ordinance Evacuation Company. They returned to Neshoba County in the last months of 1945, still together, after having served in the European Theatre of Operations under General Patton.

Like anything you want to do well, you have to build toward your goal. Those gold medalists at the Olympics weren't overnight successes. So it is with the Fair Food Marathon which we indulge in each year at the Fair. The Supper Club began training for this 24-7 eat-a-long in May when Steve and Pam Breland entertained fellow members with supper at their Fair cabin. In June they progressed to Chuck and Kim McClain's cabin, and moving with the Bates family cabin in July, they passed the final test with Stan and Debbie Webb as their hosts. Ready for all the food the Fair could dish up were this group of friends who have been "supped" together for over 15 years, who include Chuck and Kim McClain, Steve and Pam Breland, Kent and Mitzi Stribling, Bud and Mandy Dees, Mike and Tracy Tinsley, Rudy and Lisa Posey and Stan and Debbie Webb.

Joining them as guests at the June training session hosted by Kim and Chuck were Fair neighbor, Lan Pickle, Debbie's sister, Tammy Lee, and their daughter, Chelsea McClain.

The "Dobbs House" on Sunset Strip was full of little ones this year. Laura Bryan and Betty and Charles Bond enjoyed every minute of seeing their grandchildren have fun. However, things could get rather hectic at times with "six under six." Laura's daughter, Lee Adams, and Shannon were there for the week with children, Will, almost 6, Ben, 3, and Charlie, 1. Betty's daughter, Melanie Yates and Rob were there with children, Reed, 2, and Luke, 7 weeks.

Also, longtime friends belonging to the Dobbs House were Laura and Taylor Harris with daughter Hailey, 3. Laura and Taylor will be bringing the next new baby to the 2009 Fair!

Judy and Danny Spencer of Starkville and Linda Cravey of Waynesboro spent the weekend with their aunt, Aileene Oldham. "Was it some special occasion" I asked Aileene. "It's always special when they come," Aileene told me.

Aileene asked that I, through the medium of Friends, extend an invitation to you to become a member of the Clay Bluff Art Association. Membership is not limited to talented artists, but to anyone who has an interest in art. The group meets at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month in the Arts Council office next door to the old Strand Theater on Center Avenue. They meet, discuss and paint. As a bonus, Bruce Guraedy, recently retired art instructor at East Central Community College, "critiques our work and makes suggestions on improvements," Aileene told me, "which is a great way to learn." If you wold like further information, you may call Aileene, but this is all the invitation you need to attend. Bring your brushes and join the fun. Share ideas and paint. The interest you have in art may release talent you didn't know you had.

The mention of Bucatunna and State Line, Miss. stirs all the fun memories of trips to Gulf Shores. I have just learned that if just past Bucatunna you take a right to Chicora, and then a left, cross the creek, you'll come to Providence United Methodist Church. This little white church in the woods is the scene of the Robertson-Douglas-Rigney family reunion the second Sunday of every August which Joanna Robertson Hedgepeth, Michael, Kreszenz, Christopher and Heather attended last Sunday.