December 11, 2003
Dear Mrs. Bishop,
How great to find you at last. I have been trying to find you for some time, and recently I learned that there was to be a reunion on October 26th of this year near McGehee for Kelso and Desha Central Alumni.. I attended the reunion and had a wonderful time seeing many of my grade school classmates. One of them (Betty Jean Henley) told me that your brother George might still live in McGehee. After I returned home I finally got around to obtaining his phone number from the McGehee Times circulation department. I telephoned his last Monday, the 8th and I explained who I was and what I was doing and that I wanted for a long time to write you a letter of thanks and appreciation. After we talked a while and he had confirmed my good intentions; he gave me your address.
My name is Louie Carter and many years ago I had the wonderful good fortune to cross your life's path when you were teaching sixth grade at Desha Central in 1950. It may have been your first teaching position; You were unmarried then and I knew you as Miss Goodwin. There is no reason for you to remember me. I was one of the many hundreds of children that passed through that school system. But I do remember you. I have many fond memories of that school year in 1950. I enjoyed school very much and the lessons were always interesting and challenging. But the ones I remember most are the ones of kindness that you showed towards me during those troubled days of my young life. You were the first genuinely kind person that I have ever known. My parents were just the opposite, unhappy, angry people who had few goals and aspirations for a better future. I dressed poorly and some of my classmates had begun to tease me about my (lack of) personal hygiene. It was at this time you gave me clothes that you said would no longer fit your brother. The clothes were colorful and clean and I was happy to have them and you rose even higher in my esteem. This had a lasting affect on me that I sensed but did not understand until some years later after I grew up.
I did not know at the time, but your kindness provided me with a "standard of measure" that I used during those lonely, horrible days. I compared my parents actions against those of my teacher. No matter how intense the abuse became at home I never lost sight of the fact that there was goodness in the world; there was an alternative to malevolence in the world, and that I had first hand knowledge of it-from you. You helped me to see the difference the irrational actions of my parents and your gracious help at school. I hope that you will see by the content of this letter that the road that I chose to take was the one you helped me see and appreciate. This is what I have been yearning to tell you all these years.
I realize that we live in a time when kneeling and bowing are associated with subjugation, but i use them as terms of respect. There are still some things that happen in this world that make a man want to kneel, bareheaded. your gracious kindness is one of them.