Friday, April 18, 2014

Change is Inevitable

Recently, I took a trip home to Alabama. In addition to visiting family, I took my husband to a place I worked for several summers while in high school and college, The State of Alabama Archives and History Department in Montgomery. At this museum, people can learn about the history of the state, but it also houses military and genealogical records.

The State of Alabama Department of Archives and History

My job there fit my personality because I got paid to smile and talk to people. As a docent, I told people about the Alabama Indians, the Civil War, Hank Williams, and George Wallace. Forty years later, I expected to walk into the building  to see it just the way I left it.

I was wrong. The whole place was remodeled into an interactive display of Alabama from original Indians to present. Here was another example of technology taking over human jobs, just like the self-checkout lines in many stores. I was impressed but also a little disappointed. I wanted my husband to see part of my past.

The displays at the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History

One change that I really appreciated, however, was a lecture hall dedicated Milo B. Howard, Jr., the former director. Mr. Howard was the epitome of chivalry. With his calm manner, he made all the female employees feel at ease and appreciated. He had an under-the-radar way of helping people, too. I know this because he was responsible for helping me finish college. 

Milo B. Howard, Jr.

I was a junior at Troy State University when my mom lost her job, and I didn't know if I'd be able to afford my last year of school. Word got to Mr. Howard about my situation, and he told me that he was the chairman of an unknown academic fund. Named the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Fund, this account held over $25,000, and I was the first person to borrow from it. Mr. Howard said the organization would loan me money at no interest. I could also set my own payback schedule and amount. All I had to do was write a research paper on Stonewall Jackson -- easy money for an English major.

My last time working at the Archives and History Department was in December 1979. I graduated in June 1980 and began teaching in August. Milo B. Howard, Jr. died in 1981. Without his help, I may not have had the career that I have.

I paid the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Fund back $60 per month for the next couple of years. I won't ever be able to repay the kindness of Milo B. Howard, Jr.

My visit to the museum was enjoyable and educational; it just wasn't the same. 

To quote Robert C. Gallagher, "Change is inevitable -- except from a vending machine."