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190520 May 20, 2019

Mike Smith
LHS '64
? - May 18, 2019

    Michael Bruce Smith, 73, of Huntsville, passed away Saturday.

    Survivors include his wife, Terri Smith; two sons, Joshua Smith and Caleb Smith (Raynah); two granddaughters, Ella Smith and Julia Smith; two brothers, Larry Layne (Royce) and Keith Layne; and sister, Kathy Blevins.

    Mr. Smith was preceded in death by his brother, Don Smith.

    Visitation will be Tuesday, May 21st from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Berryhill Funeral Home. Chapel service will be Wednesday, May 22nd at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Hal Howard and Larry Layne officiating.  Burial will follow at Maple Hill Cemetery. 

        Memphis, TN - I got almost simultaneous notifications from Dale Thompson and Niles Prestage about the passing of Mike Smith, LHS '64. No official notifications about the service plans are know at this time. 

    I'm on my way home from attending the Air Show at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport LA.

A Trip Home

Collins (C.E. Wynn

LHS '64

This is an edited, but not heavily redacted, version of a story I wrote at least 15 years ago dealing with a ‘going home’ experience I had.  Some comments have been added near the end dealing with a similar experience I had going home to Lee High School a few years before that.


Some months ago, I visited a friend of mine's wife who was in Huntsville Hospital battling cancer. I drove up from the gulf coast alone and got into town around 3p. I had planned to be at the Hospital at 6p, so I used the few hours I had just driving the streets for a while visiting my parents and grandparents in our cemeteries plus wandering through some old neighborhoods.

I stopped in Mullins for a while, sat at the counter eating a hamburger with pickles and mayo, and listening to the general conversation. I noticed with some pride that a few of my old football pictures were hanging on the wall but I was really, really proud to see my Dad's picture as a Huntsville Police Officer hanging on the left-hand side of the door as I was leaving (circa 1957 or 1958).

I still had a few minutes when I left Mullins so, in the dusk and on a whim, I made two more brief stops. First, I turned north on Andrew Jackson and pulled into the parking lot of the Jackson Way Styling Salon. I walked in the door and asked if Floyd Hardin was there - the only guy in the room was standing with his back to the door. He immediately turned around, walked straight up me, hugged my neck, and said "Dad gum, Mabel, where you been so long?" He knew exactly who I was even though I now have a beard, a ponytail, 10 extra pounds and bald on top not to mention being 56 years old and that I had not seen him in 34 years. It was a delight to sit and talk with him for a half hour or so. I left a message with him for all my old friends that he still sees. Mike Smith and Walt Thomas know the story of how I came to be called "Mabel" in the neighborhood, so we can leave that for another time.

After leaving Floyd’s, I made a quick turn west on Humes Avenue and saw a guy cutting his grass in what used to be Mike Smith’s front yard across from the old Woodmen of the World hall. I casually pulled over and hopped out of my car and walked up to the guy. He cut the engine and I asked him “Hey, are you Billy Layne?”  (Billy was Mike Smith’s stepdad). His response was typical for Billy; “Depends on who wants to know!” he said. When I told him who I was he grabbed me by the arm and said essentially the same thing Floyd had except with a little more enthusiasm “Boy, where’ve you been all these years?” I had a few minutes before I had to go, so we could talk for only just a bit. Mike’s mom was at the grocery, so I missed her. I asked Billy to pass on my regards to her and Mike.

After visiting my friends in the hospital that night I left and drove directly back to south Alabama. What a wonderful feeling to come home again if only for a few minutes.


During the summer of 1997 I was in Huntsville on a business trip and took a few idle minutes to drive by Lee High School for a short and quick trip down memory lane; however, the experience did not turn out quite the way I expected.  I parked in the front of the school on the circle drive and my first surprise was to find, when I walked up to the main doors near the auditorium doors and stairways, the doors were chained shut (heavy chains and large locks). After a few minutes of pondering, I wandered around the side and found some doors open.  I walked on up into the lobby of the office and asked if I could look around the school for a few minutes. And that is what I did for half an hour or so.

Some features of the school were as I remembered, and some were not, but that should have been expected I suppose considering the school was about 50 years old at the time.  Without thinking of it consciously I expected the hallways would be filled with memorabilia from all the students who had walked the halls over all those years, but that was not the case.  The school was almost entirely sterile; no photographs, no plaques, nor any other sign of prior habitation although there were a few motivational posters on the wall in the office.

So, I wandered up and down the halls for a few minutes with an increasing feeling of unease and yearning.  After half hour or so I walked back to my car and left. 3 or 4 days later it dawned on me why I was so unsettled with my visit to Lee High School that day.  What I went looking for there was not to be found. My friends were all gone and without them the building was just a quiet and empty shell. It was a sad and sobering experience on many levels.

Going home is just some idea that will always be filled melancholy.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    The Swingin' Medallions

Greg Patterson 

LHS '68

    This band played at our Class of 1968 Senior Prom and at our 20 year Reunion. About 10 years ago they started playing at a fundraiser here in Huntsville every spring for the Greengate School. This year it was at the Burritt Museum. 

    Stay in touch with me and I will let you know the date. 

Subject:    Huntsville
Darla Gentry Steinberg

    I have not lived in Huntsville since graduating from college. I lived 6 years in Miami before moving to Atlanta, a much closer drive to home! My family and close friends are still in Huntsville or nearby so I visit often. I can still remember the shock of driving to get my fill of dipped dogs at Zesto...and it was gone! Really...gone. I could not believe it. Then Mullins disappeared, too. Sad, sad, sad....  

Subject:    Huntsville
Dianne Hughey McClure
LHS '64

    With the exception of a couple of years when Ronnie was in the Navy I have lived in Huntsville all my life. Sometimes I think I should have been more adventurous and moved around more. I have all the memories you mentioned but I have watched a lot of the objects of those change and disappear or be replaced. I have had the privilege of being close to most of my family and see most of my grandchildren and all of my children graduate from Lee High School. So all things considered I would not change being a Huntsvillian.



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