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200309 March 9, 2020


Linda Loriane Mefford
LHS '65
? - March 4, 2020

    Collins Wynn just informed us, "I received word this morning via a phone call that my first cousin and our Lee High classmate from 1964, Linda Lorraine Mefford, passed away on March 4, 2020.  She was the victim of a stroke and died in a Huntsville area hospital.  She was 73 years old.  Her family intends to have her cremated; plans for her service and interment are incomplete at this time."

Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    Last week I gave you the background story of my feeble attempt to learn foreign languages earlier in my life. I will use that information as the launching pad for this week’s update.

    In the knowledge brought on only by growing older, I have now decided one of my major problems in the past was trying to learn something because someone said I had to. I now feel there is a major difference in having to do something and wanting to do something. Even though it is well past the prime of my life and probably seems to many I am wasting what few precious moments I have left, I still have a goal of “re-learning” the French language I studied in high school.

    To me there is no mystery why such a goal has been set. As many of you are aware, Sue and I do a lot of traveling and even though I visited Paris in the Eighties and we went to Normandy Beach in 2018, I felt no reason to “brush up” on my language skills. As a matter of fact, in 2018 I took advantage of the new technology available to assist me on my travel.

    For those who do not keep up with computer related things, there is an application (app) for Smartphones, tablets, and computers called Google Translate. Do a web search for “Google Translate” and you will see it. It is a free multilingual statistical and neural machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text and websites from one language into another. All you do is type a word or sentence into one side of a screen in one language and it will be translated to a different language of your choice on the other side of the screen. And there are multiple languages from which to choose. Even better, if you use the camera of your smartphone and point it at a foreign sign, it will show the English translation on the screen. Yes! It really will. You can even speak a sentence into the phone’s microphone and it will play the translated sentence in the other chosen language on your phone's speaker.. Here are two Youtube video of the program. First here is a short one but still with a lot of details.

YouTube Video

    Here is another somewhat longer one from a different reviewer

YouTube Video

    On our 2018 trip I used Google Translate to navigate my way through the German train system using German and it was easy. I have also used it in Switzerland and Austria with the same success.

    But this time I want to try to regain the knowledge I once acquired through spending all that precious time in the Lee High School classroom.

    Once again you are probable asking yourself why does he want to do this. Here’s the simple answer. Later this year Sue and I are going to fly to Montreal, Canada, and take a 12-day “Snowbird Migration Cruise” from there to Miami, Florida. Besides Montreal, we will be visiting Quebec City; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Halifax; Saint John; Bar Harbor, Maine; New York City; Port Canaveral; and finally Miami. That will put a few more Hearts on my Facebook travel quiz.

    We never give the dates of when we will be away from the home so we don’t tempt someone to try to break into our house while we are gone, but it will be later this year. If you live in or plan to visit any of those places yourself this year, send me an email and we’ll compare notes and times.

    Again, why learn French if I am going to Canada? The agglomeration Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada, with over 59% of the population able to speak both English and French. Montreal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the developed world, after Paris.

    So, even though I will probably get by with English, I would like to at least try to understand the French language which I expect to encounter. Comprenez-vous?

     I am not using Google Translate to try to re-learn the language. I found another program which I believe is better for me. It is simple and can be free to those who do not want to get too advanced. The application can be downloaded from the app store and is called Duolingo. I highly recommend it to those who want to learn or brush up on a language.

    There is a companion app called Tinycards which I am also using and is also free. Tinycards is a flashcards app made by the team behind Duolingo, the most downloaded education app in the world. It is really just a bunch of flashcards which you have to translate.

    So, I have already started my study to give myself several months to work with the app to see how I can do. Since I will not be graded this time (no D’s or F’s) I hope the experience will be much more pleasant than it was back in 1963-64. http://www.

    "Au revoir mes vieux amis. Allez généraux. Nous sommes une famille." (Look it up on Google Translate).


        Memphis, TN - Be sure and check in next week as  The Traveller will feature a new series by Don Wynn, LHS '67. It is going to one I hope you all enjoy. This week will begin the major basketball tournaments for most conferences so those of you who enjoy that sport have a lot to look forward to.

    Once again I encourage any of you who wish to share news or memories with your classmates to please send them in to me.

Last Week's Name That Tune Group

Name That Tune

    Linda Collinsworth Provost and Jeffrey Fussell both named all the songs for last week.

    Jeffrey Fussell, LHS '66, "Hi, Tommy. Glad you are feeling better. I actually missed seeing a “Name That Tune” segment last week.  Guess I assumed it was losing general appeal and was time to move on.  Happy to see it back if only once more.  This week had some real familiar titles:"

“Twist & Shout” – Beatles
“The Twist” – Chubby Checker
“Peppermint Twist” – Joey Dee
“Twistin’ the Night Away” – Sam Cooke
“Let’s Twist Again” – Chubby Checker

This Week's Name That Tune Group

Name That Tune


Save the Date!
September 25 & 26, 2020
LHS Reunion
The Westin at Bridge Street
Huntsville, AL

More Information to Come Later
Reunion Contacts
Ann Wilson Redford (
Niles Prestage (
Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter (

This Week's Name That Tune Group



From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Foreign Languages

Janet Holland

LHS '67

    Next to band and choir, languages were my forte in high school. I loved them, even when taking all 3 at the same time. I had had Spanish in 6th grade, and I started with Latin in 9th. It seemed like, if you translated Caesar went out to fight, then set up camp and started it all over again the next morning, you pretty well got the gist of the loose translation Mrs. Grilliot allowed. It was a great start to my love of Latin in sacred music and liturgy, which I didn't really know well until St. Mark's Lutheran Church, where I was cantor 15 years.

    Next came French. Mrs. MacIlveen was tough, and French wasn't as easy for me because of all the silent endings. I liked the German words; all the letters were pronounced. But she was a neighbor, so I tried hard. Leslie Vaughn and I tied for the award we won.

    Then came German. I came to it late, 3 weeks late, because I hated Physics, and I wasn't impressed with my teacher coloring her hair a different color every week, sometimes pinkish or bluish, and sitting on her desk, flirting with the boys. I remember my first day at German class I had a test, lined up against the wall, each answering a question. I promised I would catch up by my first day, and did. I loved German, though I thought it was unfair that all the scientist's children could understand it, even if they weren't great at speaking and reading. Oh, well....just made me work harder. I loved the many idioms and double, triple words attached to another, and how easy it was to understand each word. Mrs. Grilliot, again, was very kind and sweet. I ran into her son at St. Thomas before I left Huntsville.

    But the most fun came from Bob Harvey. He was the quarterback at Butler who came in senior year and had to finish his German with the only school that taught it. General Harvey knew my parents and our best friends in the Army, and I knew Bob, but no cross-over. Years later, when my parents attended the wedding of my brother Lee's ('65) wife's sister's wedding (sorry), they were discussing me at a wedding party, and a man came over and said, are you speaking of Janet James from Huntsville? Bob Harvey. Small world.

    Anyway, the wonderful thing about these languages is how much they helped me singing art songs. It was very easy to follow the text and know what I was singing about, and I carried this on to my students. I'm sure it helped me carry this on with my daughter, who is an opera singer.

    Now, after these languages, I am fascinated with words: as simple as vocabulary to where they were transported from across our continents as people traveled. I was once at an Indian party for one of my students, and Dr. Kakani said, did you said your cat's name was Shanti? Yes, intentionally. Shanti. Peace.

Subject:    High School French

Curt Lewis

    I took French in high school primarily because I could.  There was no advance planning involving actual utility or future academic pursuits; language instruction was available on an elective basis and I chose a language.  Unlike many of my (mostly more intelligent) friends who chose Latin as a gateway to future careers in science, I selected French because I felt there was at least a remote prospect of practicing it in the foreseeable future.

    There was no appreciable Spanish-speaking populace in the Huntsville area during my high school years.  This was also true for French, but I had visited Canada on family vacations and discovered that French was the primary conversational language in Montreal and especially in Quebec.  So French it was for me.

    Dorothy McIlveen was my French teacher.  Mrs. McIlveen was a true aficionado of the French language and culture, and did her best to pass that along to her students.  I was taken aback by the apparent differences between the words on the page and the pronunciations when I attended the first class.  I floundered for awhile but gradually began to catch on, at least to the written aspects of the language.  

    Conversational French was a different story.  Every language seems to have its own sound, and I thought of the French language sound as “constipated”.  Mrs. McIlveen made a heroic effort to initiate her students in the conversational aspects of the French language, but there were limits on how much could be done with a classroom full of southerners.  I seem to remember cringe-worthy moments of alternating students reading aloud from designated French text.

    I never became conversational in French, but benefited immensely in terms of my understanding of the English language.  In studying the structure of a foreign language, you become so much more aware of the structure and peculiarities of your native language, especially in the area of idiomatic expressions.  This proved valuable in communicating with non-native-English speakers later in my career.

    I guess if there is a moral to this story, it is one attributed to the late and great Yogi Berra:  “If you reach a fork in the road, take it.”

Subject: Rock N Roll Reunion 2020
Linda Brown Mann
LHS' 65
    Please remind everyone about the Rock N Roll Reunion coming this year in June.  I think held at Elks Club downtown Huntsville. A couple Lee graduates play in it every year.


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