Bristol should be very proud of the recent news that King College was recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Southeast College.” The history of King College has been firmly entwined with the history of Bristol since 1866. With that spirit in mind, I would like to share with you a reprint of an article written on February 12, 2010, for Associated Content/Yahoo about a very unusual meeting that took place between two King College Cheerleaders: the late Mrs. Helen Hurt and my daughter, Melissa. This story remains my favorite of any article I have ever written in any venue. Enjoy.
King College Cheerleaders Meet Across the Generations
King College Cheerleader, 20, Meets Original King College Cheerleader, 91!
When 20-year old Melissa Garrett visited her Grandmother in National Health Care, a skilled nursing facility in Bristol, Virginia, she did not expect to connect with the 91 year old lady in the room with her grandmother. She knew that by coincidence, the two ladies were third cousins and had ended up in the room together, renewing acquaintance from years gone by. This in itself is not that unusual in this small town, where connections like this are common.
What Melissa, a cheerleader at King College, did not know was that Mrs.Helen Hurt had helped form the first Cheerleading Squad that King College had ever had! In the 1940’s ( in the years right before World War II), Helen Jones, as she was then, was a student at King College, dating a football player!
This was a poignant and delightful afternoon for them both. It was quite historical to watch the conversation. It was momentous…something that one wouldn’t see again. As they posed for a picture, you couldn’t help but marvel at the differences between the generations, but yet the similarities, too. For a few moments, Mrs. Hurt’s eyes twinkled with the youthful memories of a young college girl. Melissa seemed to sense a connection to the history and tradition of her college and its community.
She told Melissa how she and two other ground-breaking girls formed a cheerleading squad to cheer for the then very successful and famous King College Football team, which ceased to exist many years ago at King College. As she tells Melissa about exactly where the football practice field was on campus, one almost forgets the passing of time. Her boyfriend, and later husband, was a star player. Her son, who visits her regularly, was named after the football coach, Coach Jackson.
(You can access pictures of Mrs. Hurt in her original uniform and the current King Cheerleaders in the slideshow to the left of this article.)
The college no longer has the team or the practice field, with soccer having been the only Football on campus for many years. She talks with relish about how the three trail-blazing cheerleaders would go to all the football games. Her father would load them up and drive them to the away games because the college didn’t provide transportation. Presently, the cheerleaders cheer for basketball games and only attend a few away games, such as Milligan and Virginia Intermont. They also take part in National Cheerleading Competitions.
This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for Melissa to touch the past in a way that she will always remember. And, for a moment, it seemed, Mrs. Hurt was able to touch a part of her life that would live on in this new generation. She seemed fully aware that she was the reason this young lady was there!
Post Script: Sadly, Mrs. Helen Hurt passed away on February 23, 2010, around a week after this meeting took place. She had been delighted when she had seen a copy of this article, just days prior to her quiet passing.
A group of King College Cheerleaders attended her funeral service, in uniform, at Virginia Avenue Methodist Church on February 27, 2010, to honor this special lady and her contribution to King College.
Mrs. Helen Hurt touched many lives through her teaching, church, and community involvement, and this was evident by the overwhelming attendance at her service. She had a special, pleasant gentleness about her that made her a joy to those who she met. She will be greatly missed.
You can find The Bristol Buzz Examiner on Facebook or visit her blog, At Home With Barbie.