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Happy birthday to you

I do not do this very often. In fact, I am not sure I have ever done it before, but I am going to take the plunge this week and share information about an occasion I think all of you should consider putting on your calendar for Saturday.

No, no, it is not the citywide garage sale or the community track meet, although both are valid reasons to get out and about in Peabody for the day and have an adventure.

The event I want to encourage you to attend on Saturday is a come-and-go birthday celebration for one of my favorite Peabody individuals, Irvin McPheeters. His extended family has invited everyone to help them honor him as he becomes Peabody’s newest 90-year old. The party is from 3 to 5 p.m. at Peabody Senior Center and everyone is invited.

Irvin was one of the first people I met when we came to Peabody. We arrived at the end of July in 1970 and moved into a rental house on Olive Street. The Mister went off to work for the school district, with instructions to have the Warrior marching band ready to perform at the Marion County Fair in Hillsboro a couple of weeks later.

Back in those days, the now-Married Daughter was just a toddler. She and I found our way to Hillsboro for the first of many parades we would watch that included the Peabody High School band. We sat on a corner curb on Grand Avenue in Hillsboro and the people sitting next to us were Irvin and Pauline McPheeters. We struck up a conversation and discovered we were from the same community, introduced ourselves, and shared an enjoyable time as the parade passed by.

Fast-forward 40-plus years. One of the easiest things in the world is still to share an enjoyable time with Irvin and Pauline. They have stories to tell and memories to share and they are great people.

I have written in this column about listening to the “Geezer Group” share old tales and tall tales about Peabody. Irvin is often a member of that group. Hanging around the restaurant or a coffee shop catching the stories of years gone by was great sport, as was teasing the Geezers doing the telling. Once Irvin and two or three other old-timers were sitting on a bench downtown when I was frantic for a front-page photo. I snapped their picture and when the paper came out there they were in living color, under the heading “Liars club,” which I thought was just awfully clever! I am pretty sure Mr. McPheeters was not too happy with me after that issue appeared on the stands, but at some point he put it behind him and we all went on.

Irvin is a “hometown boy” with a great sense community spirit. He and Pauline have always been wonderful supporters of events put on by local church, school, scout, or civic organizations. They have donated their time and energy to most community causes and committees over the years. As of this past winter, Irvin still was clearing the snow from the First Baptist Church sidewalks and parking areas. I suspect there were individuals in Peabody who also benefitted from his generosity in times of inclement weather.

There are generations of former students who remember riding buses driven by Irvin and Pauline, children who counted on them to be in the audience of school productions (and they always were), who sold them cookies, band fruit, popcorn, candles, and other things the couple probably neither needed or wanted, but which they always bought to support the students selling them.

As he turns 90, most of the people in this community are younger than Irvin McPheeters and are in a position to have a memory or two about being beneficiaries of his friendship, generosity, and community spirit.

I think if you are one of those people, you should stop by his birthday celebration to tell him so.

— SUSAN MARSHALL

Last modified April 30, 2014

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