A Visit!



A Wonderful Visit with "Miss Long"

Beverly Smith Zacharias ... March 15, 2003


Three teachers made a difference in my life: Thelma Plant, Billy Bragg and Helen Long.  Thelma and Billy were controversial personalities and teachers ... not Miss Long ...  she was the lamb among the lions (if you will), and the students that claim her as their "favorite" are legion.  In 1955, the Thronateeska dedicated to her stated,  "... your unfaltering courage, which so vividly shines because of your devotion to God, your abounding joy, which is so refreshing because of your gift of humor, and your loving kindness, which enriches the lives of all whom you meet because of your sincere friendship to all of us."

Many have stayed in touch with Miss Long, and I hear constantly from students who made a point of seeing her when they visited Albany.  I have stayed in touch with her through  phone calls and Christmas cards with her handwritten notes in them; so it was she I wanted to see when I was in Albany last.  I was a guest in the home of Buster and Brenda Martin Wasden, and Brenda was eager to go with me to visit my favorite teacher, who for many years has had a different last name that I cannot seem to remember to use!!!

(click pictures to enlarge)

helen.jpg (18420 bytes) Helen Long Cordell is now living in Morningside of Albany and quite enjoying her new life of "leisure"!!  Brenda and I found her in her "exercise" class, which had just ended.  She was delighted to see us and invited us into her new home!  She proudly showed us her home and then we sat down to visit.  It was charming and felt warm ... just like her!  On the sofa there is a small pillow that states "I Believe In Angels".  

brenda&helen.jpg (24173 bytes) I soon found Brenda to be quite an interviewer - it is an unusual talent to be able to bring out wonderful stories from people - and Brenda was incredible with Miss Long Cordell!  She asked her how the relationship between her and Mr. Joe Cordell started.  I wish I had taken my video camera with me - there is no way I can share the exuberant joy she shared with us.  If only  you could have heard the whole story - but let me just tell you this precious part ... in answer to Brenda's question, Miss Long said that one evening the phone rang and the caller identified himself as Joe Cordell.  And she responded, "Yes, Mr. Cordell" ... after all he was her boss!  After asking how she could help him, he responded that he wondered if she might accompany him to dinner.  She responded ... "Mr. Cordell, you have been very forthright with me, and so I shall be with you!!!   Yes, I will!!! (Note: these are very close to her exact words - in fairness I cannot claim otherwise!!!).  And so they went to dinner, and as she says ... the rest was history!  They were married a few months later, and had over 20 extremely happy years together.

For those who did not know, Miss (Mrs.) Long  was previously married to Wayne Long for a brief time before he left for the war.  They had been married only 3 months when he was killed in action.  She speaks lovingly of that marriage.

helen&bev.jpg (20652 bytes) The morning  passed too quickly.  I took some pictures and we hugged and said our goodbyes.  I left that morning walking on air!  I had spent magical moments with someone who had always been special to me - and now she was even more so!!!   Soon to be 91 ... Miss Long Cordell is still a woman of beauty inside and out; she walks and carries herself tall as an oak, though she is short in physical statue; her spirit glows from the inside out, and you feel loved and inspired sitting in her presence.  So she believes in angels?  So do I ... Helen Long Cordell is an angel here on earth!  And she has touched my very soul!  

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