Monday, November 9, 2015
Beautiful Babies of Bygone Years
It was while I was holding my own beautiful baby that someone said, "Don't blink; she'll be grown before you know it." And that's the way it's been.
I suppose the same might have been said to Sarah Broyles McClellan, just after the arrival of her third and last child, William Helms McClellan, a little over one hundred years ago. Still, she made the decision that led to preserving his small spot in local history, ever since his photo debut in the Fort Meade, Florida, Annual Baby Contest.
Who knows how Bill—or Mac, as he came to be called in adulthood—might have felt about the honor. After all, he did win the contest in 1916. But those are the kinds of accolades one can't outgrow fast enough.
After growing up in Fort Meade—well, at least until his father, Rupert Charles McClellan, decided to move his dental practice to the much larger city of Tampa—Bill eventually served in World War II in the United States Army Air Force, and was also an Air Force veteran of the Korean conflict, attaining the rank of senior master sergeant.
In civilian life, he was employed by the Pasco County, Florida, Sheriff's Department, and also kept up his military association through membership in the Air Force Sergeants' Association.
Still, one has to wonder how a man like that might have felt about starting life off as the Beautiful Baby Photo Contest winner for his hometown. Was that the deep, dark secret he was compelled to hide from his closest childhood friends? Would the guys have laughed him to scorn?
Perhaps it was a mom thing. And despite the perennial "Aw, mom" complains uttered over the centuries by growing boys, for some reason Bill McClellan never gave up the photo which eventually came to be in his possession at the passing of his parents.
How do I know? The photo was sent to me by the Fort Meade Historical Society, which in turn received it from Bill's daughter.
And where do you suppose she had gotten it?
From the blushing son of a proud mama who just knew he was a beautiful baby.