As a crowd of roughly 130 Wells Elementary Grade School children finished singing “Happy Birthday to You” in front of his house, Henry Davis took in the scene from his front porch.
Then, he sang back, a sly grin across his face.
Happy Birthday to you
You live in a zoo
You look like a monkey
And you smell like one, too
The Grayville man, who had just turned 100 years old, was no stranger to the children, living directly across from the grade school.
“What happens is, kids go by and I just holler at ‘em, give ‘em candy and stuff,” said Davis.
Still, seeing a parade of children, teachers and administrators in tow, march across North Street and to his porch was a sight that caught him off guard.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Davis. “All those kids coming over here.”
And with Davis living at is current location for decades, never covers a significant span of time.
“I moved into this house right here in 1948,” he noted.
But his connection to the school goes beyond mere proximity.
“I got the school for ‘em up there,” Davis stated.
The owners of the land prior to the Grayville School District were farmers, according to Davis. Once the patriarch of the family passed away, his widow approached Davis about purchasing the property for $20,000.
“I said, ‘Lady, I ain’t go $20,000,” he said. “But hang on to it.”
Davis then reached out to Max Malone, President of the Grayville School Board at the time.
“Max was head of the school board,” said Davis. “He said, ‘Don’t let that get away.’
“I said, ‘Come on.’”
For the rest of the story, check out this week's Navigator.