|Joel Hancock Law Firm|
|William Jennings Bryan|
"The Great Communicator"
|Charlie Hancock, my grandfather|
"Deny a child and education," he often repeated, "and you might as well cut off his arms and legs!" And to add credence to his assertion he would add, "That's what William Jennings Bryan said when he came to Beaufort in 1914."
Though my father's own education would conclude in the seventh grade of Harkers Island School less than a decade later, he was a firm believer in the value of an education, and he did his best to make sure that his children had opportunities that he had not. He served on the local school board for a time and took a then unpopular stand in advocating consolidating the Island's high school with Smyrna to increase opportunities for local children.
And, largely because of his esteem for Bryan, he held a deep admiration for the legal profession. He viewed both judges and attorneys as the consummate professionals, and the title "lawyer" was one he venerated and respected. I think that when he himself served as a local tax-lister and registrar he may have imagined in at least a small way that he was fulfilling a role as part of the legal profession.
|My father holding and reading to my son, Joel Jr.,|
in his favorite easy chair
For a few minutes, I was part of something that was as impossible to deny as it is difficult to explain. There I was sitting in an auditorium six hundred miles from the only home I have ever known, but I was smack dab in the middle of a gathering that somehow included not just my son (Joel) and grandson (Calvin), but also my father (Charlie William) and my grandfather (Charlie). And just as amazingly, there was even a special seat for the "the Great Commoner" himself, William Jennings Bryan, as he too shared in the pride of an event that he helped to inspire almost a century earlier.