September 29, 2013

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 17

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:  
School Days...
I started to school in the first grade in 1933.  My teachers through elementary and high school were the following:
1st grade - Mrs. Jessie McClure
2nd grade - Mrs. Anita Bondurant Oliphant
3rd grade - Mrs. Lorelle Seal who later married Leon Hebert
4th grade - Mrs. Taylor
5th grade - Mrs. Mamie "Kidd" Bryan Trichel
6th grade - Mrs. Deleta Furr Peniston
Aubrey Brooks
Aubrey Brooks was the elementary school principal.  He came to Sicily Island in about 1931 or 1932.
In high school, some of the teachers were Eunice Garrison [married John Enright], Rosemary Wilkinson Crawford, Birdie Talbert Krause, Thelma Brooks, Willy Woodward and Lily Mae Seal.  Our Ag teachers were John Randall, a 3rd or 4th cousin to the John Randall who was the barber and later a school janitor, and George Durham.  Another janitor was Will Cupit from Foules.  Cameron Coney was the high school principal.
Mrs. Brooks taught Home Economics.  Miss Willy Woodward taught Chemistry and English.  Miss Lily Mae Seal taught English.  Mr. Coney taught general science.
Some of the people who taught school before I started were Florence Duncle Meyers, Daisy Spencer, Mrs. Kempe, Margaret DeWitt and Georgia Westbrook Peniston.
School started at about 8:30 and we'd go until about 10:00 and have a 15 minute recess.  We'd go back in the classroom until 12:00 then we'd have an hour break for lunch.  They didn't serve school lunch until several years after I graduated.  Kids that lived out of town had to bring their lunches.  Those of us who lived in town could walk home to eat lunch.
Classes would start back at 1:00 and we'd have another 10-15 minute break at 2:00 or 2:15.  Fourth graders and up would go back to their classrooms until 4:00 in the evening.  
Kids in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades got out of classes at 2:00 and were allowed to play on the school grounds until 4:00.  That's where I got to know people and made friends.  We had some great times.  Some of my classmates in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades were Jarvis Cloy, T. J. Johnson, Ray Flowers, Benny Causey, Cary Francis and Lonnie Stringer.  
I can still see all those faces.  Some have gone on before us.  Those still living don't live around here.  One girl I started first grade with, Mary Nell Benge, still lives here.  She married Gordon Higgins.  That's the only classmate I have left here on the Island.
Cameron Coney
There was lots of discipline and order when I was in school.  We used to have to line up and march to our classrooms.  If you got out of line, you were in trouble.  The boys got whippings.  The girls got paddlings in grammar school but they didn't get whippings in high school; they got yelled at.  
Yes, we had whippings back in those days.  There was no law that said there had to be witnesses to the whippings.  Mr. Coney and Mr. Brooks would pick you up and tear your back end up!  Both of them could really do it, too!  Mr. Coney whipped the grown boys in high school.  
In fact, he whipped me and several more boys while we were practicing marching in for graduation.  I forget what we did.  We got demerits for something we didn't do.  If you got so many demerits, you got a whipping.  We had finished all our classes but he gave us a whipping anyway.  He didn't play with us either.  He gave us a real whipping with a big ole barber's leather strap they used to sharpen straight razors.  It sounded like a gun going off when he'd hit you.  It felt worse than that!  We could use some of that discipline and order back in our schools today.
My graduating class, the class of 1944, was the only class that never had a graduation ceremony.  We practiced lining up and marching for a few of days.
One day Mr. Coney came in while we were practicing and asked us to all take a seat.  He told us there was a child with a case of spinal meningitis down in Foules.  He said school was being closed immediately by the Health Department.  
Two or three of the girls asked if we couldn't go ahead with the graduation ceremony and have only our families there.  Graduation was only a few days away.  Mr. Coney said, "No public gatherings."  So we left school about fifteen minutes after he gave us that message.
They mailed us our diplomas the next week.  The day we got that news and left school was the last time I saw several of the girls I had gone to school with.  I saw them sitting there in that gym and fifteen minutes later they were gone and I was gone.  We never met again.  That was 47 years ago.

Note:  Parts 1-16 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

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