May 2007

Most area folks are probably unaware that a record was made in New York City on Oct. 21, 1926 that told of an alleged fox chase on beautiful Buffalo Mountain. Jointly owned Vocalion and Brunswick record company released the classic song, “Governor Alf Taylor’s Fox Chase,” by the Hill Billies (a.k.a. Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters).

The humorous tale on a 78-rpm breakable disc begins with these words: “Gov. Alf Taylor of Tennessee and his sons, Alf, Nat, Dave and Blaine, own a kennel of foxhounds, from 50 to 100 famous dogs.”

On the recording, Alf, his boys and their favorite Walker hound dog, Old Limber, join Gray Station resident, Ben Jenkins, and his canine buddy, Old Zeke, for a hunting expedition on Buffalo Mountain.

Alf first turns Old Limber, “the best foxhound that ever went in the woods,” loose to see what he can do. Soon thereafter, Ben releases Old Zeke.

The song flip-flops between Al’s narrative of the hunting event and my great uncle, Charlie Bowman, imitating the dogs on his fiddle cleverly giving each dog a different sounding “bark.” Whenever the animals go out of hearing range, Al asks his fiddler to “play a little tune.”

The record concludes with Old Limber snagging a red fox and Old Zeke grabbing a rabbit. Such comedic routines were very popular in the 1920s.

Mack Houston of Piney Flats recalls when his father, John, took his nine-year-old son on hunting trips to Buffalo Mountain. The year was 1934, just five years after the road from Johnson City to Erwin was paved.

According to Mack, these events usually centered on a nearby popular attraction along the Johnson City side of the mountain, a little over halfway below the top and west of White Rock:  

“There was a tap on the main water supply line from Limestone Cove to Johnson City on property owned by the Gifford family. This arrangement provided them with a free water source. These nice folks allowed people to freely access their waterspout.”

John Houston remembered occasionally talking with Bob and Alf Taylor and members of their family as they embarked on hunting expeditions. Their outings usually transcended two or three nights.

The elder Houston said that the Taylor family employed a man by the name of Andy Trent as caretaker of the dogs. If one got lost during the hunt and couldn’t be located, the family offered a reward for its return.

“The waterspout area became a popular hangout for people of all ages.” said Mack. “They brought guitars, fiddles and mandolins with them to sing and play music.

 “Some folks rode horses there and set up camp, staying for several days. Hunters brought their dogs with them and tied them nearby.

“When the dogs were eventually turned loose (like in the song), they made the awfulest noise you ever heard. Those critters ran wildly all over the mountain, sometimes lasting into the wee hours of the morning. This was music to our ears.”

Mack recalled that people filled glass jugs with water before returning home and used it for washing, bathing, drinking and occasionally pouring into a cistern.

Mack concluded: “Another favorite sport on Buffalo Mountain was hunting chestnuts, usually done on Sunday afternoons. This occurred before the terrible blight destroyed all the chestnut trees.”

If anyone has memories or photographs of the Buffalo Mountain waterspout area, I would love to hear from you. 

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A perennial struggle with parents is getting their young child into a barber chair for a haircut. In the 1940s, one unique barbershop in Johnson City came up with an imaginative way of dealing with this difficulty. 

My parents regularly took me to the OK Barbershop at 117 W. Market Street, located across from Powell’s Department Store. The barber was Burton Stansberry. The hairdresser trimmed my locks while I straddled a carnival horse. The shop was possibly named after the OK Corral. Prior to 1939, it was located at 111 Buffalo.

Oddly enough, the barbershop also contained a jewelry store, C.E. Hale Jewelers, owned and operated by Clarence and Ruth Hale. The barber chairs were on the right as you entered and the elongated jewelry counter was to the left. The hobbyhorse stood motionless next to the window.

I vaguely recollect Mr. Stansberry as being a soft-spoken man with a knack for turning a hair-raising experience into a pleasurable one. I looked forward to my next trip in two weeks. This haircutter offered his young guests the option of sitting in a regular chair with a seat across the arms or climbing onto the horse. I always chose the latter. Before giving me a trim, the gentle barber began by asking me if I would like to feed his hungry horse. He preceded to hand me a tissue with orders to place it in the horse’s mouth. The paper fit snugly between the animal’s lips without falling out. It stayed there until it was time for the next youngster to get a haircut and feed the “hungry” horse.

During the next ten minutes of grooming, this witty barber chatted with me about subjects ranging from his horse to what I did for recreation. I was so mesmerized I hardly realized I was in a barbershop. After I became too old to sit on a carnival horse, I switched to another barbershop. However, on visits downtown, I regularly stopped by the OK Barbershop to gaze through the window at my old buddy. The horse was later retired but remained in the window for an extended period of time.

I started going to Bill’s (Garland) Barber Shop at 268 W. Market, former site of the Red Store. Bill frequently talked about the Little League team at Kiwanis Park that he coached. I enjoyed his lively conversations. Over the years, I frequented several area barbershops, one being (Clinton) Durham’s Barbershop at 700 Lamont Street, opposite the VA Center’s main entrance. He presented me with a moneymaking opportunity by encouraging me to charge a dime for impatient customers to go ahead of me. That helped pay for my 50-cent haircut.

Primus Dees, who worked at the Majestic Barbershop at 241 E. Main, cut my hair for a couple of years. Primus sold vacuum cleaners on the side, which he kept in a rear closet at the shop. I occasionally went with my father to the Palace Barbershop at 302 S. Roan (around the corner from Liggett’s Drug Store). Boyd Purdy was Dad’s favorite barber.

Other area tonsorial parlors from the mid 1950s included the Arcade (Arcade Building), Capital (144 W. Main), City (129 W. Main), Congress (119 E. Fountain Square), Empire (1017 E. Fairview), Hill’s (427A W. Walnut), Jack’s (1102 Division), John Sevier (204 S. Roan), J.S. Martin (121 Buffalo), Donald Messimer (923 W. Walnut), People’s (209 E. Maple), Sanitary (111A Spring), Smitty’s (115.5 McClure) and Windsor (104 Windsor Way).

If you recall a favorite clip joint or had your hair cut on the OK Barbershop horse, I would like to hear from you. I hope someone will recall the horse’s name, if he had one. 

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Richard Jackson, a 1958 Science Hill High School graduate, permitted me to examine a 1921 Wataugan that he purchased from an antique store. It was a jewel.

The title page acknowledged this annual’s significance: “The Wataugan – Volume 1 – 1921 – Published by the senior class of Johnson City High School.” The book contained 61 pages including 32 pages of ads. One page showed two remarkable photographs: “Science Hill as it WAS” and “Science Hill as it is NOW.” Judging from the slant of “the hill,” the old school appeared to face south toward E. Market.

The new school faced N. Roan and seems to have been snapped before the students began classes there. Material, dirt piles and light snow appear all over the grounds. The 23 faculty members included Mr. D.R. Haworth, superintendent and Miss Lucy Hatcher, principal. Mrs. Will Lusk served as librarian and Miss Maude Hodge was school nurse.

Perhaps the most significant section of the periodical was the “Alumni Association Roll,” listing the names of school graduates between 1894 and 1921. (See complete list of names below.) Oddly enough, the class of 1910 is not shown. Does anyone know why? The class of 1894 had only seven students; the one for 1920 displayed 48.

Several prominent names appeared in the register, including possibly the most recognized alumni, LeRoy Reeves (1894), designer of the Tennessee State flag in 1905. Student Edwin Crouch masterfully penned an essay titled “Happy Valley – The Watauga,” that commences with these carefully chosen picturesque words: “The valley of the beautiful Watuaga, reposing like a vale of cashmere in the midst of green hills and towering mountains half veiled in the purple haze that is born of ‘magnificent distances,’ is one of those charming spots on earth.”

Three students shown in the photos became prominent doctors in Johnson City: Charles Gresham, William G. Preas and Carroll H. Long. The school’s calendar revealed two significant events for Feb. 9, 1921. The Wataugan became the official name for the annual and maroon and gold were adopted as the school colors.

Male students had a choice of four literary societies: Adelphian, Jacksonian, Jeffersonian and Wilsonian. The ladies boasted of seven: Athenian, Lanier, Pocahontas, Utopian, Victorian, Frances E. Willard and Ossolian. As always, the ads were interesting to read, such as this sampling of the 90 displayed in the back pages of the annual:

“The Hanks-Morris Motor Company – Distributors of Cadillac, Oakland and Overland.”

“Fountain Square Furniture Company – Johnson City’s Cheapest Store, At the Sign of the Rocking Chair.”

“East Tennessee Normal School – A school for the education and training of teachers, Expenses very low – Tuition free; Sidney G. Gilbreath, President.”

“The Liberty Theatre – Quality Plays.”

“Masengills – Have you seen the new models of Betty Wales Dresses, which we are showing? They are irresistible.”

“H.M. Smith Co. – You can get there walking, but you will get there quicker and with more ease if you ride a National Bicycle.”

Blanche Crigger laments her graduation from high school with this brief poem: “Turn backward, turn backward. O, Time, in thy flight. To my dear old school days. Just for one night.”

In upcoming columns I will feature sports and additional material from Richard Jackson’s remarkable find.


Science Hill High School Alumni


Class of 1894

Carrie Ball, W.R. King, Gertrude Mitchell, W.H. Gildersleeve, Sue Wood, (Miss) Willie Reeves, LeRoy Reeves. 

Class of 1895

Laura Faucette, Leucretia Eubanks, Raymond P. Reeves. 

Class of 1896

Mary Faucette, Neva Painter, Elizabeth Carr, Frank Mitchell, Earl Jackson, Will Pouder, Mamie Grant and Charlie Biddle. 

Class of 1897

Haskiel H. Dyer, Fred W. Hoss, Josie Lusk, Luster Painter, Sanna Biddle, Frank Gildersleeve, Walter H. Hunter, Will N. Hoss, Ada Wood. 

Class of 1898

Ailene Galloway, Beatrice Reeves, Mamie King, Stanley Reeves. 

Class of 1899

Mattie Bullock, Alice Campbell, Paul B. Carr, Ada Darden, Arthur Erwin, Leola Martin, Jennie Lusk, Will B. Miller, Eva Lusk, Thomas Kirkpatrick, Walter J. Miller, Mamie Hickey, Lillie Painter, Lucy Pouder, Bessie Weaver. 

Class of 1900

Almanda Boucher, Bessie Ball, Maxie Cox, Ethel Cloyd, Lillian D’Armond, Winifred Grant, Lula Hunter, Gordon Henderson, J. Foster Hoss, Clarence King, Mable Jackson, Joe T. Matson, Haynes Miller, Helen Mumpower, James A. Pouder, May Reeves, Carrie Snyder. 

Class of 1901

Will E. Hatcher, Bessie Painter, Lowry Cary, Vest Cross, Ethel Smith, Jessie Dulaney, Edward M.S. Crumley, Mabel Davidson, Maude Lust, Lucy Hatcher, Ethel Beals, Eva Lyle, Lizzie Mitchell, Roxie Slaughter, Mack Smith. 

Class of 1902

Charles Bullock, Jennie Austin, Lena Barton, James Beals, Olga Boyd, Walter Brown, Ella Burrow, Kate Carr, Regina Eiseman, Nellie Gammon, Grace Hart, Lora Hickey, Walter Hodges, Pearl Lyle, Maggie Martin, Ira Matson, Harry D. Miller, Nora Miller, Bob Mitchell, Virgil Slaughter, Nellie Wade, Graham Wilbourne, John Wood. 

Class of 1903

Bertha Burgess, Nell Carr, Ollie Crowell, Bessie Chinouth, Marion Friberg, Robert Gammon, Mabel Gildersleeve, Mary Gildersleeve, Jennie Hatcher, Floyd Henderson, Marion Johnson, Sadye Malone, Guy Sabin, Mrs. Horace Burleson (no maiden name shown). 

Class of 1904

Faye Whiteside, Thompsie Baxter, Anna Bell Beasley, Lena Hunt, Mary Willie Broyles, Mary Lyle, Hattie Hunter, Golden Wilbourne, Mary Evans, Nat G. Taylor, Elmer Beals, Ralph Cargille, Loyall Sitton, George Gildersleeve. 

Class of 1905

Ella Russell, Faw Broyles, Claire Fulton, Lonnie W. McCown, Maude Beasley, Cecil Donnelly, Una V. Templin, Fred King. 

Class of 1906

Roscoe A. Long, Leone Wagner, Mary Nell Beasley, Bonita Cloyd, Hazel Goode, Nora Hartsell, Ora Keys, Margaret Kegley, Georgia Seaver, Sarah Cordelia Tomlinson. 

Class of 1907

Edith Barton, Ethel Barton, Mary Agnes Berry, Ruby Baxter, Henry Carriger, Margaret Culler, Lucy Carr, Eva Fulton, Kathleen Gaunt, Mary Hardin, Rhea Hunter, Dimple Mettetal, Walter Martin, Fa N. Matson, Bonnie Murray, Pansy Painter, Glennie Pence, Lucy Sitton, Guy O. Seaver, Bess Slaughter. 

Class of 1908

Nellie Strain, Ralph Preas, Kate Gilmer, Alfred Gaunt, Ruth Lyle, Ward Friberg, Pearly Cloyd, Hubert Templin, Ina Bayless, Cleveland B. Coe, Julia Mettetal, Edith Tally, David T. Miller, Nettie Wallin, Chester Allen, James Buck, Issac Faw. 

Class of 1909

John I. Hale, Will Barton, Emily Miller, Florence Dickey, Worley Harr, Ruby Hodges, Sarah Broyles, Edith Campbell, Loren E. Long, Nell Crouch, Katherine Wilson, Gladys Berry, May Tomlinson, Lucile Martin, Inda Houtz, Herbert Athey. 

Class of 1910

(No names listed.) 

Class of 1911

Mary Alicd Barton, Fannie Rhea Dosser, Margaret Dosser, Ida Deam Campbell, Violet Fontaine, Kate Lundy, Elizabeth Jones, Mary Long, Fred Peoples, Mattie Strain, Lois Peoples, Florence Sitton, Margaret Woodruff . 

Class of 1912

Loftus Murrell, Edna Daniel, Hugh F.M. Hoss, Elizabeth Reeves, James Hardin, Susie Remine, Burr Harrison, Kathryn Peoples, Hallie Wolf. 

Class of 1913

Grace Boring, Eleanor Brading, Earl Cloyd, Mary Nell Dosser, Paul Emmert, Prentice Fulton, Marion Bowman, Mamie Bryant, Elberta Cox, Byron Eiseman, Eleanor Exum, Henley Gilbreath, Marie Hannah, Hattie Hunt, Edgar Lyle, Harry Mitchell, W.A. Richardson, Mabel Sutton, Maude Tomlinson, Isabel Wade, Lee Harr, Hubert King, Sara McCown, Samma Slaughter, Gunnar J. Teilman, Pell Vance, Maurice Wilson. 

Class of 1914

Frank Baxter, Whitney W. Buck, Reba Cannon, James Carter, Carrie Lee Cox, Hilda Evans, Nell Hyder, Charlie Lyle, Martha Mahoney, Margaret Moore, Bruce Preas, Kate Remine, Clyde Smith, Bessie Snyder, Nell Swingle, Melvia Taylor, Ellen Bowman, Ida Campbell, Leland Caldwell, Reba Collette, Andrea Daniels, Rivers Huddle, Edwin Long, Mary Gertrude Lyle, Roy Moore, Mary Dean Preas, Ruth Robbins, Arthur Moss, Miller Smith, Frank L. St. John, Mary Taylor. 

Class of 1915

Helen Vance, Frances Byrd, Mattie Bolton, Louise Thomas, Edward Brading, Alfred Carr, Thomas Matson, Louise St. John, Robert Miller, Guy L. Smith, Mary Fulton, Cameleon Allison, Morris Cooper, Edna Vance, Stella Barlow, Earl Fields, Guy Williams, Agnes Dyer, William Thompson, Crumley Ervin, Irene Browning, John Parsons, Draxie Liebe, Nell Brown, Loren Estes, Williams Matthews, Christine Burleson, Orville Martin, Luke Hunt, Margaret Lyle, Martha Good, Robert Dosser, Nellie Hunter, Max Lusk, Arthur Watson, Elizabeth Cass, Howard Clark, David Wilson, Katherine Sells, Sam Smith, Hazel Dinkle, Irma Cooper, Ruth Banner, Earl Hotalen, Bryan Woodruff, Evelyn Armbrust, Harris Wofford. 

Class of 1916

Ethel Riddell, Harry Faw, Edith Bolton, Earl Buchanan, Ernest Hodge, Leone Brown, Fitzhugh Wallace, Ruth McCorkle, Hannah Doak, Edith Clark, Clarence L. Miller, Reeves Hays, William Mitchell, Vance Jones, James Earnest. 

Class of 1917

Ruth Barlow, Melville Smith, Tera Harshbarger, Alta Boring, Floyd Lockett, Yetta Hecht, Margaret McCown, Elizabeth Moore, Oliver Robertson, Pauline Tindell, Ben Conner, Mildred Wade, Maurice Caldwell, Georgia Pierce, Virgie Chitwood, James B. Humphreys, Ivah Baker, Mildred Nicholson, Paul Keys, Margaret White, H.C. Hart, Barbara Haire, Edith Baxter, Theodore Daniels, Ruth Allison, Anne Huddle, Nancy Weaver, Lorna Whiteside, Louise Cox, James Remine, Bess Remine, Blanch Wood, Buford Conner, Georgia Taylor, Carl Young, Helen Swan. 

Class of 1918

Hattie Remine, K. Harshbarger, Hattie Tilson, Mary Shaffer, Dean Tainter, Vivian Nelson, Elsie Artz, Gertrude McCorkle, Margie Hunt, Estelle Snyder, Clyde McCall, Josephine Taylor, Mary Kyle, Bruce Lacy, Charlotte Matthews, Gertrude Hunter, Glen Hunter, Beulah Snyder, Mary Parrott, Spencer Leonard, Emma Louise Painter, Sophia Blair, Thelma Houston, Carmel King, Edith Lyle, Byron Garvin, Hattie Cox, Ada Evans, Paul Preas, Blanch Range, Helen McLeod, Ira Williams, Ernest Kite. 

Class of 1919

Selma Bowman, Martha Carr, Carl Fields, Lucille Hartsook, Francis Miller, Sebra Cooper, Lester Keller, Anna Kate Culton, Cora Mae Crockett, Jaffa Gump, Don Gray, Nell Hanna, Margaret Hutchins, Howard Imboden, Lamonte Laher, Edith Mausbach, Aucil Barron, Evangeline Hartsook, Louise Nelson, Elizabeth Fisher, Ida Adams, Anna Baum, Rosa Baum, Kate Britton, Selma Browning, Paul Cox, Mary Emmert, Mary Ewalt Grace Estes, Edith Gilmer, Elbert Hardin, Leila Hart, Ogarita Keebler, Lorenia Moore, Helen Seaver, Kathryn Sells, Georgia Williams, Mary Lockett, Rosalie Buck, Elizabeth Martin, Ida Cox. 

Class of 1920

Ruby Anderson, Fred Artz, Martha Bowman, Edith Campbell, Lest Leonard, Valerie Shipley, Edith Brown. Roy Lukk, Jessie Daniels, Juliet Hunter, Delno Diddle, Vera Chitwood, Sadie Freeman, William Whistman, Arthur Mae Smalling, Edna Dickey, Walden Shell, Helen Williams, Winnie Woodruff, Harry Fisher, Helen Lusk, Kathleen Martin, William Bailey, Leone Lacey, Rubie Haire, Eugene McSpadden, Claire Anderson, Elizabeth Parsons, William Erwin, Della Spencer, Ellen Moss, Andrew Martin, Zelma Keebler, Margaret Hayes, Theodore McCown, Mabel Dickson, Georgia Matthews, Robert Jobe, Cora Smith, Helen Faulk, William Hart, Ella Ross, Lena Gregory, Bert Wetherby, Mary Louise Miller, Mable Robertson, Arch Spencer, Ina Williams. 

Class of 1921

Edwin Crouch, (Miss) Gordon Grubbs, Walter Smith, Martha Goode, William Roper, Belle Lyle, Albert Tipton, Jesse Masengill, Charlie Crouch, Sara Crigger, Victor Crouch, Ruby Sharp, Eugene Hunter, Ethel Chaffin, Ernest Thomas, Selma Luntsford, William Keen, Florence Stout, William Starritt, Kathryne Rangely, Leslie Hart, Lelia Hughes, Frank Clark, Mary McLeod, Robert London, Robert Brown, Mattie Weems, Charles Gresham, Ina Shafer, Ethel DeArmond, Helen Stapleton, Jack Lust, Loretta Pearce, James Bayless, Mina Medford, Stanley Brading, Bennie Artz, Elsie Hyder, Gladys Cox.  

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John Anderson, a former student at Training School (now called University High), mailed me a copy of The Trumpet, a 1959 underground publication that he and other students produced. Although the short-lived 4-page periodical received a strong endorsement from “The Student Union,” the newspaper caused John and two other students to be expelled from school:

John indicated that they graduated in 1960, which was before the student protest era, but we indeed did lead a protest over the name, Training School. As noted by The Trumpet: “Why are all schools in this area mentioned in ‘High School, USA’ and Training School isn’t? Science Hill and Elizabethton are mentioned in the first verse! If they put our name in the song, people would think that they were singing about a reform school. Support the movement to change the name of Training School.”

The reference to “High School, USA” was a popular song in 1959 with separate versions featuring high schools all over the country. It peaked at #28 on the Billboard chart. The periodical’s style of nearly a half-century ago was low tech with the main front-page title stenciled, subtitles hand printed and the text banged out on a manual typewriter.

The newspaper paid homage to Mr. George Finchum, a tall flattop haircut teacher who was described as being an excellent educator and who understood the problems of teenagers. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to school “inmates.”

The publication then became divisive over news that school officials had cancelled the senior class’s trip to Washington: “Was the collecting of dues for the Washington trip and a few smaller projects fair if the Washington trip was to be taken away? We do not believe so!” The newspaper language became even stronger: “Did the “high and mighty” faculty (and I use that term loosely) have the total authority to forbid this trip? We do not believe so!” Students strongly disagreed with the stated reason for the trip’s cancellation being that a week spent in class would have more educational value.

On a more positive note, Training School trounced Washington College 76 to 43 in its first encounter of the season. The “B” Team won 41 to 21. The Trumpet put in a plug for attendance at area basketball games: “Training School has its first home game tonight, Nov. 13 against Sulphur Springs. Nov. 17, 20 and 24 finds the Jr. Bucs going to Erwin, Loudon and Holston, respectively. The defending District II champs return home again on the 27thplaying Hancock. Most all other schools have already started their season with the exception of Science Hill who is still getting over its football loss to Kingsport.”

The Trumpet repeated a “humorous, although not so factual story” from an earlier school newspaper, “Frosted Freshman” written by Mary Crumley. The training facility was allegedly taken over by students following a protest for their being given so many pop quizzes. Student Lee Smith summarily replaced Mr. John Arrants.

“After we were expelled,” said John, “our dads appealed to President Dossett of ETSC to let us back in school. Our punishment was that we had to go before the entire Training School student body and apologize.” The protesters got their wish in 1963 when ETSC acquired university status and changed the name of the high school to University High School. The ill-fated Trumpet had prevailed. 

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