July 2015

The subject of the Red Shield Boy's Club has become a favorite subject with my readers with two of them adding their comments about the organization: Norm Andrews and Dick Church.

Norm Andrews

“I was visiting some relatives in Johnson City and saw your article about the Red Shield Boys' Club. I enjoyed reading it, which brought back a flood of memories. I did note one error. In the third paragraph, you stated that the club was initially located at 228 W. Market St. Actually the club was located one block further east on W. Market, but I'm not exactly sure of the address. It was upstairs over a grocery store or maybe a furniture store somewhere between 130 and 140 W. Market St.

“After reading your article I stopped and looked at those buildings and saw only one entrance to an upstairs from street level. That address was 132.5 West Market St so I'm betting that was the location of the original Club. (A city directory confirms Norm's conclusion.)

“I attended the Club at that location and remember it well because I broke my arm there. It moved to 228 W. Market about 1952 which was a huge improvement but the low ceiling made playing basketball a challenge. I was quite active at the Club.

“I participated in most of the activities, primarily basketball, until I was a junior in high school. Through the 1950s, the Club was unofficially segregated. Later in the 50s, black kids would come in and play basketball and our Boys Club basketball team scrimmaged against the Langston High School team.

“I remember some of the young men pictured in your article, and I also remember some of the ones on the Langston team. I visited the new Boys and Girls Club facilities on W. Market St., just past State of Franklin, hoping to see a lot of pictures of the old facilities and, perhaps, some historical memorabilia. Although it was not there, I was impressed with the opportunities boys and girls have there today. It was modern and well-furnished, as compared to the facilities of the 1940s-50s, but I doubt the boys and girls who attend this modern facility appreciate the Club any more than we did back in my day. 

Dick Church

“My Grandpa used to run a small “minute picture” photo studio that started out in the little alley way that ran between Main and Market right near the Majestic. Next door was a shoe shop. You may remember the place.

“Soon, he moved the business to an upper floor space that was near the Boys Club. I have a lot of the pictures he made of me and my family back in those old days. I wore bib overalls and went barefooted most of the time. During the WWII days, the girls would come into the studio and pose for pictures to send to their boyfriends fighting in the war.

“The pictures my grandpa made were much like a Polaroid in that he would take the shots and immediately run the positive film through the chemicals in the dark room, dry them and deliver to the customer in just a few minutes. It was nothing fancy, but he got the job done in an era when not everyone had a camera.

“I remember once the Club had a contest for the most freckled faced boy. I think I was high on the winners list.  It was such a great laid back place to hang out.

“Back in those days I had free run of the town. Parents didn't have to worry about something happening to a kid in those days. We went to movies, visited Pat's Trading Post, went to London Hardware or to Ben's Sport Shop. Whatever we needed could be found downtown.

“I remember when Eddie Cowell was on the sidewalk near the Majestic with a radio microphone in his hand, talking to people on the street. He was sponsored by a bread company. And how about the Majestic, which had the “Young Americans Club” for kids every Saturday. They had a live talent show that featured kids standing on the stage. I once played my harmonica over the radio.”

Keep those Red Shield Boys' Club memories flowing.

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Today's column is directed to my lady readers, but here's hoping the gentlemen will get a chuckle out of it as well.

An 1886 newspaper offered fashion advise to the fair damsels of that era. The title of it was “Do Not Wear,” and provided 19 suggestions for “the better half” to improve their appearances. Not being familiar with some of the items mentioned, I added a few words of explanations in parenthesis where I deemed appropriate. These items were in the newspaper 129 years ago: 

“1. Do not wear a sailor hat unless you are sure it is becoming; if not suited to your style, it will give you a bold look.

“2. Do not wear your hair in a careless way during the warm weather, as it will make you look very untidy. 

“3. Do not wear soiled gloves, even though the salesmen in the glove shops say they are allowable. 

“4. Do not wear stockings of a particularly remarkable  color or design because they are more desirable for the corps de ballet (a group of lowest rank dancers who are not soloists but instead work as a unit as a permanent part of the ballet company for the principal solo dancers).  

“5. Do not wear so much bustle (a frame or pad to support and expand the fullness of the back of a woman's skirt) that your figure will suggest an hour glass.

“6. Do not wear either too tight or too loose shoes. The first will ruin your temper while the other will affect the shape of your feet.

“7. Do not wear a very heavy perfume because it is vulgarizing. 

Jennie June Sewing Machine / Electric Light Soap

“8. Do not wear rose color on the street unless it be on your bonnet.  

“9. Do not wear many-colored flowers on your bonnet for somebody will surely compare you to a cockatoo.

“10. Do not wear ruching (pronounced “roo-shing,” a French sewing term, meaning to gather in a labor-intensive and time-consuming repeating pattern to form ruffles, scallops, or petals). 

“11. Do not wear upon the street lingerie suited only to the house.

“12. Do not wear a bustle over your white skirt, as it will cause the latter to show below the summer skirt.

“13. Do not wear a corset, since it not only causes discomfort but detracts from the artistic outline of the figure.

“14. Do not wear a very loose collar because it is an evidence of lack of taste.

“15. Do not wear the deep yellow shade unless you are very sure of its becomingness. When it is not “your color,” it is most undesirable in effect.

“16. Do not wear a silk dress when a cotton one would be better. Simplicity is seldom inappropriate during the summer, whereas magnificence usually is.

“17. Do not wear a chemisette (an article of women's clothing worn to fill in the front and neckline of any garment) and knotted scarf unless your bodice is arranged for it. When this is lacking, the desired smart look is also not there. 

“18. Do not wear a small veil. Instead, have one that  drapes the entire chapeau (a French term signifying a hat or other covering for the head) and keeps in place its garniture (decoration or embellishment) and your short bangs.

“19. Do not wear an expression of utter indifference to the world – the sunshine, the flowers, the colors, the people, the gowns and all the etcetera that help make up life. Even if you are absolutely outside of it all by some overwhelming consideration of self, at least do not look so, for it is as unbecoming as it is unwomanly and as well calculated to bring wrinkles on your face and lines your eyes as any of the forms of extreme self-consideration.”    

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Recently, my wife and I attended my 55th Science Hill High School reunion, which included the combined classes of 1959-60-61. We were the “babies” of the attendees.  While many classmates go to these events faithfully every five years, others never attend or make an occasional appearance. Sadly, many have left us; some cannot be present for a multiplicity of reasons, which include health issues. At the urging of Bernie Gray, I want to pay homage in today's column to my three favorite classes by providing a brief early history of our school. I will feature more later.

Science Hill High School as It Appeared When It First Opened in 1868

According to an old 1941-42 scrapbook, Johnson City became the proud possessor of the school largely because of a small group of far-sighted individuals who perceived the need for such an institution of learning shortly after the Civil War ended.

In 1941, Thad Lacy, an officer of the school's Alumni Association, announced that plans were being completed for the annual Science Hill Reunion to be held Friday at the long deceased high school on N. Roan Street.

Mr. Lacy quoted from the original minute book of the first Science Hill Literary Society that resided in the ownership of Mrs. Peter J. Naher of E. Holston Avenue. It showed the interest expressed by society members to obtain an adequate high school or “seminary,” as it was called, for the then-small town of Johnson's Depot. Extracts from the original Minute Book are as follows:

“February 1, 1867. First minutes of Science Hill Literary Society: president, J.H. Wagner; vice-president, M.C. Wagner; secretary, M.F. Young; and treasurer, A.H. Yeager.

“July 19, 1867. Whereas the members of said society were interested to such an extent of education and virtue in our community that they conceived the idea and are attempting to build an institution of learning to be known by the name of Science Hill Seminary in honor of Science Hill Literary Society and for the promotion of the cause of education and virtue and whereas the State of Tennessee granted a charter for the protection of the proposed institution, recognizing H.H. Carr, J.M. Johnson, A.H. Yeager, J.Q. Williams and B.W. Akard. Members of Science Hill Literary Society, as trustees of said institution, have the right to instruct said trustees in regard to wishes of the society, Science Hill Literary Society is head of the author and head of the proposed institution.

“B.W. Akard, 88, of Weatherford, Texas, one of the charter members of the original society, said: “We knew it took gall, grace and greenback, and while we were supplied with the first, we had little grace and no greenbacks at all. But we started a subscription. Not one of us had a respectable suit of clothes, except John Johnson, who was always a tidy looking sort of chap. I subscribed $40; I had $2. I chopped and hauled wood for the railroad through July and August.”

Unidentified Newspaper Clipping about the Opening of Science Hill in 1868

The Science Hill Male and Female Institute, forerunner of the present day high school, which resulted from these pioneers' plans, was dedicated October 27, 1867 and was opened August 24, 1868. N.E. Hodges, principal of Science Hill commented: “We  at the high school are looking forward to homecoming day. We shall have guides to show the visitors through the building and hope many will 'visit on the hill' Friday.”

Tea was served to visitors on Homecoming Day at Science Hill from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lunch was served in the cafeteria from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., followed by a football game that was played between Science Hill and an unspecified Jacksonville, Florida team. A dance was held on Friday evening in the gymnasium for members of the Alumni Association, their dates, Science Hill seniors and the two teams.

The alumni group was formed early in 1940, largely through the efforts of Miss Regina Eiseman, who is largely remembered for her long tenure as principal of Junior High School that once stood at N. Roan and W. Fairview. 

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Nashville was decorated and adorned on every street to welcome President William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States and his party on their visit to the first Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Their special train arrived at 8 a.m. and Mr. McKinley and his fellow travelers were escorted to the Maxwell House by a squad of mounted ex-Confederate soldiers wearing the uniform of the “lost cause.”

President William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States

Great crowds thronged the streets and cheered them as they passed. After the party finished breakfast, Governor Bob Taylor of Tennessee and Governor Bucknell of Ohio, accompanied by their staffs, called upon the President and Mrs. McKinley. Afterward, the president of the Woman's Board of the Exposition visited with the President and first lady.

At 11 o'clock, Mr. President arrived at the Exposition grounds still escorted by the ex-Confederates and a troop of regular cavalry. The procession was greeted with cheers from the thousands of thrilled people who lined the streets.

Governor Taylor's address of welcome opened the exercises at the Exposition building. He was followed by the mayor of Nashville and the Governor of Ohio. After Gov. Bushnell concluded his oration, the President was introduced.

At the beginning of his address, he was widely applauded and enthusiastic cheers frequently interrupted him. After referring to the State's first Centennial, he said, among other things:

“Tennessee has sometimes been called the 'mother of Southwestern statesmen.' It furnished us the immortal Andrew Jackson, whose record in war and whose administration in peace as the head of the Great Republic shine on with advancing years. Time has only added luster to his name, increased the obligations of his countrymen and exalted him in their affections.

“The builders of the State, who had forced their way through the trackless forests of this splendid domain, brought with them the same high ideals and fearless devotion to home and country, founded on resistance to oppression, which have everywhere made illustrious the Anglo-American name. They came willing and anxious to fight for independence and liberty and in the war of the Revolution were ever loyal to the standard of Washington.

“Moved by the highest instincts of self-government and the loftiest motives of patriotism under the gallant old John Sevier at Battle of King's Mountain, your forefathers bravely vindicated their honor and gloriously won their independences. Tennesseans have always been volunteering, not drafted patriots.

“In 1846 when 2,400 soldiers were called for, 30,000 loyal Tennesseean offered their services and amid the trials and terrors of the great Civil War, under conditions of peculiar distress and embarrassment, her people divided on contending sides. But upon whichever side found, they fought fearlessly to death and gallant sacrifice. Now, happily there are no contending sides in this glorious commonwealth or in any part of our common country. The men who opposed each other in dreadful battle a third of a century ago, are once more and forever united together under one flag in a never-to-be-broken union.”

At the conclusion of Mr. McKinley's speech, a hickory cane, notably unadorned but sturdy and made from wood grown on the Hermitage property, was presented to the President on behalf of the Ladies' Hermitage Association.

The ceremonies being concluded, the President and party went to a luncheon at the West Side Club on the grounds in front of the Administration Building.

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