My recent column concerning Miss Dora Huddle, former Tennessee History teacher at Junior High School, prompted a note from Betty Durman, saying the article brought back many memories of her first years in Johnson City.

“As a student at the University of Tennessee,” said Betty, “I had Dr. Folmsbee (co-author of The Story of Tennessee) as my professor for Tennessee History and American Diplomatic History. The professor was inaudible if you did not get a front row seat in his class at Ayers Hall on the ‘Hill.’ He was dry as a bone, but like Miss Dora, he had a heart of gold lurking below that gruff surface.”

Once when Ms. Durman inadvertently underestimated the number of pages of required reading she had accumulated for his course, the professor kindly permitted her to return to the library to re-total the pages. She subsequently received an “A” for the subject. When her instructor asked her what she planned to do after graduation, she responded that she wanted to teach in Johnson City. She recalled that his eyes lit up and he praised Miss Huddle as a teacher. She was instructing at Junior High School.

Betty further noted: “I got a last minute call from school superintendent Mr. (Howard) McCorkle, offering me a job teaching science at North Junior High School. My fiancé was already in Johnson City, so I jumped at the opportunity. When I walked into the school in 1964 as a 21-year-old, I quickly realized that Dora Huddle was a force to be reckoned with among the downstairs teachers. The school staff was pretty much divided between the upstairs and downstairs groups and the line was evident even to a newcomer. My room was upstairs, but I felt close to the two groups and they both let me circulate between them.”

Betty remarked that nearly everyone on the staff was much older than she, with the exception of a teacher named Sandy Smith. The Huddle sisters were especially kind to her, recalling that Dora habitually wore red and Louise frequently adorned violet or purple. She commented that Dora would have found modern educational psychology difficult to deal with because she complimented students only when they performed well, not when they just achieved minimum requirements.

Ms. Durman humorously recalled an expression Dora uttered in the privacy of the teacher’s lounge. She would say that someone needed to be ‘bored for the simples,’ a century-old slang term meaning ‘to have one’s skull drilled to cure lunacy.” This was an occasional axiom heard on the weekday old-time radio program, Lum and Abner. When the chorus became too loud in the room directly above Dora’s, her eruptions were a regular occurrence,” said Betty, “especially when they sang ‘Little Drummer Boy’ one time too many just before Christmas every year.

“I came to be her friend and her kindness extended to my son when he was born,” said Betty. “I spent many pleasant visits at the home she shared with her sister Louise and got to know her sister Anne Hoilman when she substituted at the school.”

Betty’s note ended with these expressive words: “Miss Dora and Dr. Folmsbee are fine examples of teachers who had no visual aids and did not endeavor to entertain their charges. They simply knew their subject extremely well, told things like they were, assigned you to find out for yourself and thereby left an indelible imprint on their students. I can say of both teachers that beneath that gruff exterior laid a heart full of caring and kindness. Both helped me in ways I will always remember fondly. Thank you for remembering her.”  

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Three Huddle ladies taught in Johnson City’s public school system during the 1950s – Dora (Junior High), Louise (Science Hill) and Pansy (Columbus Powell).

Louise became my homeroom teacher in the 10thgrade. Dora was my “Tennessee History” teacher in grade 7B (fall/winter). She was a small thin lady with a strained voice and a somewhat cranky disposition. Her classroom was located on the first floor at the far northwest end of the building.

Miss Huddle’s life appeared to evolve heavily around Tennessee history. She employed both conventional and outlandish methods while instructing her pupils on the origin of the Volunteer State. Our textbook was The Story of Tennessee by Joseph H. Parks and Stanley Folmsbee. The name “Parks” is forever etched in my memory from hearing her mention him so often in class.

In 1990, I was browsing though some books at a tent sale in the parking lot opposite Greg's Pizza in North Johnson City, I spotted a 1973 sixth edition reprint of the textbook used by Miss Huddle.  In the Preface, the authors acknowledged 10 individuals who offered helpful suggestions with the preparation of the work.

Included were three locals – Miss Dora Lee Huddle, Mrs. L.W. McCown and Mr. George Finchum. The latter was a professor at Training School (University High), ETSU and Milligan College. Miss Huddle permitted the authors to use her Master’s thesis as a resource for their book.

My most memorable incident concerning my teacher was when she assigned our class to build a model log cabin similar to those used by the Tennessee pioneers. This project was shown in the textbook at the end of Chapter 3. Miss Huddle forewarned us that in order to get a decent grade the log cabin had to look authentic similar to the one shown in the textbook. We were permitted to use nails provided they did not show.

This venture turned out to be quite enjoyable and very special to me because my dad became heavily involved. He drove us to Erwin and turned onto highway 81 toward Jonesborough to a picturesque spot at the base of a hill overlooking the Nolichucky River.

While climbing the steep terrain, we placed carefully selected small tree limbs into a cardboard box. Dad and I brought the pieces home and took them into the basement. We cut the limbs into “logs,” notched each one, glued and nailed them together to form our cabin, which we mounted on a small plywood base. We utilized small pieces of rock for the chimney.

The day came for us to bring our cabins to class for grading. Miss. Huddle collected them on a large table near the door. She returned them to us in about two weeks. Not finding my cabin on the table with the others, I nervously approached my teacher as to its whereabouts. She informed me that I (and Dad) had received an “A” and that she was keeping it for permanent display in her room.

I was flattered that Miss Huddle selected my cabin for exhibit in her classroom, but felt cheated that I was not going to keep the little homemade relic that my father and I labored over for several weeks. Dad’s wise counsel was for me to graciously accept my grade and forget about the cabin. I took his advice largely because I had no aspiration to confront my teacher.

Although I did not realize it in 1956, this highly knowledgeable and dedicated instructor made a giant educational mark on my life by spurring my interest in local history. I only wish she were alive today to read this column. Dora Huddle will forever reside in my memory … along of course with Mr. Parks. 

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The May 24, 1940 student publication, “Junior High News,” offered a synopsis of 16 school sponsored clubs that included each one’s purpose, faculty sponsor (fs), president (p), vice-president (vp) and secretary (s).

Home Economics Club: Miss Lindsey (fs), Elizabeth McMackin (p), Mildred Morelock (vp) and Geraldine Greene (s). “Learn and discuss home duties and send representatives to meetings in Washington and Unicoi Counties to find out what other school clubs are doing.”

Bird Club: Miss Mathes (fs), Vergie Tester (p), Tibby McMackin (vp) and Clarice Dickson (s).  “Learn about habits, customs and ways of living for different species of birds.”

Dramatic Club: Mr. Belew (fs), Marilyn Gibson (p); Elizabeth Rowe (vp) and Anna Marie Irish (s). “Promote interest in dramatics, perform skits and pantomimes and learn how to apply make-up.”

Recreation Club: Miss Candler (fs), Marguerite Long (p) and Betty Cooley (s).  “Promote interest in athletics for girls.”

Junior Red Cross Club: Miss Barnes (fs), Betty Ruth Williams (p), Mary Frances Nave (vp); and Billy Highsmith (s). “Help others who are less fortunate than us.”

The Stage Frighters Club: Miss Grigsby (fs). “Give boys and girls a chance to appear before the public, present programs in chapel and before PTA gatherings and offer skits to each other during meetings.” Apparently no one was audacious enough to serve as an officer because no names were listed.

Science Club: Mr. Boyd (fs), James Bridges (p), Toy Johnson (vp) and Paul Swatsell (s). “Bestow more knowledge of science to boys and girls.” 

Civic Club: Mr. Hall (fs), Mae Saylor (p), Virginia Curtis (vp) and Queenie Mitchell (s). “Learn the happenings of our government and facts about famous people.”

Girls Craft Club: Miss Whitehead (fs), Beverly Smythe (p) and Betty Asquith (s). “Teach members to make beautiful and ornamental things with their hands.”

Glee Club: Miss Hart (fs), Sammy Rose (p) and Marilyn Gibson (s). Promote better singing for students. “Gain confidence by singing for PTA, radio and at the Music Festival.” 

Short Story Club: Mrs. Miller (fs), John Human (p), Eloise Wagner (vp) and Mary Ann Carmack (s). “Read and study the short story.”

Modern Authors Club: Miss Siler (fs), Marie Parrott (p), Harold Oliver (vp) and Martha Darden (s). “Learn more about the numerous authors of today and their works.”

Latin Club: Miss Taylor (s), Bill McNeese (consul) and Lone Sisk (scriba). “Acquire more knowledge about the old Roman way of life.”

The Cherokee Hiking Club: Comprised of Boys Division and Girls Division. Girls Division: Miss Bradshaw (fs), Miss Beard (fs),  Dorothy Newell (p), Nora Ellen White (vp) and Martha Carter (S). Boys Division: Mr. McCorkle (fs), Mr. Oaks (fs), Jack Greene (p), Eric Herrin (vp), Harold Barr (s) and Charlie McCoy (treasurer). The purpose of the club was not given.

The Travel Club: Miss Archer (fs), Lone Sisk (p), Eric Herrin (vp) and Ruth Ann Sells (s). “Study about the beauties and wonders of our own and other countries. Encourage the reading of travel books.”

The Patrol Club: Mr. McCorkle (fs), W. T. Willis (Major), Mac Trammell (Captain) and Gerald Goode (Captain). “Maintain safety on entering and leaving the building, effectively use Traffic Guides to maintain order and keep traffic moving in the halls and corridors.”

The 1940 newsletter concluded with the graduates commenting about how enjoyable and profitable the club experiences were to them at Junior High School.  

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A yellowed-with-age April 15, 1960 12-page Boones Creek High School publication, “Bar Tracks,” offers an interesting peek into student life of almost a half century ago.

The newspaper staff included Ronnie Hale (Editor), Charlotte Fitzgerald (Co-Editor), Bob Qualls (Art), Johnny Utsman (Sports) and Geraldine Hawkins (Business Manager). Richard Nixon won a student poll for the upcoming presidential election with 251 votes compared to John Kennedy’s 38 votes.

A student calendar showed future events for the school: April 23- “Chili Feed” sponsored by the Ruritan Club; April 29- Glee Club Operetta, “Stephen Foster,” comprised of 50 students; May 9, Senior Trip to Washington and New York; May 19, Glee Club Concert; May 20, Band Concert; May 27, Junior-Senior Banquet; June 5, Baccalaureate Service; and June 6, Graduation.

The forthcoming Easter holiday season was noted with a hand-drawn sketch of a cross containing the first six verses of Luke 24. Bobby Rowe received a plaque and gold pin for winning an essay contest with a spiritual entry titled “My True Security.”

Under the heading, “Seniors Are Strange Creatures,” a senior was defined as “that enviable person who, after 11 years of carrying textbooks back and forth between home and school, still hasn’t learned how to open one.”

The Honor Roll was announced with 47 students receiving first honors and 55 with second. The student government held a meeting on April 20, 1960 in county offices at Jonesboro.

Martha Lee Cash previewed the approaching senior bus trip and concluded with a plea to teachers: “The tired but happy vagabonds will return home after a very full five days and four nights. So teachers, please be considerate of the sleeping seniors on Monday who are present only in body, not in spirit.”

A tally of seniors revealed 29 of them planning to attend college after graduation: East Tennessee State College, 19; Milligan College, 3; University of Tennessee, 3; and (Johnson City) Business College, 4. Four students had plans to enter military service.

Fourteen students applied for positions within the FBI after a representative spoke at the school. Annual starting salaries were $3400 for clerical work, $3500 for typists and $3600 for secretaries. 

The Editorial Club visited the Johnson City Press-Chronicle on March 18 and toured three departments – Presto Engraving, News and Advertising. Students observed type being set on plates from which the first impression was obtained. They also saw messages being received on Teletype machines.

Larry Reid returned from Nashville from the 4-H Club Congress comprised of about 600 representatives. The clubber showed an 883-pound grand champion Angus steer in the East Tennessee Fat Cattle Show.

The Bars’ 12-game baseball schedule included games with Unaka, Jonesboro, Fall Branch, Hampton, Washington College, Training School, Happy Valley, Sulphur Springs and Lamar.

Phyllis Bledsoe expressed her feelings about graduation in a moving six-verse poem, “Within These Walls,” that concluded with these words: “Within these walls, I learned to laugh, Within these walls, to cry. I was happier here that I’ve ever been. I have to say goodbye. As I go out to lead my life, With all its bumps and falls, I’ll ne’re forget the things I’ve learned, Within these hallowed halls.”

Thank you, Boones Creek seniors of 1960, for leaving some of your “Bar Tracks” behind for us to read almost 50 years later. 

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I received correspondence from seven readers over the past several months whose cherished recollections of West Side School just keep flowing from their memories. Jim Crumley attended classes there in 1958-59 when Ms. Ewall was principal. His father also went there and had Mildred Taylor for his first grade teacher.

Jim recalled Miss Taylor's unique disciplinary techniques: “She would draw a circle with chalk in the corner of the room and place your nose close to the circle and advise you not to move your nose from the area. “She would grab you by the chin and shake it rapidly or take you by the lobe of the ear and lead you to wherever she thought you needed to be.”

Jim recalled that he had just completed the second grade when the school closed its doors. He feels the old structure’s demise was hastened by Ms. Thompson, the third grade teacher, who fell through the floor outside her classroom and broke her ankle. According to Jim, not all West Side School students were shipped to Henry Johnson; those who lived south of Lamont Street were dispatched to South Side.

Mildred Taylor lived in Jonesborough and rode the bus each school day to Johnson City. Jim remembers seeing her walk past his house on her way downtown to catch the bus. Carolyn Byrd Wilcox, who attended West Side School in 1953-59, also commented on Miss Taylor’s unusual punitive practices, saying that her discipline “took on a more ‘hands on’ approach.”

Jim Rhein wrote that his aunt, Maude Meek, and her daughter, Evelyn Ford, taught school at West Side for many years. Maude spoke favorably of the principal, Mr. Mahoney.  John Hughes spoke of Miss Meek, music teacher; Miss Tomlinson, third grade teacher who taught him to write in longhand (cursive); and Mrs. Sisk, fourth grade teacher who introduced him to Scripto blue ink and fountain pens. He said that Mrs. Martin served in the twofold role of sixth grade teacher and librarian, her library being situated in the back of her classroom.

Glenn Stroup related that his family moved to the Holston Apartments in 1940, and that he started attending West Side that fall in the second grade. He remembers Mr. Mahoney and three teachers: Martha Prator, Georgia Tomlinson and Carrie Lee Yoakley. “For those of us living in the Holston and other apartments along Main Street,” said Glenn, “it was easy to get to school – just dart across the street.”

He once was told to report to the principal's office immediately after school, causing him to worry all day about what he had done: “I was relieved to discover that Mr. Mahoney just wanted to know if my mother wanted to keep her large ferns in the school over the winter. Whew!” Glenn recalled classmate, Joe McClain, who later became a major league baseball player: “Almost every time he came up to bat, he knocked the ball across the street, leaving no doubt it was a home run.”

Terry Parsons was at the school between 1951 and 1957 and recollects when Mr. Mahoney rang the old bell in the mornings, signaling that it was time to get to school: “He let a few of us pull the big rope extending from the ceiling just outside the auditorium to ring the bell.”

An unidentified reader alleged that his father participated in a Halloween ritual at West Side by mischievously wrapping the school's bell clapper with rags to thwart the bell ringer. West Side School may have been deceased since 1961, but it still has a special place etched in the hearts of those who once walked its hallowed halls.   

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One year ago yesterday, Johnson City lost one of its crown jewels. Mrs. Ida Miller Cowell, widow of former city commissioner and radio and television legend Eddie Cowell passed away after a lingering illness.

I frequently conversed with Ida during research of her husband’s illustrious career for a Johnson City Press feature story. I enjoyed Mrs. Cowell’s lively and energetic phone calls; her voice always swelled with pride every time I mentioned Eddie’s name. Ida’s son, Joe, loaned me her 1938 high school annual, The Wataugan. Today’s column is a brief review of this school publication and a tribute to this fine lady.

The attractive brunette’s senior picture is shown on page 30, along with her impressive accolades: “It is better to be lucky than wise. Dramatic, 2 3, 4; J. Janes Club, 2; Home Economics, 3; French, 3, 4; J club, Secretary, 4; Hilltop Staff and Honor Society, 4.”


The Foreword spoke of the seniors’ desire to preserve memories of their high school life: “If we have contributed to a fuller interpretation of the values of high school experiences, we the seniors of ’38 ask no greater reward.”

The publication was dedicated to two individuals, Miss Una Harris and Mr. J.F. Copp, for their “active interest and enthusiastic support.” One student, Ann King, wrote a four-verse poem titled “To Science Hill.” The first verse read: “We sing a song of Science Hill, Of bricks and stones and lumber, Terraces of vivid green, And steps of countless number.” The last line is in reference to the 88 steps that lead up “The Hill” from Roan Street to the building.

The principal and superintendent in 1938 were N.E. Hodges and Roy Bigelow respectively. Tom Peterson served as editor of The Wataugan, the school annual, and Annie Lauderdale was editor-in-chief of The Hilltop, a student publication.

A “Senior Class Wills” page of attributes and objects left behind by graduating seniors began with these clever words: “We the Sitting Bulls and Many Ha Ha’s of ’38, before departing for the Happy Hunting Ground, do pause to bestow our papooses treasures inherited, acquired and captured.” The list of 36 bestowed items included the “dug-out” left by the WPA, hope of a new gym, correct answers for getting admits, “hole-in-one” golf card, war whoop, excess jewelry, hours spent in the library, chemistry knowledge, popularity and good looks.

The page creatively concluded with: “Now dear papooses, we feel that if you use correctly, carefully and intelligently, the wild game and scalps which we have left you that you too may depart ere long on that journey to the Happy Hunting Ground by way of ‘swim or sink creek.’”

One page “Keeping Up With Our Alumni of ’36 and ‘37” paused to look into the present to see what alumni of the previous two years were doing: “Science Hill does produce some good citizens. What would Sevier Drug be without Bill Darden, King’s Dept. Store without Howard Miller, Southern Shoe Store without Bobbie Neal, Hannah’s without Jimmy, Bolton Coal Co. without Charles, Majestic Theatre without Cline Holtsclaw and Appalachian Funeral Home without Paul Dyer?”

Several students were enrolled in local colleges. One student, Mac Bigelow, was said to be in Italy teaching Mussolini a few tricks. Another, Bobbie Piston, resided at Vanderbilt studying to be a doctor.

The annual’s final 16 pages contained 68 advertisements. Some of the lesser known ones were Miss Reece Holloway’s Dancing School, The Bypath, Sam S. Fain Grocery, Lyle Candy Co. and Ruth Andrews Florist. 

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Imagine looking in on a one-room school in 1880 infant Johnson City with one teacher instructing six grades. Miss Stern, a strict, priggish schoolmarm is sitting at her desk with a shiny red apple positioned to her right.

The old institution of lower education is reflective of the times: a school bell regimenting the students’ activities, potbellied stove nearby, water bucket in one corner, slate chalkboard along the front wall, dunce stool and wooden paddle present – all necessary instructional tools. Notably absent is an inside bathroom.

Miss Stern beckons her impish class to get out their McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition, for the day’s lesson. The smallish 160-page glossy page reader contains 71 short lessons, most containing an impressive black and white detailed illustration. The preface instructs the educator to look closely at each picture and include such observations with the lesson.  

Teacher Stern next asks her pupils to turn to lesson 14, “Henry the Bootblack.” She commences by going over the pronunciation and meaning of 17 new words contained in the text. Included are “support,” “money,” “blacking,” “boots,” “belong” and “manage.” The storyline entails Henry, a kind young boy whose widowed mother must labor hard to care for her son and daughter. After Henry finds a wallet stuffed full of money and returns it to the rightful owner, he is rewarded with a dollar.

The currency allows him to buy a bootblack box, three brushes and blacking. His acute politeness to customers in his new job earns him much business, which greatly supplements his mother’s meager income. The sketch in the lesson shows the shabbily dressed Henry and an immaculately attired male customer wearing a derby hat. The lad’s box and contents can be seen laying on the sidewalk next to the curb.

McGuffey readers appeared on the scene in 1836 when a Cincinnati publishing house released the first four Eclectic Readers that were selected by an Ohio schoolteacher and a teacher/ preacher named William Holmes McGuffey. Eventually, there were six readers, a primer and a spelling book.

Although McGuffey is credited for authoring the first four Readers in 1836 and 1837, his brother Alexander produced the last two volumes during the 1840s. The Readers emphasized spelling, vocabulary, and formal public speaking. An estimated 120 million readers sold between 1836 and 1960.

The product dominated the elementary textbook scene through the turn of the last century, undergoing numerous edition changes. The primary focus of the authors seemed to be stressing life’s values. The carefully chosen selections of prose and poetry from such masters of literature as John Milton, Daniel Webster and Lord Byron, as well as others, taught youngsters true patriotism, integrity, honesty, industry, temperance, courage, politeness and other moral and intellectual virtues.”

McGuffey's Readers were among the first textbooks in America that were designed to become progressively more challenging with each edition. The readers employed repetition in the text as a learning tool, which built strong reading skills through challenging reading. McGuffey died in 1873. Although the little books went out of vogue in the educational community many years ago, about 30 thousand books are sold annually to public, private and home schools. 

These little quaint nostalgic didactic reminders of rural 19th century Americana are a significant part of our rich heritage.  

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My father grew up on E. Fairview Avenue just two blocks from Martha Wilder School at Myrtle and New, where he attended grammar school. His 2A report card for 1923 shows Alena Woodall as his teacher and Larry Childress the principal.

The building once had a unique large enclosed metal fire-escape chute that extended from the second floor to the ground. My grandmother Cox’s scrapbook contains an undated newspaper clipping with the heading “Martha Wilder Entertains.” The article deals with students giving “one of the most delightful and successful entertainments of all the spring festivities.” The program began with a welcome song by children from all six grades followed by a folk dance of eight girls from Miss Williams’ classroom with each young lady dressed in a snow-white dress.

To quote from the article: “The 'Train to Mauro' was the dramatic feature of the evening in which little Miss Dorothy Remine played the role of Mrs. Buttermilk, a country woman who believed ‘charity to all with her herbs and roots' and who had advice to spare to everybody. Little Buster Barlow as Johnny Buttermilk had come to the conclusion that nothing on earth could keep his mother from talking, especially when he was starving to death for a piece of ginger bread. The station clerk, played by Elbert Whiteside, did not appreciate Mrs. Buttermilk’s advice and was greatly irritated by her insistence on going ‘To Mauro’ today.”

Another routine portrayed Millicent Ffollett as “Springtime,” clad in a dainty white frock, wearing a fairy crown and possessing a magic wand. With each wave of it, she produced an array of lovely spring flowers, represented by little girls dressed in exquisite apparel displaying a wide variety of spring colors. Several small boys wearing white suits followed Springtime and sprinkled frost over the pretty flowers, causing them to wilt and die. Observing the demise of the flowers, Doris Serl, depicting the role of Queen of Sunbeams, appeared with her magic wand and smiled so warmly upon the flowers that they once again raised their graceful little heads and blossomed.

Other acts including “The Sick Doll,” a clever dialogue, and “Swing Song” by Ida Mae Walker were greatly enjoyed. The program finished with a reading by Miss Kate Remine, as she delightfully impersonated a charming yet mischievous little girl known as “Naughty Zell.” The teachers of Martha Wilder were highly commended for producing such a delightful program.

Grandma’s scrapbook also contained a brief death notice for Martha Wilder: “City Founder’s Daughter Dies – Funeral was held yesterday at Chattanooga for Martha Wilder, 88, for whom one of Johnson City’s oldest schools was named. She died Sunday at her home in Media, Pa.” The clipping identified Martha as a daughter of the late Gen. John Thomas Wilder, a founder of Johnson City who gave land for the school in 1892. The property later became the site of a vocational training facility and eventually the city’s Senior Center. Another school, Annie Wilder Stratton, was named for Martha’s sister who married Frank Stratton.

Gen. Wilder was a Union Army officer who led the Union forces against Chattanooga in August 1863. Shortly after the close of the war, he relocated from New York to the Chestoa section of what is now Unicoi County.

During the industrialist’s lifetime, he built several hydroelectric power dams in the area, operated two blast furnaces and constructed two hotels on Roan Mountain, a log building and the popular Cloudland Hotel that was destroyed by fire in 1885. 

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In March 1961, my fellow Science Hill High School students and I began an orderly transfer to a new spacious modern school building located on John Exum Parkway. With the excitement of moving to the new facility, we hardly glanced back to the top of Roan Hill where students, dating back to 1864, had received an education.

On June 2, we seniors flipped the tassels on our hats and were blissfully added to the learning institute’s long list of graduates. We hold the distinction of having attended the last classes at the old downtown 88-step building and having graduated from the new one. On Nov. 21 that year, SHHS celebrated its first basketball game in the new gym with a “Dedication Game.” According to an event program, the contest pitted the “Hilltoppers” against the visiting Training School’s “Jr. Bucs.”

Special guests included C. Howard McCorkle, School Superintendent; George Greenwell, Principal; Carl Jones, President of the Chamber of Commerce; and Jack Chinouth, President of the Sports Club. City Commissions were invited as well: Mae Ross McDowell, Mayor; Carroll Long, V. Mayor; David Walker; Ben Crumley; Ross Spears, Jr.; David Burkhalter, City Manager; and Carl Johnson. School Board members included E.T. Brading, Chairman; Viola Mathes; Nat T. Sizemore; Richard T, Haemsch, Jr.; William S. Sells; John F. Lawson; John Seward; George Speed; John C. Howren; Forrest K. Morris and Gerald Goode.

The game was preceded with a 15-minute dedication service at 8:00 pm. Rev. Weldon Estes, pastor of Clark Street Baptist Church, offered the dedicatory prayer, followed by the presentation of colors from the ROTC Color Guard consisting of Hartman Gurley, Jack Onks, Kyle Bulla, Martin Crawford and Tommy Thompson.

Warren Weddle, the Hilltoppers’ colorful band director, guided the musicians as they played the National Anthem. John Seward, chairman of the Athletic Council, offered greetings and concluded the service.

It was then time to sit back and enjoy an exciting sporting event. Coach Elvin Little and Assistant Coach Paul Brewster directed the Toppers; Coach Bob Paynter andAssistant Coach Joe Shipley managed the Jr. Bucs. Players on the Topper squad were Bobby Jones, Lonnie Lowe, Carroll Vance, Steve Spurrier, Al Ferguson, Jimmy Evans, Richard Goode, Donny Bates, Tommy Hager, Choo Tipton, Bill Wilson and Ted Roberts. The Buc roster included Nick Owens, Mack Edmisten, Jerry Morris, Joe Pence, Ron Rodgers, Don Shearin, Wilbur Bond, Howell Sherrod, John Wilson, Wayne Miller, Sonny Treadway, Don York and Nick McCurry.

Not to leave out a key ingredient of any basketball game, the home team cheerleaders, consisting of Sheila Bolding, Mary Alice Gordon, Nancy McCorkle, Ann Meredith, Patti Pitts, Kathleen Wiley and Judy Yeiser, kept the crowd lively. The visiting team’s yells were orchestrated by Nancy Gordon, Janice Volrath, Barbara Vaughn, Carole Mullins and Margaret Taylor.

Under the leadership of Commanding Officer Martin Wright, the ROTC Sponsors entertained at halftime with a precision drill maneuver from Barbara Mann, Diane Cross, Sally Muse, Raylene Arwood, Madelyn Langdon, Jane Montgomery, Sheila McDaniel, Jill Hanselman, Claire Thacker, Marcy Edmonds and Ruth Gobel.

According to Larry Reaves, the basketball contest concluded with a 49-33 win for the Toppers. If you participated in the transfer in 1961 from the old to the new “hill,” drop me a note and share your special remembrances.   

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My two columns on Johnson City's Junior High School brought back treasured memories to an area resident. Dr. Jim Bowman, retired ETSU professor, provided me with an assortment of written reminisces covering his attendance at the school between 1949 and 1952, which he described as “three great years”:

 “I recall the perennial ‘coin drop’ when guys would flip a penny in someone's chili or vegetable soup – two staple items of Billy Carpenter (son of the cafeteria manager, Mary Carpenter). The victim had to make a hurried choice: either take a risk by devouring the contaminated substance or leaving the dining room hungry.”

An unusual act by a disgruntled student who assumed he was being punished too severely for playing hooky occasioned a second tale from Bowman: “The youngster retaliated by removing the handles from the water coolers' faucets. However, the brave plumber was smart enough not to tamper with the ones near the principal's office. The perplexed faculty and staff never knew the culprit's identity.”

The retired prof offered a third anecdote: “One of the oddest events involved Mr. Hart, the shop teacher. One day a husky ex-Marine appeared in class. The teacher welcomed the impromptu visitor. Standing by a mound of sawdust, the young man challenged the instructor to a friendly fight. A few seconds later, the able-bodied youth emerged from the room with a mouthful of sawdust.”

A fourth yarn occurred just after basketball practice: “I heard some guys yell for me to run. They related how they had managed to lock one of the coaches in the locker room.  I don't remember who let him out, only that it was far into the night.

“As a newcomer to the seventh grade, I was warned not to cross the path of our mechanical drawing mentor, Mr. Hillenbrand.  When I asked why, I was told his paddling would virtually lift its targets off the ground. When I saw the man's small stature, I doubted their word. Thus, I thought I'd find out for myself; I’d just put Mr. H to the test.  After all, Mr. Presnell, the physical education teacher, had struck me before, and I barely felt a thing. In this case, however, my first-hand experience led me to conclude that my peers were more right than wrong.”

Jim’s most vivid memory is of a newcomer to the faculty ranks, Mr. Terrell Ponder: “About all I had heard about the lanky teacher's past was that he was a good left-handed baseball pitcher. That set well with me. After all, Don Akers, Jack Parks and Marion Winebarger were three baseball gurus who captured my attention every day at lunchtime. But Mr. Ponder was more to me than a gifted athlete. Every day I noticed that he stayed at the rear of the line when his students filed in to the cafeteria, refusing to eat until all of his boys and girls had acquired their tray of food.  

“Terrell Ponder stayed in the education profession throughout his career. Eventually, the ‘you-first, me-last’ gentleman became superintendent of the Johnson City schools.  He had an uncanny knowledge of curriculum and an undeniable love for children. However, the economy took its toll on some of our other male teachers.  To make a decent living, four of them chose to estrange themselves from us, going to work with Tennessee Eastman Co., the FBI, Tri-Cities Airport and General Shale.”

Jim concluded his remarks with a positive recollection of the educational facility: “Our teachers always forgot our misdeeds at school and never entertained the thought of telling our parents about our silly misdemeanors.”  

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