Reader Offers His Special Reflections of West Side School

Memories of old West Side School continue to flow from J.C. Press readers, this being my fifth column on the subject. Terry Parsons, who attended the school between 1951 and 1957, offered his own personal reflections. 

“I waited with great anticipation for going into the first grade,” said Terry, “because my sister, Betty, and my brother, Roger, were already in school. I wanted to carry books, notebooks, pencils and papers back and forth to school each day. I craved it.

John Mahoney and Terry Parsons

“Mr. John Mahoney, the principal, rang the old bell in the mornings signaling that it was time to get to school. I recollect his letting a few of us pull the big rope that extended from the ceiling just outside the auditorium.” Terry offered comments about his seven teachers:

1st Grade, Mrs. Mildred Taylor: “I remember her class” said Terry, “and setting at those little rectangular tables with about four or five kids to a table. Her reading circle was at the back of the room where she read from a large book. The students read back to her and chanted, ‘See Tom run, See Spot run.’”

2nd Grade, Miss McCloud: “She was the first teacher that I had a crush on. She was a pretty dark haired woman who was single. Her boyfriend occasionally came into our class, which brought giggles from the students.”

3rd Grade, Mrs. Georgia Tomlinson: Terry described her as a robust woman and a stereotypical teacher. He said she had impressive chalk calendars on her blackboard that were really a work of art. He recalls being in a play in the auditorium as a policeman dressed in his Cub Scout shirt and pants and wearing his Safety Patrol hat and plastic white belt.

4th Grade, Mrs. Alberta Sisk: Terry depicted her as looking much like Aunt Bee of the Mayberry television series. He said the little kids were downstairs and his class finally made it upstairs. It was in the 4thgrade that he was introduced to ink pens. Learning to use this device was part of becoming a grown up – a right of passage.

5th Grade, Mrs. Mildred Adams: The 5thgrade was upstairs on the south side of the building. The teacher was a small slender woman with gray hair. He learned fractions in math, which he said began to get more complicated.

6th Grade, Mrs. Ruth Martin and Mrs. Maude Meek: Mrs. Martin taught him all courses except math, which was presented by Mrs. Meek. “We received the famous Weekly Readers, which we read and answered questions in the back of the little paper,” said Parsons. “The 6th grade was the boys’ first experience with organized football. The city had a P.E. teacher assigned to each school that organized each school’s football team. Ours was Coach Bob “Mohawk” Mays.”

Terry has vivid memories of the trees that surrounded the school and how they would turn each year into the most beautiful fall colors imaginable – rich golds, yellows and reds. His class went outside and collected leaves, brought them inside, traced them and colored the tracings. Each year, the school held a ‘’The Fall Festival,” marking the beginning of the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The entire school was heavily decorated in vivid fall colors.

Terry concluded by saying, “A lot of parents baked cakes and brought them for the ‘cake walks,’ which were held in front of the office in the great hall. One game was held at Miss Taylor’s class doorway. Curtains were strung across the door and kids took a long cane pole and fished over the curtain to catch a prize.” Ah, such memories of yesteryear.