The Old Gym
Did you know that at one time the local school was located where later the boy scout hut was built? And on the next lot up, where the John Tinkler house was, used to be a church (leaded glass windows) later it was used as the school gym. Had a balcony at front end of bldg…it was closed off, not allowed to use it. One basket ball goal board was attached to the balcony. When [the] visiting team wanted to shoot a goal there I would set off a flash gun and blind them so they would miss. I had sneaked up in the balcony and took my old 2A folding Kodak (no film) and had a separate flash gun, used bulbs only good for one flash. Got in trouble for that…lectures, unsportsmanlike etc.
Also once had a Presbyterian church across the street in front of Mr. Charlie’s [Charles H. Haynes] house. It burned and the people split up, some to the Baptist, some to the Methodist Church. Behind the old church was a two story house that was used as the teachers’ home before the brick building was put up on Main Street.
[The] village had a baseball team, Dad [Clarence Watkins] was involved in that. Was a large wood grandstand at the ball field out the road in front of the school and beyond, where later a brick house was built and J.C. Hames and wife (former Miss David) lived. When I was in high school the area was our football field.
Behind the school bldg Baron Caldwell, principal, held exercises each day and all teachers and pupils were required to attend and take part. Had monkey bars, swings, merry go round, see saws, sliding boards. The girls were bused (Clyde Sorgee, driver) to the memorial bldg (upstairs) for their cooking and sewing classes. High School was at one time on the ground floor but younger kids at recess was too distracting so the high school classes were moved to the top floor.
Once, the school had large canvas shades on the windows. They were old and had to be replaced. I obtained one of the better old ones. Had an old homemade flat-bottom boat but had never seen a sail boat. Nevertheless I nailed a sapling upright to the center seat of my boat, put a cross arm at the top and mounted the shade there. Ran a string down the pole around a bent nail on the seat so I could sit in the back of the boat, pull the string, the shade would come down and I had a sail…went around a bend one day, a gust of wind caught my sail sideways and over we turned. Could not swim a lick. Floated down river till I could grab a bush and pulled out.
I was too young to be an ass’t scoutmaster but Gerard [Davidson] (Scoutmaster) had better things to do and registered me and I had a card saying I was th ass’t scoutmaster. Once took a load of boy scouts across the river for an overnite camping trip. The boat was overloaded and had bed rolls of blankets cross ways of the obtat on top of the center seat. Dan Scruggs sat straddle of the bed rolls, way up high. He would lean over and comment, boy this side is almost under water…then turn and look at the other side…same comments. I thought I would never get him to stop rocking the boat for we were within an inch or so of sinking. I could not swim and don’t know how many of the boys could.
We made two trips back the next morning…no more overloading. And I was relieved.
Another time had a load of scouts going up river, dark as blazes at night and I kept paddling and paddling. Seemed we were never going to get to where I wanted to go. Then I noticed the outline of the trees against the night sky… Hey! We just passed that same tree not long ago…and it went by again before I figured out that I had run up on a stump and was just going round and round. Had to get the boys up front to move to the rear of the boat to float off the stump and then I could paddle on upstream.