Hutcherson photo party slated for Saturday

Published 12:01 am Friday, June 17, 2011

Mattie Freeney goes through J.P. Hutcherson’s records and photos. A photo identification party will be held tomorrow night at the River Falls Community Center. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

Anyone who knew J.P. Hutcherson knows he had a knack for keeping records and pictures.

“He knew just about anything you wanted to know,” said Mattie Freeney, who inherited Hutcherson’s vast collection of records.

And Hutcherson’s pictures are the highlight of a River Falls Community Center party on Saturday night.

Freeney said Hutcherson was the first black graduate in Covington County, and he graduated from the Covington County Training School in 1931.

Hutcherson’s collection includes some 500 photos ranging from 1921 to the early 1970s.

“I’m trying to identify as many of these people as I can, while trying to raise money for the center,” she said. “The majority of these pictures are old school pictures.”

Photos include students and teachers from Woodson High School, Southside Elementary, Ralph Bunche High School, Andalusia Middle School, Gantt Elementary School and Bethune Junior High School.

Once Freeney has identified as many photos as possible, she hopes to put them on display at the center.

“I hope that will be their final destination,” she said.

Freeney said Hutcherson taught school for a while, and also worked as a janitor until he retired. He was also a fixture with Red Level’s basketball team until his death in July 2000, which is how he accumulated such a vast collection.

“He kept all sorts of records,” Freeney said. “From how much money someone paid for a vacation to how much money was collected at church. He also kept a record of when children were born and when people died. His collection is really amazing.”

Freeney said the picture party is free, but there will be fish and chicken dinners available on site and donations will be appreciated.

“You can also enjoy playing pool, dominoes and card games,” she said.

The event will kick off at 6 p.m.