Carolina class of 1958 had memorable years in 3rd, 4th grades

Published 9:17 am Saturday, March 18, 2017

Today’s writing is still a continuation of the Class of 1958 experiencing third and fourth grades at Carolina School. Again, the writer tells of his personal memories of the two years from Fall 1948 through Spring 1950.

The third grade was one of my very favorites, maybe became the teacher, Mrs. Foster (Missouri) Wiggins, was very creative and planned many fun activities for students. She taught us to do various kinds of art including finger-painting. She instructed us in building shadow boxes of various type landscapes. She also encouraged group singing and taught us to perform and enjoy the Virginia Reel, a lively folk-dance. She thoroughly covered all the basics for third grade, which included cursive writing. She maintained a very attractive classroom with a lounging or rest area including a rug, small sofa, etc. in the rear.

Mrs. Wiggins could also be very strict, which can be illustrated by an instance when she lined up the entire class outside the room and had each one to enter and receive a lick from her paddle. The class had abandoned their assignment and had gotten too loud when she had to be away for a few minutes. Actually, the students somewhat enjoyed the unplanned attention since everyone was treated the same and the lick was not a hard one.

During the Halloween season, Mrs. Wiggins helped us make a mask out of newspaper and four paste. She had us to bring flour sacks, which were pulled over the head after which she cut holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. Then strips of paper dipped in flour paste were applied until the face was sufficiently covered. When it dried, we were allowed to choose the color paints we preferred for decorating it. The Halloween carnival was a big family event and fund-raiser for the school, and each class produced some type entertainment. Mrs. Wiggins’s class always had the “Go Fishing” booth. Each student was asked to bring an item for the fishing prizes, and I recall that my mother made the cutest stuffed toy elephant, which was made from large green polka dotted material. (I wanted to keep that toy so much, but I knew I had to let it go for the booth.) Also, each class elected a king and queen as another means of getting donated funds. The carnival was fun for all and a great success in supporting the school.

On the last day of the school year, the principal and teachers took grades four through eight for a picnic and swimming at Open Pond, which was traditional for years. That left grades one through three at the school. With us being the oldest as third-graders, we thought we were something special. The big event was that we were allowed to cook our noon meal in the cafeteria. Of course, Mrs. Wiggins planned the activity well and allowed for each class member to have some part. She wanted us to not feel left out of the swimming trip.

Mrs. Bessie Cross was our teacher for the fourth grade. She was musically inclined and encourage our singing. A highlight of the year was her teaching us to play a flute-o-phone, a small plastic flute-like instrument. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Jingle Bells” were two of the favorite tunes. That was a very proud accomplishment for us country kids. She also taught us how to square dance, and she was the teacher in charge of the school’s annual May pole dance. She was a sound teacher and seemed to glean ideas from her colleague, Mrs. Wiggins. She also had a small rest area with sofa and rug in the rear of her classroom. One of the most thrilling things Mrs. Cross did was tell us about the playful deeds of “Johnny and Tom Opossum.” We would often wash our hands outside in preparation for lunch and then have to wait in the classroom to be called to the cafeteria. Mrs. Cross would frequently tell us a Johnny and Tom story, which excited us beyond measure.

During these early years, students enjoyed numerous outdoor games during their “recess” or play periods. Some of them were “May I,” “Red Rover, Red Rover,” and dodge ball. A few years later, we enjoyed various sports, jump rope, and bouncing on a large board, which was placed over some heavy base. We readily found fun activities to entertain themselves.

The class was very fortunate to have a group picture taken during our fourth grade. The students were arranged in the courtyard under the windows of Mrs. Cross’s classroom. The students are identified as a cut line with the accompanying picture.

This narrative will be continued next week describing other years of this class. Anyone who has additional information on the history of Carolina School or any question regarding this story is requested to contact the writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: