Remember when: Straughn School in 1947

Published 4:05 am Saturday, October 28, 2017

Some interesting artifacts were recently donated to the Three Notch Museum by Kendall and Patsy Cassady Taylor. Patsy was the daughter of the late Evelyn Wiggins Murphree. Evelyn was a junior at Straughn High School in the 1946-47 school year when this first annual or yearbook that was given to the historical society was published after World War II. The Foreword reads, “The aim of this, our first annual, is to revive a patriotic school spirit and to serve as a memento of the happy experiences we have had in school.”

It is a certainty that the students listed and pictured in this annual from the twelfth grade down to the first grade had suffered losses of family members, neighbors, church members, classmates, and even sweethearts in the war so the teachers were dedicated to making that school year one with happiness. The Dedication reads, “To the Principal, Harold Richburg, the teachers – Mrs. Sara C. Smith, Mrs. Constance B. Turner, Mrs. Ed Gantt – who have kindly given their time and cooperation, and to all the future graduating classes of Straughn High School, we dedicate “MEMORIES of S. H. S.”

     Trustees of the school listed were E. Williams, J. H. Clark, and C. C. Bennett.

School clubs were the Beta Club, the Glee Club, the Annual Staff, the F. F. A., and the F. H. A. Athletic organizations included the Basketball and Jr. Basketball teams and the Cheerleaders.

Editor-In-Chief of the Annual Staff was Clara Radford. Assistant Editor was Arvel Adams. Other staff members included Elaine Straughn, Class Editor; James Nelson, Athletic Editor; Valencia Colvin, Activity Editor; Yvonne Livings, Secretary; and Dorothy Colvin; Advertising Manager.

Valedictorian of the Senior Class was Clara Radford. Salutatorian was Jeanette Whatley. Queen of F. H. A. was Nell Croft. King of F. F. A. was James Williams.

All of the pictures in this yearbook are precious likenesses of these students. Many of the girls have white collars and pearl necklaces or lockets which was the style at the time. (I remember the late Myrtle Kervin once telling me that a girl’s photograph looked so much better if she wore a white collar!)

In the Senior Class “Last Will and Testament,” classmates willed some of the following: “flirty ways, basketball playing ability, good looks, dimples, privilege of sleeping in class, leadership ability, beauty, personality, singing ability, artistic ability, knowledge of Shakespeare’s works, good grades, love for the U. S. Army, and popularity” along with “our ability to cooperate, to win contests, and to do as we please” to the Juniors!

“To the faculty, we leave our deepest sympathy for their great loss – an intelligent group of students!”

The Class Motto was “We’ve crossed the bay in safety; the ocean lies in view.” Class colors were pink and green. Class flower was the Gladiola. The Class Poem was beautifully written. “Our golden days are at an end, It’s time for parting my dear friends, So cheer up, Smile and be gay, Be prepared for we’re now on our way. We’re looking out far ahead, We’re turning the right road to lead, and not to be led. Watch us as we trod along, Saying farewell and singing a song. Life holds a future for each and every one, May these days be joyous with lots of fun, Our hearts are pounding , that’s true, But we’ve crossed the bay in safety, And the ocean lies in view.”

Here are some excerpts from the Class History: “In the fall of nineteen thirty-five, the Senior Class of nineteen forty-seven began making a name in history. That was twelve long years ago. We will never forget those cold days when we stood around the wood heaters.”

“One of the most outstanding things we did in the first grade was to build a doll house large enough for us to stand up in, and we furnished it under the supervision of our teacher, Miss Agnes Wishum.”

“In the third grade, we had a rhythm band under the leadership of Miss Lena Caton. In the year 1941, something outstanding happened besides the attack on Pearl Harbor. We stepped up in high school, at last, Jrs. I’s.”

“In 1943 our class increased in size. Students joined the class from Sanford and Rose Hill. We got acquainted quickly and made progress that year. The boys and girls were separated in homerooms. The boys won the Red Cross Drive Contest among the six grades in high school. A girl from our class, Vivian Mooney, won the place as “Miss Straughn High” in a beauty contest.”

“Now, as seniors, we are still an outstanding group of young people. We are again making progress under the sponsorship of Mrs. Sara Smith. One of our boys, James Williams, won the honor of ‘King of the Future Farmers of America.’ In our class, we have much talent as well as good looks. We have a fine quartet, players of musical instruments, and artists.”

“The Senior Class which consists of 22 graduates of 1947 is leaving along with its best wishes some worthwhile gift to the school.”

Junior class president was Eldred Croft. Class colors were red and white. Class flower was the Gardenia. Class motto was “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Mrs. Katie Jo Robertson was the teacher.

The Sophomore Class president was John Clark. Class Colors were purple and yellow. Class flower was the Camellia. Song leader was Sybil Chism. Class Motto was “Forward Ever; Backward Never.”

Who’s Who students, I will note a few, were “Prettiest Girl – Lois Mitchell; Most Handsome Boy – James Williams; Flirtiest Girl – Thelma Worley; Girl Most Likely to Succeed – Jeanette Whatley; Boy Most Likely to Succeed – James Nelson; Most Talented Girl – Yvonne Livings; Cutest Girl – Kathryn Dunn; Most Studious Boy – Lowell Worley; Best All-Around Boy – Brooks Butler; Quietest Boy – Junior Mathews.”

The Beta Club play, “Shrubbery Hill,” was presented in the school auditorium. One of the goals of the year was to leave to the school an electric score keeper and to sponsor a radio show on WCTA. The F. H. A. hoped to become a Gold Star Chapter by the end of the school year.

The faculty included Mrs. Sara Smith, Mrs. Katie Robertson, Mrs. Rubie Gantt, Mrs. Ann Gantt, Mrs. Clarita Gillis, Mrs. Gertrude Clark, Mrs. Bernice Green, Mrs. Constance Turner, Mrs. Myrtice McDaniel, Mr. R. C. Frederick, Mr. Robert Kelsoe, Mr. J. W. Gillis, Mr. Richard Thomas, Lois Powell, Juanita Mallette, Elizabeth Pelham, Mrs. Erie Clark, Mrs. Arlene Gantt, Mrs. Susie Richburg, Mrs. Ila Booth, Mrs. Madilyn Adams, and Mrs. Eloise Holly.

“A History of Straughn School” is found in this 1946-47 yearbook, “Memories of S. H. S.” The story is a real treasure so I will share it with you, the readers, since you may not have ever seen this version before, and some of you will want this information for a keepsake. If there are any errors of spelling or information, you may contact me for corrections or additions.

Straughn School was organized in the summer of 1887 and opened in the Shiloh Church on land now owned by J. C. Bradley. R. H. Jones was the first teacher and approximately 30 pupils were enrolled in school. A log school house was built by J. H. Caton, D. I. Straughn, E. A. Straughn, W. L. Straughn, Jackson Dozier, Dennis Boyett, E. N. Harrelson, and Andrew Ganus.”

“School continued in this place for four years with the following teachers; Issac Wooten – 1888; Ollie Bragg – 1889 and 1890; D. D. Williams – 1891. This school house was on land known as railroad land and soon reclaimed by the government. It was homesteaded by Charlie Tarnum and is now owned by C. C. Bennett. The school was moved in 1892 to a location on the D. H. White estate. This building was a boxed house about 30 X 40 feet.”

“There were eight summer schools taught by the following teachers: Bob Justice, Lon Justice, Hillary Chilliary, Ben Mills, Will Livings, T. C. Stallins, G. W. Hattway, and Lawrence Mallette. The first winter school was taught by Lawrence Mallette in the winter of 1898 and 1899. The following is an incomplete record of teachers in this building: W. M. McLelland, Jim McLaughlin, Joe Gainy, Ben Mills, Sanford Barrow, and S. F. Weaver.”

“In 1907, a two-room house was built and patented desks and wood heaters were used. The following is a list of principal in this building: Miss Ada Booth, B. P. Floyd, T. K. Terell, T. E. Ingram, and Lela Cope.”

“In December 1913 the school house was burned and the school term was finished in the Mt. Zion Church. The principals were as follows: A. C. Freeman, E. A. Ward, Miss Sara Cole, W. R. Woodham, B. F. Weaver, and Dewey Wells.”

“In 1924 a brick building was built on the present school site. This was a consolidated high school and served the territory now recognized as Straughn School district. At the time the building was constructed, J. W. Keller was County Superintendent. Dewey Wells was principal of the school. Trustees of the school were G. O. Livingston, I. M. Harrelson, and E. Williams.”

“The vocational building was also constructed at that time. Straughn was made an accredited high school by the State Department of Education during the school year of 1924 and 1925. The following principals have served Straughn High since then: N. J. Castleberry – 1924-1927; E. F. Harlin – 1927-1929; Hugh L. Taylor – 1929-1936; G. W. Terry – 1936-1938; A. D. Ingram – 1938 – 1945; and Harold Richburg – 1945-_____”

“In March 1930 the school was destroyed by fire and was replaced with the present building – steam heated with more than 20 rooms. It has an enrollment of approximately 500 pupils and is served by 6 school buses. The following courses are offered: Academic, Commercial, Vocational Agriculture, and Vocational Home Economics. Twenty-one classes have graduated from this school ranging in number from 9 to 45 graduates.”

Many thanks to Kendall and Patsy Taylor for bringing in this yearbook which is a treasure of memories and history that enables the Straughn Community and Covington Countians to REMEMBER WHEN.

Sue Bass Wilson (AHS Class of ’65) is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at