CENTRAL WARD SCHOOL
Recently I wrote an article for the Spring 2007 edition of Traditions Magazine published by the Denison Alumni Association with Marvin Vincent as editor. My article was about Central Elementary School that still stands as a shell between the 700 blocks of Sears and Morton.
When I began the article, I sent out an e-mail to many people I thought may have gone to the school asking for remembrances. The school closed in 1979.
Soon thereafter I received a number of responses with some wonderful remembrances of attending classes there. Then one day after I had finished the article and submitted it to Marvin and his deadline was nearing, I began receiving more great remembrances. I couldn’t imagine why all of a sudden everyone seemed to have clicked at the same time.
Then I learned that my friend Britt Swain had passed along my request to a bunch of his friends, not realizing that I had sent the e-mail much earlier. I appreciate Britt’s help and all the responses from the later group. I couldn’t let them go to waste, so felt that a “Yesterday” column was in order. It was “yesterday” for all of the responders and for this writer too.
Incidentally, the way you get a copy of Traditions magazine is to join the Denison Alumni Association for $10 a year or $100 for your lifetime. I’ll be happy to get you started as will any other member, Marvin, Melvin Brown, Shellee McLaren, Richard Sneed, Bob Burton, Janie Allen, Freddy Lessly, and many more members. Just let us know and send us a check and we’ll see that your name gets on the membership list. You’ll also be helping provide scholarships, honor distinguished alumni and those who were outstanding in sports and many other activities.
We also invite you to check us out at www.denisonalumniassociation.com on the Internet where my sister, Monna Buckley of McKinney, keeps news of classes up to date.
Thousands of children passed through the doors of Central Ward School during the 62 years that it was operating. That’s a lot of memories and somehow most seem to be good ones.
Ted Ball, who was better known as Teddy, back then, went to school with Britt, Bob Noe, Marion Wilson, Wanda Parks and many more long-time friends. His first day in the first grade was in Mrs. Alice Wilson’s room. He and Bob Crump were made to sit in the corner because both of them were on the floor acting like they were shooting each other. (A definite no-no these days, but at that time just child’s play).
Another memory is of Ted’s last day at Central while his friends were waiting outside the classroom to see if he had passed history so he could go on to high school, He did and went on to graduate DHS. He said that Bob Noe has a lot of pictures of the two of them playing in the band for Central.
A.P. Ragsdale, a man that he said made a significant difference in many young men’s lives, was his coach. Ted said that “Rags” as he was known to his players, received the Navy Cross and seven Purple Hearts during World War II.
Inez Scoggin Lewis enrolled in the second grade at Central and remembers eating in the cafeteria. She thought that it was neat to eat at school and to be able to go to the little grocery store across the street and buy a hamburger or hot dog. She was allowed to skip the fourth garage and go from third to fifth the year at 12 grades went into effect.
Geneva Allen Seitz went to Central Ward starting in 1940 when the county school she was attending shut down and everyone was sent to Central. They lived in the road that led to the dam. Her two sisters, Bernice, now of Colorado, and Dorothy, who died in 1976, also went there. Geneva is living in Arizona.
Rose Marie Weaver Ulibarri remembers the fire drill when she said students had to go out a door to the fire escape. She said she was intimidated by the height while looking down through the steps and seeing the ground. She’s not sure what grade she was in, but she was in the upstairs north room. She graduated from DHS in 1948.
Her first grade teacher also was Miss Wilson and she remembers her because of her kindness when Rose began to cry as her mother was leaving the first day of school. She said to a large degree Miss Wilson influenced her in choosing the teaching profession. Rose said she also remembers Mrs. Quesenberry, not for any particular reason, but her name was unusual. Rose said that she ended up with one about the same – Ulibarri.
Clifton Weaver’s favorite memory of Central was the year he was in the eighth grade. He said in those days lunch time was an hour long so the students could go home to eat and come back to afternoon classes. Being a person who loved sports, Clifton would run home to the 900 block West Main, eat in five or 10 minutes, then run back to school to play ball.
After doing this a few weeks, his best buddy, Jerry Harlow, invited him to have a bologna sandwich and a Pepsi as his guest at the little grocery store across the street. Clifton said that was the greatest thing that had ever happened – and guess what! Jerry continued this for most of the school year.
Jerry and Clifton would serve as captains of the two teams so that allowed them to choose their teams and get the game started very quickly. He said it probably cost Jerry 25 or 30 cents, but it meant a great deal to Clifton, who never had an allowance. Clifton said that Jerry has always been one of the most devoted friends he ever had and at their 50th class reunion he honored Jerry by telling everyone that he had served as his example of a true friend.
Clifton said one of his goals in life has been to try to emulate Jerry’s friendship in being a friend to others. He said it was a tragedy for him when Jerry died a few years ago and he wants to continue honoring his memory by treating others as Jerry treated him.
Betty Thornton Scoggin started to Central Ward in the fall of 1941 in the seventh grade. She said she grew up in the country on a farm and went to Riverside school until Denison school district consolidated all the county schools, and they were bused to Central.
She remembers Miss N.E. Campbell as principal, a strong, even tempered lady. Her seventh grade teacher was Miss Marjorie Pitts. They had a spelling bee in class and all the students had missed a word, and it was down to Dorothy Jean Oglesby and Betty. The next word was “business.” Dorothy Jean misspelled it and Betty spelled it correctly. Betty said that was her only memory of a claim to fame.
Betty’s eighth grade teacher was Mrs. Radford whose husband was an Army lieutenant serving in Europe. Mrs. Radford was the daughter of A. C. Casey, and she had a sister named Nancy.
Betty remembers collecting burned out light bulbs and toothpaste tubes with which they could get into the school auditorium for special events. These were for the war effort.
Betty also remembers one day when school was out for the day and students were waiting for the school bus, they saw a helicopter approaching. It was painted in the Army camouflage colors and was the first “Whirly Bird” she had ever seen. It landed on the school ground near the auditorium.
Out stepped Lyndon Johnson who was campaigning for the U.S. Senate. This was in 1942. The country was at war, but LBJ managed to campaign in an Army helicopter. Betty said she never knew how he managed that.
She said they had a beautiful music teacher who tried diligently to make musicians and/or singers out of all of them. The cafeteria was in the northwest corner of the building and you could eat for a dime. Betty especially liked the Tamale Pie.
She finished the eighth grade in May 1943 and that fall entered DHS, where she graduated in 1947. She only missed two days of school while she was in high school and that was for her grandfather’s funeral. She said she cried bitterly because she wanted a perfect attendance record.
Ted’s friend, Bob Noe also responded that he spent quite a few years at Central. He provided a picture of that rhythm band in 1936 that was previously mentioned. He said it was primarily the first grade and the teacher was Miss Lewis. Mrs. Johnson, whose daughter is on the first row, was parent representative.
Bob knows the names of a number of the students. He said about 20 were in the DHS class of 1947 and about 30 members of that class now are deceased, including Tommy Loy, John Hicks and Melvin Denney. Ann Sproule, a distinguished alumni, and Laura Payne Jacobs, the 1947 valedictorian, also were in that class. Laura’s pictures grace the cover of the Spring 2007 Traditions and the rhythm band also is included in the issue. - Donna Hunt