Compiled October 2003
All the DHS teachers impacted our lives, but these were outstanding for me:
Mrs. Hill, Mr. Woodard, Mrs. Willis, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Kimble, Mrs. Miller, and Mr. Cline. Mrs. Trout wasn’t a teacher, but she was so special.
Donna Johnson Merrell
Ruth West, English. I loved English and she was so good at teaching it.
Miss Walker, Latin. She made Latin so interesting.
Mr. Wilds, History. I shall never forget his teaching the Civil War and A Tale of Two Cities.
Katherine Ray Heaton
The two teachers who stick out the most in my mind are Mr. Malone and Miss Walker. He had the patience of Job with me, even though he knew that I would never get anything right. And Miss Walker knew that I would never learn more than “si” in Spanish! I know that they both loved us and enjoyed teaching.
Ann Morgan Henderson
I remember Miss Bledsoe for she let me sleep through fourth period one time when our basketball bus broke down the night before, causing us to get to bed around 4am – and we had to be at school at 8:30am.
Oh my, do I remember [Mr. Malone’s] paddle. He would make me grab my ankles at the door and see how far he could knock me out in the hall. You bet it didn't hurt me and it probably did me some good. What really hurt was when he would come by and open your drawer with his master key and find some gum wrapper in your drawer. He gave you a “whack” while sitting on the stool, and sometimes you had a piece of skin hanging over the edge of the stool. Man, that stung .....
But what good memories I have of him and the love for that man. It was all in fun, but it would never fly today. I think today kids are missing out on the real meaning of discipline!
I remember David Markham, Margaret Manning Price, Lyn Massey, myself, and possibly David Nelson had Malone for homeroom our senior year. Boy, could he surprise you with that paddle if you were leaning over someone’s desk yakking. Coach Charlie Jackson was there during that time and could wield a mean paddle, too.
Miss Bledsoe was big on dates. “1588 Spanish Armada” was a favorite topic with her. She told of a story of while walking down Main Street one day, someone behind her said, “1588 Spanish Armada.” She got a kick out of that – making such an impression on a student. She enjoyed telling this story.
I took English from Miss West. We walked in class one day and she had written “Watery Soup” on the blackboard. She told us to write an essay on that subject. This student had a tough time with that one.
Our senior year, the basketball team had homeroom together during the season. When the season was over, all team members were supposed to go back to our originally assigned homerooms. Well, Chuck LaFoy, Chick Gray, me, and possibly another player decided we would “run the halls” for a while before we went back to our regular homeroom. A few weeks later, the coach walked into the boys’ restroom and caught us guys together. Coach Bill Long put two and two together and had us all come down to the gym dressing room that afternoon. He said, “Drop your pants and bend over.” Wow, did it hurt!
I remember Mr. M. M. Marshall (Geometry) saying, “Yours not to ask the reason why, yours but to do or die.”
“When better cars are built, Buick will build them.” “Ticonderoga pencils are the only pencils to use.”
Judy Hoover Gohlke
If I had to single out the most influential person on my life it would have to be Marie Trout. Without a doubt she had more insight into human behavior than any behavioral expert who ever hung out a shingle. Mrs. Trout was a wonderful mentor and role model for me, a living example of what it means to live for others. Even though she and Mr. Trout were childless, she mothered hundreds of students at DHS. What an honor it was to be selected by her to work in the office.
On a very personal note, Mrs. Trout took an interest in me, recognizing that my family had very little means, and in her kind way she would find chores at her house on the weekend for me to do to help with expenses. When you worked for her she always invited me to lunch with her and Mr. Trout. This was always special because Saturday was her day to bake bread, so lunch was always served with bread fresh from the oven and many times with vegetables from the garden.
During my first political campaign I received a note from Mrs. Trout in which she said that she was doing what she could to help with the election. She had chosen to enclose a campaign card and a note with each of her monthly bills, asking whoever opened it to vote for me. I was impressed with her creativity and appreciative of her loyalty and friendship.
Mrs. Trout was a special person to many people. A deeply religious person, she taught a Sunday School class for almost a half-century and was one of those who practiced her religious beliefs in her daily life, seeing to the needs of her family and others, doing good for those who were in need, and supporting the programs of her church. She was also highly respected by her co-workers at DHS, to the extent that she was a part of their professional associations and considered a peer and not a support person.
Among my blessings are the numerous faculty and staff at DHS who took a personal interest in our growth and development and helped to guide us down the road that leads to success and happiness. As I reflect on our high school years, it was the best of times. We were fortunate to have some of the most experienced and dedicated teachers, many who were nearing the close of their careers and who had exceptional talents to share with us. For them I remain grateful, more especially for Mrs. Trout.
Larry Thomas: Anyone who was in the band would agree that he was a great, but stern, bandsman who knew how to get us in place for 7 a.m. (or earlier) rehearsals as well as get us to come together as a group of musicians for a brand-new marching program each and every Friday night. In those days (don’t I sound OLD???), bands truly marched in a military fashion. I still find myself , when I’m walking, trying to get 8 steps per 5-yard distance – just a holdover from having to get those 8 steps every 5-yards on the football field. Band members will know what I’m talking about. And heaven help you if you didn’t get it right. He had a device he had rigged up that he could wear from a shoulder strap and it amounted to a mini-broadcasting system. During rehearsals, he’d mount the top bleachers at Munson Stadium and have a loud go at anyone who wasn’t doing their part of the job to suit him. I still find myself comparing other band directors to him and they just never seem to measure up to Larry Thomas. Wonder what he’d think of Drum Corps International and that style of marching?
Maggie Sommerville: A truly fine lady. She and her sister, Romie, who taught a first grade class at Central Ward, were both born educators. I had Miss Maggie Sommerville for journalism and have had more than one newsworthy article slashed and burned by her quick pencil and eagle-eye. But she always got you to do what you didn’t think could be done: be concise and factual and have a headline count that stayed within the allowed space. I do believe I saw her smile from time to time.
Ed Wilds: I think every one of us remembers “A Tale of Two Cities” and sitting in a semi-circle and taking turns reading aloud those best of times/worst of times passages. His approach to teaching this classic was to put us right into the action, not just to mouth the words. It changed my way of reading, I think. I still “skim” books but I seem to get more and remember more of what I read.
Mrs. Johnson: She helped me become a fast and accurate typist. When I think of the number of keystrokes I’ve made since the time I spent in her class! I also remember all those timed drills she led us through. She must have known what she was doing because she made typists out of most of us.
Omar Cline: Do you still think in terms of blue questions and red answers? What a historian. And don’t I wish I could have another history course with him teaching it? Plus, he was a genuinely nice man.
Mildred Walker: She helped Latin II come alive for me, both with her stories and her musings. Not that I’m a Latin scholar by any means, but I can at least take an English word and know its general meaning based on the Latin from her classes. I particularly remember her frustration when trying to get Paul Harris to keep his desk inside the room and not out in the hall – he kept an eye on the continual comings and goings and often times would just up and leave the class – drove her crazy. Not sure she ever did corral him.
Margaret Manning Price
He wouldn’t let us call him MR. Malone. If you did you probably got a lick. You had to call him “Malone” or “Old Man”. What a great teacher! I guess he did have an influence on my life. We used to play “freeze” at the end of class period. Also, there was a little blueprint room where we would try to run past him fast enough to escape getting hit. He had the quickest wrist in the west. He could hit me twice before I could get past him, and they weren't just love taps. He could raise a welt on your fanny that would last a week!
Coach Charlie Jackson gave us licks, then he would immediately reach out and shake our hands.
I played football for Les Cranfil my freshman year I think. I remember that he would give licks with a rope. That would get your attention. He called it “branding.” He had three degrees of brands, the worst being three “C’s” where he would loop the rope three times. You wound up having a C inside a C inside a C branded on your backside. I got two C's one time. I may still have them.
I wonder why all I remember about these guys is the way they gave licks? Maybe that's what it took to get my attention.
Sometime during the year we were juniors, 1956-57, the DHS student body staged a walk out one school day after an edict by Principal Jack Ballard. Keep in mind that notorious student rioting and taking over of school buildings did not begin until the early 1960s when students began to rebel against the “establishment.” Principal Ballard was definitely the establishment, we just didn’t know the term. We were before our time!
Many DHS students I’ve talked to don’t remember the incident at all, while some can relate it like it was yesterday. Some say it was because Cactus Jack set up rules to prevent students leaving classrooms to wander the halls. Other say it was because of a play held in assembly in the gym, which included a whiskey bottle used as a prop. Ballard cancelled all future assemblies, our only formal gatherings and relief during the school day.
Whatever the reason, students began to file out of the school, gathering out on the lawn, in the parking lot, and across the street at the hamburger joint there. The ones remaining in the school ran to the windows to gape at their fellow students outside. It was a shock to all, both inside and out. Whoever heard of such a thing?
How did it end? I can’t remember. We probably got a stern talking to in assembly by Cactus Jack. In fact, I can see him in my mind’s eye, standing at the microphone on the gym floor doing just that.
Teachers I remember well:
O. W. Cline - Such a southern gentlemen. He taught history of the civil war to me and Judy Hoover in summer school.
Mrs. Johnson - If I couldn’t type, where would I be?
Edwardine McCoy - English and speech, “Now say GEHT, not GIT.”
Ruth West - Writing, writing, and more writing
Maggie Sommerville - The newspaper business and more writing
Charles Andrews - He made history come alive.
Jake Blankenship - He made chemistry bearable and even interesting.
Elayne Tignor Vick
“Get out a pencil and piece of paper.” When Miss West said that in her English class, you knew it was going to be a long class. She would write the strangest set of words on the board and call that a topic. The class was then supposed to write a one-page essay about that subject. You usually did not know what the title meant, much less how you would fill a page about the topic.
I normally wrote using very small print. For those essays, I used large print. That was the only way I could fill a page. I found it difficult to create sentences concerning a topic about which I knew nothing, but I eventually learned. It is a way great way to practice for politics.
I liked math. You read the problem, applied a formula, and solved the equation. It was straightforward. You did it the same way every time. You did not have to make up things to put on the paper, although some people in class did seem to take that approach to math.
Writing those one-page essays was probably the most difficult thing for me in high school. When I went to college, I quietly thanked Miss West almost every week when I took English. We had to write often. Many people there had never written a word about something they knew about, much less about a topic derived from some random set of words that were thrown together as if by an exploding dictionary.
Having had Miss West for high school English was a great advantage for college. I thought of her often when the college teacher would ask for an essay. Even now when I write something, I think of her saying, “Get out a pencil and piece of paper.”
C J Ransom
Margaret Clark - She was always there for you. She would help you when you were in need. Of course, find the job that was best suited for you.
Miss West - When we were to memorize poetry, and we got to a point where we forgot, she would mouth a word and we would take it from there. Then she says, you did good.
Lou McBee - What a wonderful coach. She could be lean and mean, or she could be all smiles and cheering you on.
Mrs. Trout - I know she was not a teacher. How could we forget her? What a wonderful person to read our parents’ (or sometimes our) excuses. She just smiled and told us she hoped we felt better.
Opal Ulch Bradshaw
Mrs. Stella Byers and Mr. Joe Dickson - Algebra and Geometry were not subjects I enjoyed. I approached all math classes with dread and a firm belief that I was at risk of failure. Ms. Byers and Mr. Dickson provided instruction in a manner that ensured I could and did learn. They were both encouragers who consistently communicated their confidence that I could be successful. As a result, I was.
Frances Willis - I never had a class from Dr. Willis but I have very vivid memories of her because of her clothes. She was always beautifully dressed and groomed. She helped form my attitude about purchasing high quality clothes. Until Dr. Willis I did not associate teaching with fashion.
Alma Gaddy - While I was not enrolled in cosmetology courses, I do remember the classes held on our campus. Ms. Gaddy was always so friendly to everyone she met in the hallway. I cannot recall ever hearing any student saying anything negative about her.
Thelma Collier - Ms. Collier was so helpful when we were assigned to write those history papers. She helped me find copies of WWII magazines and other reference material when I was writing a senior history paper on Kamikaze pilots (why would anyone select that topic) for Miss Bledsoe. She was so kind and would send notes to Miss Bledsoe’s class to let me know she had some additional material for me to review.
Teachers in general - At the time we were in high school, the teachers who sponsored all of those clubs put in considerable time with these endeavors. They were not paid additional stipends for this duty (this is not the case now and has not been for many years). I recall our Y-teen sponsors (Miss West, Mrs. Willis, Mrs. Johnson, Miss Bledsoe and who knows who else) going to Wood Lake, placing and lighting candles in canoes/row boats, floating them in the lake hooked together with ropes for some evening event. I do hope someone else has this memory. This was quite an undertaking. It is only in retrospect that I have an appreciation for the effort and time our teachers spent in our behalf.
Linda Leverette West
Miss Johnson: I had her for typing and I believe she was probably the nicest teacher in our school. It’s hard to believe I could type 98 words a minute on one of those old manual typewriters! She was a good teacher and very kind and sweet. Barbara, my sister, and I would dress in costume every year on Halloween and go to her house trick or treating. We would try our best to fool her, but she usually could guess who we were. It was a lot of fun and she had a great sense of humor.
Mr. Marshall: He taught me first year algebra. He was also the men’s tennis coach. He was an excellent teacher, but very eccentric. I had him for first period, and the first thing he would do every morning would be to ask if we had eaten bacon for breakfast. Then he would lecture the class for 5 or 10 minutes on the hazards of eating bacon. I believe he was a vegetarian, although I doubt if I even knew then what a vegetarian was! I guess he was definitely ahead of his time. Mr. Marshall was a hoot and you never knew what diverse subject he was going to bring up in class. He was a hard teacher but a very interesting and different teacher.
Mr. Malone: Ann talked me into taking mechanical drawing. I think it had something to do with the fact that the classes were full of only boys! She and I were the first girls to take mechanical drawing. Malone (as he was called) was another “different” teacher. Out of the blue, he would say, “FREEZE!” And that was what you had to do, no matter what you were doing. He had a thick paddle with holes drilled into it, and if you moved, you would get licks. He used the paddle quite frequently on the boys. Sometimes the freeze period would only last a few minutes; sometimes it would last nearly the entire class. But he was a very knowledgeable teacher, and I really liked mechanical drawing. I would up taking all three years of the classes.
Mrs. Trout: This would not be complete without mentioning Mrs. Trout. What a psychologist she was! I never knew an adult that could handle kids like she could. She really had a knack for it, and you could never put anything over on her. I believe she truly cared about every student.
Francis (White) Reeder
From my first day of school in Denison’s Central Ward elementary school, I had the pleasure of being in Mrs. Eunice Cook’s seventh grade class. She was the most pleasant and caring person, making me feel welcome in her class from the first day I walked in. I moved to Denison the winter of 1952, and school had been in session for about three months by then. I felt like an interloper among the other students. Mrs. Cook knew that I felt out of place and gave me the confidence I needed to bond with the other students.
She was so interesting, imparting her recollections of annual trips she made to Mexico. Her adventures brought such wonderful pictures to mind and fostered my wish to travel too.
I remember the day that she described how she had decorated her bedroom. As I recall, her husband worked nights and slept in the daytime. To help him sleep comfortably, she had painted her walls black and covered her windows with black drapes trimmed in fuchsia that matched the bedspread. Her closet, when opened, was painted fuchsia with black shoeboxes lines up on the floor. I loved the thought and could just picture the whole room. She was very special and lovely cared for her class. I really hated to leave her classroom at year’s end.
In my freshman year of high school, I met Mrs. Pennington, my algebra teacher. She was a diminutive white-headed lady with a world of patience. She had a pleasant way of teaching and made you think your way through her classes. She encouraged you to persevere, striving in spite of the difficulties of the course.
I recall walking with her from school to her home, where we parted and I continued on to my home. I enjoyed our little conversations on those walks and missed them when I moved on into the “new” high school, which was no longer within walking distance of my house.
Who could forget Mr. Bill Blankenship? He was my history teacher. He made you work hard and sometimes made you feel that he would take drastic measures if you tried to get lazy. He used a bit of humor with all of his threats, which made you feel that he really must have been a bit of an imp himself when he was a student. That’s why I think he could readily relate with the smart alecks of the class, and there were many of them. He did make the classroom fun. However, girls were at the mercy of his teasing. He dearly seemed to enjoy embarrassing the girls of the class.
I remember Mr. Thomas, the band instructor. He was a fine person who loved music and fostered the same in his students. He was a good teacher, remembered fondly. How proud I was when I saw, about five years later after I had married, the Denison High School band marching in the Cotton Carnival Parade in Memphis, Tennessee in 1961. They sounded great and looked so proud marching in perfect cadence. I was blow away. Just think, a little Texas town school band in the big city showing their true grit. It was marvelous.
These are some of my many memories from Denison, Texas. I moved in 1955 to England, when my father, who was in the military, was transferred overseas.
Jacqueline (Woodard) White