Wednesday, April 27, 2005

SEARCY ’46-’56 – Part 10

Chapter Five

Tom Pry

School Daze – Searcy

By Christmas of 1946, the charm and novelty of walking 5+ miles a day to and from school had just about worn thin. Fortunately, there was an alternative available: Searcy. I don’t know how the news reached our ears, but it turned out that kids out our way could go to either their local school, or the big one, in town.

There was even a bus to get us there.

That was the good news. The bad news was I still had to walk up to Highway 36. Still, 1.3 miles beat 2.6 miles any day, even if it was the worst part of the trip.

I cannot remember what time that bus got there. I DO remember that, during the winter, it was still dark out. Walk, scrape boots, walk some more.

You might find it hard to believe, as you watch the myriads of yellow rolling stock running through town but, in 1946/47, Searcy Schools had only what I’ve always thought of as a “bus and a half.” There was a small bus body on about a one-ton chassis, and a regular bus.

The regular bus came in from the direction of Joy Mountain, picking us up along the way. When it got into town, it went by the school (the whole complex was located at the site of Ahlf School) and we had an option: we could either get off and kill the next 45 minutes or so on our own, or we could stay on the bus while it traveled its second route, which was out what’s now South Main Street, going as far as the present Wal-Mart Distribution Center. I remember it was somewhere around the airport that the bus turned around, ‘cause I could see the runway lights in the dark.

I have no idea what the half-a-bus was doing; I do know that, in 1952, that vehicle was still in use, over at what we thought of as “the colored school” (about which I’ll have quite a bit to say later).

If it was cold and/or crummy, we’d stay on the bus. As spring approached, and the weather started turning warmish, we’d get off and explore. Searcy was approaching full throttle by that time in the morning, especially the donut shop and, if I had a few cents spending money, one of those donuts, hot out of the grease and then dipped in the hot, liquid sugar, was about as good as a treat could get, and a great way to start the day.


There was a very good lunchroom in the school complex, serving delicious hot food at a very reasonable price, like a dime or a quarter, so the fried egg sandwiches and the butter and molasses sandwiches became history. Instead, cornbread (utterly delicious and hot out of the oven), beans, meat: a MEAL, hot and GOOD. These cooks were not professional dieticians, they were our mothers, and they cooked for us at school as they did for us at home.

I don’t recall ever leaving that cafeteria hungry or otherwise dissatisfied with my meal.

The old Searcy Grammar School Posted by Hello

Memories of that half-a-year are sparse. I do remember a shy kid named Joel who always, by his choice, sat in the back of the room. When we sang “School Days, School Days” and got to the line, “You wrote on my slate, I love you ..” we made sure the name used was Joel, instead of “Joe,” and most of us turned to see how he was taking it. Invariably, he was ducking his head, trying to hide his red face.

Joel must have hated that damn song and, wherever you are, Joel, I apologize, both for taking part in the group teasing, and for the all-around cruelty of kids everywhere.

Most of all, I remember our teacher, Edna Ferris (it could’ve been spelled with an A, as in Farris, but I don’t think so). A very sweet lady, a good teacher, and she’d discovered the universal panacea: Coca-Cola®.

No kidding, Mrs. Ferris had come to the conclusion that a Coke could cure anything. Tummy ache? Headache? Nosebleed? Mrs. Ferris would pluck a nickel from her seemingly-endless supply of them, drop it in the Coke machine that sat right outside the building, and give it to the kid. It never failed to take care of the problem.

In fact, some of my peers were playing bullfighter one day. One of the bulls ran full tilt through someone’s coat/cape only to discover that, immediately behind it, was the school wall. Rang the bull’s chime REALLY good.

Somehow, Mrs. Ferris’ obligatory Coke took care of any incipient skull fracture, and life went back to normal.

As kids, we were well-served by our teachers and our schools in general.

We were damn lucky.

(Series originally published late 2003/early 2004 on the old site).


Post a Comment

<< Home