Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Observations From 'The Pioneer'

The Pioneer” Union County High School newspaper has held my attention for three columns now. Before I leave its fascinating pages, I will share some more thoughts about that important era in school life.

What did the Class of 1936 do for social activities? According to Bennie Lee Helton, editor, and valedictorian, her column describes some of the events that were outstanding. She notes that “social affairs have not been numerous,” but those enjoyed have been “oases in the desert of our daily routine.”

Twenty-two were present for the Senior Party held January 5, 1936 in the Candler-Ledford Hall (a name carrying over from the days when the high school was the Blairsville Collegiate Institute, and probably in what was known as the “dormitory” building). They enjoyed games and refreshments and an “evening stamped indelibly on our memories.” On April 18, every senior, 27 in number, went to Blowing Springs for the senior trip. [Where was Blowing Springs? How far did they have to travel and what conveyances were used? A bus? No word is given on transportation.] “It was a cold day,” Bennie Lee writes, “but it did not keep us from enjoying the day.” They had a “delicious picnic lunch” and made “many pictures.”

On April 23 “our class was entertained by the Class of 1937 in the annual Junior-Senior Prom.” The event was held in the Candler-Ledford Hall. Prom cards provided sign-ups for seven partners. These were not “dances” as we know them today at junior-senior proms, but promenades about the campus. Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson led out in the first prom, and for the next hour and a half the campus was full of happy couples enjoying their walks. Afterwards came punch, skits for entertainment of which “Ted Weaver and his hill-Billy orchestra” without instruments won first prize. To cap off a delightful prom night, a bounteous banquet was served. Bennie Lee ended her report on “Social Activities” by writing: “There was a feeling of sadness in the heart of each of us as we left, realizing that in just a few weeks our life at UCHS would be a memory and no longer a reality.”

A previous column referred to the Senior Class picture and names of the members of the Class of 1936. Pictures of the junior (Class of 1937), sophomore (Class of 1938), and freshman (Class of 1939) were included in “The Pioneer.”

Mrs. W.C. Hughes was junior class sponsor for these students: Hazel Bruce, Virginia Jones, Ruth Jackson, Mildred Sullivan, Kathleen Henson, Mary Addington, Patricia Waldroup, Helen Cearley, Kathleen Wakefield, Billy Deaver, Betty Baskin, Wilonell Collins, Louise Dyer, Hazel Smith, Irene Hunter, Leon Colwell, Wayne Petty, Ira Kelley, Mary McCravey, Christine Ledford, R. M. Ash, Charles Conley, R. E. Whitmore, Robert Martin, Harold Killian, James Collins, Hubert Rich, Sylvan Plott, Charles Meeks, Clifford Shuler and Harlan Duncan. Through my sister, Louise Dyer, a member of that class, I was able to meet many of the Class of 1937 and see them at their 50th class reunion in 1987. It was interesting to note that in the “School’s Who’s Who” list, Harlan Duncan who became the fearless sheriff of Union County received the honors of “Noisest Boy” and “Biggest Pest Boy.” Maybe within those not-too-complimentary titles in 1936 were the makings of a fine sheriff who married his classmate, Ruth Jackson, who, herself, became a very fine teacher.

Mrs. Frank (Gertrude) Shuler was sponsor for the Sophomore Class. Listed were Ford Tanner, Eloise Killian, Reba Tanner, Lucille Jarrett, Latha Carpenter, Corrine Burnett, Bonnie Thompson, Maxine Wakefield, Cora Lou Martin, Edna Souther, Edna Smith, Pearl Morgan, Ruby Jones, Edward Swain, Edward Young, Joe Akins, Bruce Hood and Clyde Collins. I expected to see my brother, Eugene Dyer, pictured and named with this class. Maybe he was absent on the day for picture-taking.

The Freshman Class was by far the largest, and no faculty sponsor was listed. Members pictured included Dartha Morgan, Josephine Miller, Ellen Jackson, Cora Bowling, Sarah Penland, Anna Joe Cook, Maggie Roberts, Blanche Hunter, Audrey Akins, Sara Nell Conley, Lillian Moss, Madeline Shuler, Lorraine Ash, Julia Jackson, Eugene Truelove, Mrs. Jim Parker (Could she have been the class sponsor? She was not pictured with the faculty), Lillian Tarpley, Nell Nicholson, Anna Belle Brackett, Ruby Morgan, Ruth Lance, Robert Stephens, Dewey Raper, Rufus Bullock, Luther Brown, Edward Jones, Nell Collins, A. J. Ledford, Ervin Dyer, Ford Burns, Garnett Davenport, Kelley McGlamery, John Berry, Randall Mason, Cecil Hamby and Eugene Colwell.

I sent a copy of the 1936 “The Pioneer” to the Union County Historical Society Museum where those interested may go to read it. I also sent a copy to Mrs. Dora Hunter Allison Spiva, sponsor of the Class of 1936 and of “The Pioneer.” As is typical of this unusual teacher, now a centenarian, she thanked me profusely and wrote, “I’m so fortunate the Lord called me to be a teacher. I was fortunate to have a part of my life spent with so many lovely, smart, good students. I have so many good memories of my teaching days with lovely kids.”

I also sent a copy to Barbara Ruth Nicholson Collins Sampson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. James M. Nicholson (he was principal [called superintendent] and English teacher and his wife was Home Economics teacher). Barbara had never before seen a copy of “The Pioneer” and was extremely grateful to receive it. She filled me in with many details of persons in the senior class and what became of them.

In the faculty picture were six teachers: Mrs. Allison (mathematics), Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson (English and Home Economics), Mrs. Frank Shuler (Biology and Latin), Mrs. W. C. Hughes (History), and Mr. Clarlence Shuler (Typewriting). Of the six, five were still teaching at Union County High some of the time when I was a student there from 1943-1947. Typing was not offered during my years there, and Mr. Clarence Shuler had gone on to other pursuits. I count it a great honor to have studied under the other five, although their areas of instruction had changed and several other faculty members had been added by the 1940s.

To close out this series from “The Pioneer,” I will end with a portion of Mrs. Frank (Gertrude) Shuler’s message to the Class of 1936. She reminded them that all of life would not be “ease and pleasure, and you’d be no good if it were.” On finding their life work, she advised, “Even though all places of service seem to be overcrowded, remember this: there’s always room at the top, but it isn’t a ‘Rest Room.’ ”

Mrs. Shuler ended her message by quoting from poet Edgar A. Guest’s “My Creed.” This seems to be the best way to end this series from a delightful look back at 1936:

To live as gently as I can,
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill;
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best and let that stand*
And then should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place where-in
I stoop unforeseen to shame and sin.
To be the same when I’m alone
As when my every deed is known.
To live undoubted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham,
Being just what men think I am.
To leave some simple work behind;
To keep my having lived in mind.
If enmity I ought to show,
To be an honest, generous foe.
To play my little part nor whine,
That great honors are not mine.”
[*The next line seems to have been omitted here to keep rhyming sequence in order in the two-line pattern of the verse. I could not readily find a copy of Guest’s poem to check for the missing line. –EDJ]

c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 28, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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