John Agan: This week, I'm running another of Momma's articles about school days. I was reminded of this article because my cousin, David Gladden Emerson, Jr., recently passed away and it caused me to think of him telling Momma this story. Here's her story on pranks at school.
Recently Cora Lou Robinson sent me a print of one of her paintings, a beautiful picture of Minden High School and its campus, showing the students gathered in small groups as we used to do. To us "Minden High School" is the building this generation calls "the old building."
I am so proud of that picture of "our" Minden High School, and I thought again of the happy years we spent in that building. There are many generations who have this memory since it was in use as the only high school building from 1924/25 until the present building was built and moved into the fall of 1954.
There are many memories of different incidents that occurred while I was there. I have shared some of those memories with you from time to time.
At the end of 2004, I had written almost 500 Cameos, (since I began in 1994) and that does not include articles for the Profile, and other special articles that I sent in to the paper.
Recently, as I visited with a lady, I mentioned a column I had written on some of the escapades of students at Minden High School in years gone by. These were not what was expected of good students, but it was not destructive. However, the perpetrators got into trouble when they were caught.
The lady asked that I send in the article again. I looked back through my index and found that it was printed the third week in March of 1996, and was the about the 110th column I had written. I have updated the information in a few places.
Gladden Emerson, Jr. and his wife, Imogene, were guests in my home and we were talking about by-gone days. He was a first cousin to my husband.
Gladden, Jr. reminded me of the many incidents involving the old bell that hung over the entrance to the grammar school building which was on the site of the present Minden High School Building.
The bell was an important part of our daily schedule. It was rung to signal the start and the close of our school day. It rang at 12:30 each day to indicate that pupils would be allowed to enter the school building to do some school work before the 12:45 bell rang for the beginning of the afternoon classes.
Also, on rainy days the bell was rung by 11:00 or 11:30 to let parents know that there would be a "Rainy Day Schedule" and there would be no Lunch hour, just an abbreviated schedule, allowing school to close around one that afternoon.
The bell had a loud,clear peal that carried its tones all across Minden, even to the outskirts.
Periodically, the clapper was removed by pranksters, to celebrate some occasion in school, or to protest some incident the students did not like.
There was great consternation when the clapper was gone because there was no way to know when school began or when classes were over. It was not just a group of bad boys that removed the clapper. There were many couples, boys and girls that participated in the grand theft.
On one occasion Gladden Jr. (we called him that but many of his friends called him "Shorty", but since he played football, and was six feet two inches tall, that didn't fit very well.) along with his steady girlfriend, and "Birdbrain" Bradford and his date and two more couples stole the clapper and carried it to Dorcheat. (One of the girls involved in this escapade does not want her name listed as people would be astounded that she would ever think of doing something like that. When I told her I was sending it in again she said she would mail copies to one of the man who is also not named.).
The next day it was announced that fingerprints had been obtained from the bell tower and that the group would be arrested. They did not know that this was just a scare tactic, and they were properly scared. I think they very quietly returned that clapper..
On another occasion, Gladden, Jr. and his cohorts decided that the clapper was not enough and they would get the bell, also. These boys did not realize just how heavy the bell was.
They devised a scheme to put two railroad tracks or long pieces of metal up against the building and two would lower it down to the remaining boys. It was so heavy that it required all of them to get up there. Gladden, Jr. remembers that he came down the makeshift runway with the bell to land in front of and almost on top of Joe Oliphant who was Gladden Jr.'s coach. Somebody had tipped the coach off. The bell was not removed at that time, but was put back in place.
We are talking about incidents that occurred almost half a century ago, and some were over six decades ago and Minden had its share of young people that got into their share of "scrapes" just as the present generation.
I remember coming to school one morning about 1938 to find that the limestone columns in the front of our school building had been painted bright red in protest of something about some boys not getting football sweaters. (I think that is what I was told.)
This was very serious because there was no way to get the red paint off since it had been absorbed into the limestone columns.
A firm that did sand-blasting had to be hired to sand down the front of the school. It was a big job and very expensive. If we knew who painted the school we did not say, and if I knew for certain even now I would not say. But that red paint was a mess to get off.
Later after I had been out of school for a number of years another incident occurred. Mrs. Robert Baker had her room on the second floor, on the southwest corner. She had window boxes bolted to her window frames and she had planted pretty spring flowers there.
Some of these same young people broke into the high school and tied ropes around the flower boxes, unscrewed the bolts and lowered the boxes to the ground in front of the first floor class room.
Come the next morning Mrs. Baker had no flowers, no flower boxes but just below the flowers bloomed with not a bit of dirt disturbed.
It was quite a mystery. I know now who did it but my lips are sealed
At one of the Reunions of the Class of 1939, our speaker was a classmate from Houston, a Civil Engineer. He finished Minden High School in the "Top Ten." He confessed to an escapade we never had known who carried out.
He and a group of boys stole a wagon from Webb Hardware, and with many ropes they tied it to the water town across from the Methodist church, and lifted it up to the base of the water tower.
The following morning as people came to work they were amazed by the sight of a big wagon suspended under the water tower. This was quite a feat to accomplish, and if it had fallen on them somebody would have been hurt, or killed.. We never knew how they got it down and it was not until about 1996 that we knew who did it.
I have written of other escapades that occurred during my high school days. Boys will be boys, and as the song says "What are you going to do with good old boys like these?" Tom Brokaw calls my generation "The Greatest Generation" and I guess it is, too.(In spite of all these tales.)
Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.