DALLAS VILLAGE MEMORIES BY: Hattie Marie Webb

Hattie Marie WebbMy family lived on Lee High Drive, right at the top, before the street dips down heading around to where Lee High School is now located. My mother still lives in the small house there. There were 2 houses and a tiny, ˝ block long street that separated our house from the back entrance to Rison - we not only walked to school every day (through waist high snow, rain, heat of summer, beast laden jungle - you know all those old tales about how hard it was "back in the olden days" - and also how much snow fell in Huntsville), we also walked home every single day to eat lunch!

I attended from 5th grade and graduated from Rison Jr. High School in 1956 and from Huntsville High School in 1959. My brother, James (Jimmy) Day Webb attended from 3rd grade and graduated Rison in 1958 and Huntsville High in 1961. My sister, Laura Edwina Webb Collyer, who is 10 years younger than me, attended Rison and graduated from Lee.

It had always been the STANDARD for all youngsters in that area to attend Butler, but the City was rezoned during the summer of 1956 and we were all dealt the devastating blow that we would be shuttled to Huntsville High from then on. The City was rezoned, once again, with the construction of Lee High School.

SOME of my Rison classmates DID manage to go to Butler - some parents even moved "across the tracks" in order to insure their children would not have to suffer the humility of attending school with all those snot-nosed, uppity CITY folk’s kids. Some parents scraped together enough money to send their children off to private, church schools - a terrible strain in that era.

Some students simply "quit" school when they reached the "legal age" of 16. For one reason, or another, the very small class became fractured and only an extremely few of us who attended Huntsville High together have managed to at least know where each other are.

One who DID manage to go to Butler - Barbara Chisholm - was National Cherry Pie Queen years after Mrs. Donald Patrick was, but no one seems to know about it. I remember the parade and other awards and celebrations for Mrs. Patrick, but I don't remember any such for Barbara. She married someone from Decatur, had a child that died in infancy and died, herself, not too long after her child. She was very young - 19, 20 (?).

Diane Allen (sister of Donald Allen) got married (16, 17 (?)) but worked extremely diligently, educated herself and later owned Uwaholi Corporation, a very successful engineering firm, and from whose success she earned many acknowledgements and awards from local AND national government entities. She worked with me on trying to have the old Dallas Mill converted to a workable site to house the Arts groups, office spaces, maybe even some loft apartments and boutique shops - our efforts failed, of course and the Mill burned to the ground a short while later. She was also extremely instrumental in directing attention to Native American needs, talents and acknowledgements. Diane committed suicide in 2001.

Buddy (William) Burkett (brother of Brenda Burkett Elders) married my high school friend - Jo Anna Gowan. She has a knack for keeping up with folks and Jo Anna is the reunion secretary for the 1959 HHS reunion class and she and Buddy might be able to point the Committee to many other students such as:

Eberhard Ball - whose family lived directly across the street from us, was - the last contact I had - the County Attorney for Baldwin County (Bay Minette, Alabama). His sister, Brigetta is married to John Winch - one of the designers of NASA's successful Moon Rover project. His brother, Dr. Karlheinz, lives someplace in the Chicago area.

Dr. Charles M. Chambers has earned several doctorates and is, at present, president of Lawrence Technical University in Southfield, Michigan and maintains a home in Virginia. He has a daughter named Christina - and she is a true beauty!. She is an actress and was most recently seen as one of the "Angels" in last year's Charlie's Angels TV movie.

Both Sam Chisam and Donald Smith live in Georgia.

I worked in the office while I was a student at Rison and had the privilege (?) of riding to town every day in Mr. Fain's cigar smoke filled car to do banking and shopping for the school.

I helped Mr. Jimmy Blackburn write hall passes for students who were late to school. I don't remember what subject Mr. Blackburn taught, but I took piano lessons from him after school.

Corrine Harris Shovelton (Mrs. Graham) taught health. Her brother, Sam Harris, was a very successful farmer and her mother, Mrs. Harris, was my first grade teacher at Pulaski Pike School.

Willadene Lee Schultz (Mrs. Siefried) was the only child of the beloved Mrs. Lee who taught at Rison forever and who made the absolutely most wonderful Cocoanut pies for our church women's study group when we met at her house.

Mrs. Hanvey - who was a great reader of books to her students - went to HHS to teach the same year my brother enrolled there.

Mrs. Graves - our 9th grade sponsor- died just before we graduated.

Mrs. Taylor - whose son, Jimmy, was a photographer for The Huntsville Times for decades also had a daughter named Kitty. Those three were EXACT clones of each other. You could not tell one from the other.

Nancilee Mitchell Nielsen (Mrs. Dexter) was one of the founders of Huntsville Little Theatre and suffered through our crude attempts to be thespians. She, Miss Harris and Mr. Blackburn were all great friends. I believe she continues to live in the Maryland/D.C. area, is a most successful director and a published playwright. Little Theatre continues to extend The Nielsen Award to participants of the Theatre arts for outstanding contributions.

Mrs. Hazel Ward, who was born with a birth defect of one of her arms, let NOTHING hold her back - she was a beautiful, kind, excellent teacher.

I also remembered that Robert George Staggs lives in Florida and has a high school age son who is a rodeo rider. He is another student that Jo Anna can contact.

Several terribly funny stories about Miss Elizabeth Monroe also come to mind:

If someone sneezed in her classroom, she immediately made the boys raise all the windows - NO MATTER WHAT THE WEATHER - so that all the "Geuremes" could get out. I can't even begin to spell words the way she pronounced them!!!

If you were entering the school at the same time that she was entering and you did not salute the flag, she gave you a zero for the day - no if, ands, or buts!!!

She had, what she thought, was a foolproof method of keeping records of students’ grades in a little book. The first mistake was that she recorded them all in pencil - so she could change them at will. The second mistake was that a grade of 100 was recorded as a simple "dot". The third mistake was that she left that book in her desk all the time. WELL, as soon as those boys finally put all those facts together, you never saw so many dumb students who wound up with straight A's during their years of being in her classes - even if they got straight F's in their OTHER classes.

That is about all I know and my brain is very tired. I do know that Houston Goodson's son - Dr. Bill, a wonderful, talented man - lives next door to one of my daughters.

When one sits down and lets the memories gather round, it is astonishing what comes forth - and how much.