Submitted February 13, 2005

Here are a few more lines which I hope will bring back memories to more people than just myself: For Mona Gay - Even though I did not witness the event, do you remember when my cousin, Jerry Byrom, and his good buddy, John Earl, ran some girls into a corner and either broke or cut their fingernails off? After that little stunt, a lot of girls took frantic care of their nails in hopes the 2 cutest boys in the entire WORLD would do the same thing to THEM!

What a glorious time to move from a far away, rural school to a city school when I finished 4th grade. Still very young (in those days) but growing and changing with every passing day, one got to experience fun events and skip school classes for good reasons. One of those good reasons was that every 5th grader was treated to FREE swimming lessons. Once a week, for at least 6 weeks, we were all loaded into a big bus and driven downtown to the YMCA. I understand that Buck Watson now owns the old Y building, uses it as his firm's law offices - but retained the swimming pool down in its basement. What a good memory! Just as then, FREE is STILL a good thing.

Even though it, too, was free, a BAD memory for a lot of students involved the news, spreading like wild fire in a dry forest, that the "shot ladies" were coming in the front door. I don't believe anyone was ever notified in advance of "shot day" because they wanted to catch as many students as possible all on the same day and not have to come back to the same school a dozen times in a row. If there had been advance notice, there probably would not have been more than 10 students in the entire school the day they arrived.

The health department would send nurses on regular routes, various times of year, to administer "shots" to ALL students for various prevention measures. My brother always passed out immediately when the news started spreading - he did not even have to get the shot to faint, he just went ahead and fainted and got that part over with. We lined up, one classroom at a time, and marched into the auditorium - whether we wanted to or not. Just to show how brave they were afterwards, and that the shots "did not hurt one bit - no sir!" all the boys took turns, for the remainder of the day, punching each other in the arm at the exact spot where the shot was given. That always resulted in numerous days of having to walk around holding the arm in a frozen position to keep them from screaming out in pain.

Girls, down through the ages, have always seemed to be gracious and mindful (until we have reached the "now" era, of course) and did not cause much trouble, that I can remember. Boys, on the other hand, always push the envelope, for some reason, until it gets a hole in it. During the mid-50's, teachers had the clarity of mind to decide when the line had been crossed and were not hesitant in passing out discipline to those who needed it. For gross infractions of standard rules, a visit to the nearest coat room, or to Mr. Fain's office, to have a meeting with small wooden equalizers, tamed a student in only a minute's time.

Also, there were 2 extremely large, old Oak trees, planted about 1/2 block apart (about where the fire station now stands) which had a well worn circle around them known as the "Bull Ring". Rowdy students would accumulate demerits on their record for which they had 2 remedies. They could take a failing grade on their report cards or they could march around the trees, with a broom on their shoulder - military style - for a specified time limit in order to erase the demerits. It was very plain to the eye which method was preferred. Students did not care too much to present a report with failing grades to parents - their punishment would be much more severe than walking that bull ring.

Attending school until the age of 16 was absolutely mandatory and there really were not a lot of students who skipped school. There were some, however, and when they DID skip, Mrs. Lawler, the county truant officer would surely knock on the front door, and a lot of tall tale telling could be heard - and heard about! That student knew to pull down his pants and turn around because daddy knew how to set things right.

Miss Buell DavisI noticed a photo of Miss Buel Davis on the faculty page. When I went to Pulaski Pike school, Miss Davis was a "circuit riding" piano teacher who went around to student's houses to give them lessons. My parents scraped and saved for a very long period time to come up with $25.00 to buy me a piano in a second hand store so that I could take lessons. I think it probably took them 4 - 5 years until the final payment was finally made. Miss Davis would stand at the keyboard, next to me, during lesson time and every time a wrong note was sounded, she would hit my knuckles with a pencil that, I swear, was as big as a telephone pole, I did not learn to play the piano very well - I was deathly afraid of Miss Davis and her pencil. Even though I took lessons, after school in the Rison auditorium, from Mr. Blackburn, I still did not accomplish great piano skills - but I still have that piano sitting in my library!!!!

Rison did not have a lunchroom until I was in the 8th or 9th grade. Students, who lived within minutes walking distance, went home for lunch - others brought their lunch in a bag or ate when they went home after school. At one point in time, students could order, in advance, hot dogs, which were delivered to the school 1 day per week. I don't remember where the sandwiches came from, but I do remember they cost 10 cents and not many students would have access to free dimes on a steady basis.

A boy might mow a lawn, every now and then, and a girl might get to baby sit once in a blue moon, but that was the extent of young people's income. Coins were few and far between and students could not get regular jobs until they were 16 years old.

As soon as the school DID have a lunchroom, officials declared that students would not be allowed out on the streets wandering about during school hours. The lunchroom was not a great success, even though the food was wonderfully prepared by the hard working staff and was always delicious, home cooked fare. Parents were so poor they could not afford to pay for school lunches, especially when there were several students from one family in school at the same time. Since I was the oldest child in OUR family, my parents made me secure a health department certificate and I worked in the lunchroom, both before and after lunch time, so that my brother and sister and I could eat for free.

Students were more industrious back then and diligently worked at tasks and did manage to scrape together 25 cents every now and then. When they did, a "gang" would walk all the way down to Mullins Cafe - even at the risk of being "discovered" off the school grounds. Those hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries and cokes called to us and we resisted them as long as we possibly could, but finally temptation got the best of even the most faithful of faithful students. The results would be that they were so sleepy all afternoon after all that food they should have just played hooky and gone on home. They sure did not pay close attention to class room instructions for the rest of the day. I can't remember that any of us were ever caught - even though you just HAVE to know that everyone in town knew that we had been there.

Remember and smile!