Early Days at Corsicana High School
Written by Ruth Burkhalter
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", Vol. XXI 1988
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society
Since it has been said you may judge a
person by his conduct and marked characteristics which may cause you to form a correct opinion of each of my classmates, and which may be of use to all
concerned in the future.
It would be useless to try to give a
complete history of each of our forty one students in so short a time as I have to read this history, so my task shall be to give briefly such facts concerning
my classmates as will give a proper conception of their greatness, and this I have attempted to do after a long and careful research of the school records,
diaries, marginal quotations on High School text books, and disfigured surfaces of old school desks, private letters, local newspapers, and other like sources.
I shall take first our Valedictorian,
Mary Elinor Leslie, who has always been a favorite, not only with the pupils, but also the teachers (especially Mr. Vance) on account of having always manifested the greatest desire to attain, not only the highest standing in her classes, but also a desire for the greatest knowledge of all that which is true
Orren Hailey, our worthy Salutatorian,
who has only been with us for this year, ran a very close race with our Valedictorian, but, of course, the Leslie girl won.
When Wilson David entered the High
School, a wee tot in knee trousers, he was filled with a great desire for learning. He was reared as a very remarkable child, and caused much wonder at his progress in school and his talent for drawing. All the girls are
glad to have posters for their rooms with his named signed to them. We trust in future he may become a great artist. Wilson is not our only
artist. Gladys Greenlee, Nettie Mae Ramsey, and Margie Alford are artists of the No. 1 order. An amusing incident happened some time ago in
connection with a picture drawn by Miss Ramsey. During algebra class, Miss Ramsey passed a picture drawn by herself to a girl sitting across the aisle.
"Where are the water lilies?
Here is the water and frog alright." Miss Ramsey refused to answer, and the sparks began to fly, for which reason the girl across the aisle did not
discover till later. The picture proved to be a picture of a well known "Junior". Whether the mistake of the girl was
the fault of Miss Ramsey or of the "Junior", who knows.
All of my classmates are not artists by
any means. Some of them are bright Geometry Stars. Those especially interested in this subject, are Jessie Cullen, Mike O'Connor, Maud
Ransom, Charles David, James Dyer, and Carl Mirus. From the beginning, we marveled at the interest these took and envied them their understanding of the
subject. One of the questions often asked these by the professor was whether they could see through an open door. They were never known to miss
a proposition, and originals are their greatest delight. So convincing was always their proof, that I believe, had they tried, they could easily have made the teachers, as well as the class acknowledge a circle is a square.
Carl Mirus, Josephine Peterson and
Lizzie Tinkle were very, very fond of Geometry, but they adore higher algebra. They can solve the most difficult quadratic equations with ease, and thoroughly
understand the "remainder theorem" and "imaginary expressions".
It has been decided that Carl Mirus
shall be our assistant Math teacher next year in case one is needed, which is quite probable on account of the great increase of interest in the subject among
Allie Pearl Speed began her work in the
High School just four short years ago. It is not necessary for me to again tell you her history since it has been recently written by our most famous poet,
Paoli Blair. To illustrate the latter's Poetical Power I shall give a specimen of his poetry, which I obtained without his knowledge.
Oh! Allie Pearl with eyes so blue
Come what may I'll remember you,
Your Paint and powder make me faint,
Tis known to all you are not a saint.
I think you all will agree that some day he will rank among the greatest poets of the South.
Max Wolens, Harry Jacobs, Albert Phillips and our class President, Walter Hugh Caldwell, although they hold the
honored position of class orators, are notorious flirts. It is reported they have stolen and broken many feminine hearts, although, as yet, they have
never been reported to the authorities. We trust that you will not profit by any knowledge you have obtained and get them into any trouble with
Birdie Johnston, Beauford Jester, and
James Holman deserve especial notice since they finished the High School course at the end of the first half term of this school year. They were among our
brightest pupils in English. We have Mr. Vance's work for it that he always left their compositions until the last to peruse at his leisure and then
he often had to call them to interpret them for him.
All of my classmates are distinguished,
not only in literary work, but also in culinary art. Those especially interested in this line of work are Rosa Miller, Viola Seagraves. Sophia Levi,
Kate Hughes and Nadine Kerr. James Holman can testify to the fact that these young ladies are excellent cooks.
Julia Callicutt and Margaret Lowry were
so pleased with the knowledge they learned the first day at the High School - the interesting fact that Alexander the Great discovered the Mississippi - that
they have scarcely missed a day while in High School. When they entered this school, they were drawn to the study of books and their authors, Scott and
Cooper are their favorite authors and they have been found several times sitting up until the wee small hours of the night reading Ivanhoe and the Last of the
Carolyn McCrey and Ellen McQuiston, though quiet like, often cause much merriment by impersonating the various members of the faculty, who, like most people, have their peculiarities.
By a drawl of the voice, a lifting of the eye brows of a, "beg pardon", they can make us feel we are in the very presence of these august
Ole Peterson and Waid Willis are our champion walkers. I think you will all agree they are rivals of Mr. Weston. They do not need a pedometer to carry with them, they can tell
just how far it is to the water works without the use of one. They naturally have a restless disposition, which, nothing but a moving picture show
or travel can satisfy.
Three of our young ladies were
especially interested in physiology this last year. They were Margie Hyndman, Irene Prine, and Birdie Horne. I think they were so interested
because they wished to learn more about their complexions. I notice they carry a chamois and a mirror.
Berta Frey, Vesta Purifoy and James
Woods, on entering the High School, became deeply interested in science. They have haunted the laboratory till there is not a bottle there
whose contents are unknown to them.
They have become so thoroughly
acquainted with the subject of chemistry that they didn't flinch when we had an explosion in the laboratory. I must confess to my mortification and
shame some of my other classmates squealed and turned very pale, but you can see now that they have recovered from the shock and have regained their former
Mike O'Conner, our late president of the Students Council, is truly an Irish Patriot, as his name implies. He is so studious that even a baseball game or a circus could not tear him away from his
much loved text books.
Now all who hear this history will be
convinced that this is the greatest class that ever was, is or will be. That we have undertaken with willing hands all tasks that have been laid before
us in these last five years provided for the acquirement of our High School knowledge, we call to witness our care worn faces and gray hairs.
In writing this record, I have observed
the utmost veracity and strict impartiality, hence it is history.
Would that I could tell you what the
future has in store for this great class of boys and girls. But that is another's realm.
And now our class prophet will tell you
how well we will fill our places in the life to come.
PER JAMES HOLMAN.
Mary Elinor Leslie
Nettie Mae Ramsey
Allie Pearl Speed
Walter Hugh Caldwell