Coryell Museum has a Schoolroom Exhibit with a blackboard, and old fashioned school desks similar to those used by students in Coryell County long ago. The one piece wooden student chair and desk top are held together with a metal frame. The unique thing about this room at the museum is that it has dozens of pictures of the old schools from the surrounding communities. Student photographs of the classes are on the wall. James and Allene Dixon have taken the time to give an interview to Coryell Museum about their school days. It has been a pleasure to hear their stories.
James and Allene Fischer Dixon attended schools in the 1930’s on what is now Ft. Hood. These schools were at Longview or Cold Springs community, as well as Dunn School (now called County Line). Flat School was where they attended high school.
Allene Fischer Dixon recalls she went to elementary school at The Grove and there were 4-5 teachers who taught grades 1-11. This was not the first school she had attended, but was the first in Coryell County. The Grove is just off Hwy. 36 about half way to Temple. There were no Kindergarten classes and no 12th Grade in any of the Coryell County schools at this time. Allene’s school was a public school and there was one teacher to a room.
After a few years at The Grove, Allene moved to Longview School which was also known as Cold Springs. James and Allene Fischer Dixon went to school here for several years of elementary school and then continued high school in the Flat.
At Longview school there really was a cold spring. There were springs all up and down Owl Creek. The spring had a strong flow about the size of a coffee cup when they were kids, but it is smaller than that today.
The teachers at Longview were Mrs. Pearl Richie for early grades, Mr. W.E. Holcomb taught math and Eula Holcomb taught later. There were about 20 or 25 students. This was a two room school and went to 7 grades and then the students transferred to the Flat.
Allene recalls that some of the school supplies were similar to today with notebook, tablets, pencils and fountain pens. Of course, they did not use computers or even use mimeographed or xeroxed pages but copied all their work off the chalkboard.
James and Allene both had metal lunch boxes, so they didn’t have to carry a syrup bucket. For lunch they might have a sandwich, with bacon or ham or even fried chicken. A special treat would be a peach or apricot fried pie. They both agreed that these were delicious.
On hot days there was no such thing as refrigerated air conditioning. The teachers did just what all the families would do at home--- just open the windows and hope for a breeze. They did not even have fans in the classroom. Allene recalls that the weather never was very hot as school let out in May.
Most of these community schools were in operation until after the Gatesville Independent School District separated from the city of Gatesville in 1948. School buses were provided to pick up children from many miles away and soon more modern and improved school buildings were built as the smaller schools consolidated into Gatesville.
Allene and James went to school with the neighbor kids around Coldsprings and Flat. Longview School was then located on what is now Ft. Hood, just a few miles from Flat. James father was a trustee at this school.
The Fullers, Stovalls, Parmers and Holts were living in the Cold Springs area. Lloyd Thomas was a close friend of James and they lived near each other. Norma Altum and Juanita Lee went to school there as well. The Faucett family, the Watts, Galloways, Wolfs, Copelands, Walls, Spurlins all attended school with them. Other families in this community were the Thompsons, Braziels, Clawsons, Tippits, Hamiltons, Beasleys, Sheltons, and the Neatherlands.
Everyone knew each others family, how many children there were and where their farm was located. Everyone knew if their neighbors had illness or accidents. No one traveled much past their community and to go to Temple took all day with a wagon and a team of horses. The families near you made your life better and made the community a good one.
James went one year of elementary school at County Line or Dunn School. Mrs. Eula Holcomb and Annie Lucky taught the lower grades. Both teachers had a college degree! Big old wood stoves were in each of the rooms at the Dunn School and they shared a stovepipe. It was 5 miles to the Dunn school and sometimes James got a ride with a neighbor, Mr. Bird. He carried several of the kids on his flat bed truck in the winter. If Mr. Bird could not give the kids a ride they had walked 10 miles by the end of the day.
The weather could cause the students to miss days of school. Heavy rains could cause Owl Creek to overflow its banks, keeping the students from getting to school. Freezing weather, ice or snow also kept the students at home. In winter heating was with wood stoves and the rooms at school were not very warm and on extremely cold days there was no school. Kids everywhere are always glad when there is no school, and I am sure they were delighted to have a day to stay home and play.
Come by and see our School Room Exhibit and the dozens of photographs on the wall.