Allene Fischer Dixon and James Dixon attended Flat School for their high school education beginning about 1940. The red brick school building in Flat was about two blocks past the Masonic Lodge and with rooms for every teacher. There were 12 or 13 students in her 8th grade class and most graduated. James and Allene only attended Flat for one year together as James was two years older than she was. Allene didn’t pay much attention to any of the boys in high school, as she was only 13 or 14, and James didn’t manage to get her attention until she was older.

Coryell Museum has a schoolroom with a blackboard, and old fashioned school desks similar to those used by James and Allene. The one piece wooden 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 many of the old schools from the surrounding communities. Student photographs of many classes are on the wall.

The Superintendent of Schools for Flat was Curtis Humphries and among the teachers were Mr. Russo, and Mr. Mormon. Miss Erin Carroll, (later Mrs. Whitt) also began her career at the Flat. One of James daughters and I both had her for algebra and she was a sweetheart. Mrs. Brumbalow was one of the teachers and Mrs. Darby taught typing and Mr. Morris Bell taught history. Miss Janie Brookshire began her teaching career in Flat also. In high school at Flat the boys had softball, volleyball and football, and traveled by bus to compete with other communities.

Times were hard and James said that families didn’t make a living, they lived on what they made. Families made do with whatever they had, no matter how small the amount. All the families did have large gardens, but there were droughts then just as there are now. They raised their own hogs, and chickens. They had fried squirrel and gravy when James had time to hunt.

James had a squirrel dog to “tree” the squirrels and he killed many by working with his hunting dog. He would gut and skin them and take them to his mother to fry. If there was any little bit of hair left on the squirrel she would make James go back outside and take off the hair.

James had a squirrel dog that was half hound and half bulldog. Bob Arnold, his uncle, could not believe the dog could tree so many squirrels. His dog would walk around to the opposite side of the tree from James, barking. The squirrel would watch the dog and ease around the side of the tree trunk, which put the squirrel on the same side of the tree as the hunter. James would then have an easy shot.

They would find wild bronze turkey nests and steal their eggs, or sometimes the more tame turkey would hatch her eggs and bring the biddies back to the house to eat some chicken feed. Turkeys were sold at Thanksgiving to get money for Christmas. They also had a cow and would have to milk every day. He and his brother would have a milk fight by squirting each other and if his parents caught them they would be in trouble for wasting milk. I imagine mostly they were not caught!

In the early grades at Longview School, James and Allene walked to school, but by high school they rode on the school bus to Flat and their driver was Mr. Howard. James and Allene both remember what a wonderful person Mr. Howard was and how well he could control the kids. All roads were gravel roads and the bus got stuck often, and for hours. Well, this made all the kids giddy with happiness to delay going to school and they sat on the bus talking and laughing. Marvin Tippit, who was James uncle, would finally get there and “rescue” the kids by pulling the bus out of the mud with his team of mules.

Allene graduated in 1943 from the 11th grade at Flat, but James didn’t get the opportunity to graduate. He had to go to work during the Depression in Temple as his father was ill and there were several younger brothers and sisters to feed. His pay was 15 dollars a week and he worked for Bell Ice Cream Company. He drove a truck to deliver ice cream and also worked in the ice cream plant. He worked for Joe Poboril until he was drafted.

But by Dec. 27, 1945 they were married when he came back from World War II and they have been married 67 years! They have three children, a pesky son and two sweet daughters, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This fall Allene will be 88 years young and James said, “This old World War II veteran will be 90 the third of October.

By Jann Dworsky and Property of The Gatesville Messenger 2014

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