Don’t forget the custodians, bus drivers, cooks

I have written about superintendents, teachers and coaches at Rochelle school, but I left out the most important employees, the auxiliary folks who keep the wheels turning for a better and cleaner school. The custodians, who we used to call janitors, had a tough job. Way back in the ’20s and ’30s, they came to school by 5 a.m. to build fires in the old coal stoves during the wintertime. The first janitor I remember was Wes Mitchell. Then came Ernest Clary. On cold days they would let two boys at a time go to the coal shead to get coal. Sometimes we would put .22 shells in the coal and wait for the explosions. Drew Brown was custodian most of my school days. He was always there and interested in all school activities. Leland Banks was custodian most of my years as superintendent. Leland never missed a day and was very loyal to his job. The day of his mother’s funeral, he was there in the morning. I asked him what he ws doing at the school. He said, “The funeral is in the afternoon.” Leland spent 27 years at the school. He ws the only custodian without help most of those years. I think today there are about four custodians, but there are more buildings, and I’m sure it is cleaner. The cooks for the lunchroom are a very important part of the school day. The serve breakfast and lunch daily. The federal law was, and I suppose still is, that you don’t have to serve lunch, but you have to offer breakfast to stay in the government program. Mrs. Wingo was the first cook that I recall, but she ran a private lunchroom, charging 10′ for a hamburger and 5′ for a slice of homemade pie. Then the federal lunch program began in about 1944 with the PTA sponsoring it. Some of the cooks were Mrs. Woodford, Mrs. Waddill, Mrs. Whitaker, Mrs. Haywood, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Cowan, Billie Smith, Berta Cates Harvison, Mrs. Banks and Mrs. Doyal, who both retired at Rochelle. There were several others who worked in the lunchroom, but those I don’t remember well. Mrs. Jerry Tedder is the present head cook and does a great job. She, too, has been there long enough to retire real soon. The bus drivers I remember very well. The first bus driver I ever rode with was Troy Farris in about 1936. Other bus drivers were Douglas Leach, who drove our bus on football nights when I was in high school. Other drivers were Tom Penn, Bill Huffman, Dee Cox, Raymond Harvison, Vess Bennett, Elbert Doyal, who retired from school and could keep an old bus running with bailing wire and tape. I think Bobby Hurd drove the East Sweden bus when he was in high school. I recall the East Sweden bus having a wreck and turning over in front of the tabernacle in about 1937. A lot of teachers drove buses as I did for four or five years. The school has to have substitutes when any of the folks are absent, but can run smoothly without one person being there and that is the superintendent.

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