Rochelle grad recalls early days at school

Special Column In the Brady Standard/Herald newspaper published Aug. 17, a picture with the 1940-41 Rochelle volleyball team ran under the Tootsie Mitchell “Way Back When” column. The unidentified person pictured between Patsy Cawyer and Helen White is Velma Gilbreath. She married an Adams from Winchell and they ran the store there for a number of years (between 1930-1940). Their son was a McCulloch County Commissioner who declined to re-run about four years or so ago. I’m sure others have advised you and Tootsie Mitchell of Velma’s identity and that my letter is redundant but is sent nevertheless, just in case. I would have sent Tootsie a copy except I didn’t know his address, other than Rochelle. I have attached copies of photographs which may be of interest to your readers. They are the third grade and senior class pictures of the Rochelle 1941 graduating class. This class began school in 1930, which was the first year six-year-olds were allowed to go to public school. The first grade class at Rochelle was segregated into six and seven-year-olds. After first grade there was complete integration. Mrs. Clary taught the six-year-olds and Mrs. Spiller taught the seven-year-olds. The first picture of the 1930 entrance class, of which I am aware, is the third grade picture I have attached. Lula Mae (Selman) Bunten, a current Brady resident, gave me this picture a couple of years ago. Due to her excellent memory, she was able to identify all the people depicted. Several comments seem appropriate about the third grade picture. The most important is to remember and honor the angel who taught the class. Miss Caveness was not only beautiful, she was also kind, considerate, gentle and loving. An excellent teacher, she had a profound and lasting impact on many, if not all, the students in her class. Unfortunately, I never got around to looking her up and thanking her. An examination of the photograph reveals that the feet of all the persons on the front row are visible and all are barefooted except Herman Segrest (Herman was a B-24 crew member in World War II and was killed when his plane failed to make it over the “hump” flying supplies to China. It is unfortunate that none of the girls feet are visible. It would be interesting to see whether or not they were wearing shoes. Had I been asked I would have said I never went to school barefoot. I have no recollection of having done so. Incidentally, all the barefoot individuals in the front row are deceased, except for me. Herman died in the war and the others by reason of accidents, suicide or natural causes. The 1941 photograph of the Rochelle graduating senior class reflects to some extent the population shift of the late 1940s because of war industries springing up, but to a greater extent the graduation failures of those days. Note that of 34 children in the third grade, only 15 are listed as graduating from high school. The influence of the additional consolidation (Placid, Mercury and Milburn) is astounding. Specifically, Sadie Cox, Wilma Woods, Velma Gilbreath, Edna Earl McCluskey, Marjorie White, Patsy Cawyer, Welton Smith, Ruby Spencer, B.F. Lovelace, Howard Kilmer, comprised nearly a third of the graduates. Of particular note is Mrs. Roberta Sapp Terry who sponsored the 1941 seniors throughout their high school years and had a substantial, beneficial influence on the student’s lives. By me, C.E. Nelson, superintendent, was a competent, firm but fair executive.

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