to the Reagan School Campus of Yesteryear
Segregated Reagan School Facilities
Prior to the Civil Rights legislation in the 60's, all Texas towns had a two-tier school system:one for the whites and one for the Negroes. The Negro school, with a much smaller enrollment, was located in a two story wooden building west of main street near the cotton gin and colored housing. Because we were so isolated from the colored community, I know very little about what went on in that part of town.
The Main Reagan Campus
The Reagan white school campus was a stately campus built much like a small college. The campus proper was nicely laid out on 10 acres of land approximately three blocks from downtown. The main building was a two story brick structure with a one story wing that served as the elementary school building. A short distance in front of the school was a cafeteria, and a large gymnasium with the boys rest room on one side and the girls rest room on the opposite side. The campus included lots of sidewalks, a stately flag pole, and numerous water fountains.
This great photo of the Reagan 6th Grade Class of 1939/1940 was taken out in front of the Reagan School building. Reagan 6th Grade '39-'40: L-R Mr Gafford, Mike Short, Dell Barnes, Mildred Fenner,
Betty Mills, Pauline Brazina, ?, Pauline Nutt, Miss Keahey, Adella Brazina, Helen,
Charlene Lewis, James Bryant, Buster Moore, Venee. Photo curtesy Pauline Nutt Malone of Temple, Texas).
Another photo showing the front of the main building. This photo of the 3rd and 4th Grades was taken in 1946.
To one side of the school was a bell tower and a huge bell that was rang five minutes before the start of school each day and at the beginning and ending of each recess period and lunch break and, most importantly, at the end of the school day!
George Macdonald, former student at Reagan High standing beside the old bell that once called students to class and signalled the beginning and ending of recess and lunch breaks and of course,the end of the day. Today, this treasure is owned by Donovan Kirkpatrick, who got it from his dad, Thagard Kirkpatrick. (Photo curtesy of George Macdonald).
Along the west side of the property (front of the campus) was a white rail fence and a style to enter and leave the campus. Sidewalks led from the entry style over to the main building and around to the cafeteria and gymnasium.
The boys used to make a game of jumping over the style while the country kids waited for the bus. Just to the left of the entry style was a chinning bar that also saw a lot of activity before and after school. The combination football, soccer, baseball field and general play ground was adjacent to the Methodist church.
At the back of the school was a merry go round, set of see-saws, Johnny stripes, swings, a huge slide and lots of wide open running room.
The old merry-go-round was always filled to capacity at recess time!
The "Johnny Stripes" or Rotary Swings were another favorite.!
This photo of Tagard Kirkpatrick taken in 1926
shows the back part of the
big slide that we all enjoyed at recess time!
There was the occasional broken arm
due to a fall but that didn't discourage us!
On the south side of the main building was a large set of swings (you felt like your toes could almost touch the sky) and a set of see-saws as you can see in this old picture from 1946.
The swings and see-saws are to the right in this picture (just past the 1st and 2nd grade wing).
On the north side of the main building stood the old bell tower and bell. Different kids were assigned to ring the bell to signify starting of classes, recess breaks, lunch breaks, and even fire alarms.
When I first started school, Reagan was a full 12-year school although only a handful of students occupied the 8th through 12th grades. By 1948, Reagan was cut back to an elementary school for grades 1 through 6 and all other students being bussed to Marlin. By this time, the second story of the main building which had been used as high school classroom space, was closed off for safety reasons.
Reagan First and Second Grade Wing
The first and second grade wing was a single story brick wing on the south side of the two story main building. The wing was actually one large rectangular room partitioned into a clock room for storing coats and supplies and a main classroom with stove in the southeast corner and an elevated area along the front of the classroom (where you could line up contestants in a spelling bee or come up to read to the class.
The photo taken in 1940 shows the 1ST and 2ND grade wing off to the right of the picture.
The first grade students occupied the west side of the room nearest the door and were assigned double wide desks, two kids per desk. A large blackboard was mounted on the west wall. Much of our first grade education was devoted to learning to read the primers and learning to write the alphabet in block letters. Cursive writing and advanced reading and spelling and mathematics came in the second and subsequent grades.
The second grade students sat on the east side of the room and were assigned individual desks. By the second grade, students began learning cursive writing, spelling, mathematics and advanced levels of reading.
Reagan School Main Building
The 3rd grade through the 12th grade were housed in the two story main building. The first floor of this building contained a large library at the front of the building and a general assembly area for singing and other related activities. A hallway (with two entrances on the west side of the building) led to classrooms around the perimeter of the building. The Northwest entrance hallway had a wall-mounted telephone.
Upstairs was the principal's office, and classroom space for all high school classes. A deck extended across the west side of the building (above the assembly area downstairs).
In later years, the upstairs area was roped off and declared off-limits to students because the stairs were no longer safe due to deterioration. Also some of the ceiling plaster in the rooms upstairs needed repairs but since the population was declining, they elected not to repair the rooms. However, some of us managed to sneak up for a look during the summer months when school was out of session and the custodian, Mr. McCaleb was working on the building.
Reagan Cafeteria (Home Economics) Building
Just to the west of the elementary wing was the Home Economics building that served as the school cafeteria in the late 40's and early 50's (a year or two earlier, the school cafeteria was a building across from the J.V. Scroggins place. Maybe someone can come up with an old photo). The H.E. building that served as our cafeteria was a white wooden building from which Mrs. Funderburk and various assistants including Mrs. Joiner, served home cooked meals to the teachers and students.
Because we lived so close to the school, we generally went home for lunch and then rushed back to play until the bell rang signifying the end of the lunch break.
West of the school cafeteria building stood the stately Gymnasium building which would have rivaled a lot of colleges in its time. This building was well known by all members of the community. It was here that pageants were put on at Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving and it was here that Marilyn Scroggins once performed a beautiful piano recital.
The Reagan Gym was a marvel of a building that served the needs of the school, town and area communities. At the back of the gym was a large stage that was used for class plays, square dancing, musical performances, and travelling country/western shows including the Hank Williams show.
To either side of the gym were the boys and girls dressing rooms. As a young lad, I can still remember the antique football helmets and equipment that had been used by Reagan athletes since the turn of the century.
Although the gym was primarily built for musical performances and basketball, the Reagan gym also doubled as a skating rink, a Halloween Carnival with room enough for the entire population of Reagan to attend, a dance hall, site for the prom, graduation ceremonies, and a roller skating rink. The gym was also used as a recreation center for the churches, 4-H clubs, Home Demonstration Clubs, square dancing, travelling movie shows, music recitals, and country western shows.
One of the special shows was put on by the Sinclair Oil Corporation during which a multitude of oil products were given away as door prizes. I remember winning a can of oil (now what was a 10 year old kid in Reagan gonna do with a can of oil (why oil the chains of all the kids bicycles of course).
FIRST REAGAN HOMECOMING
The first Reagan Homecoming reunion was held at the Reagan Gym in 1959. It was reported that the crowd was so large, it could not all fit inside the gym and spread out on the old school campus. Talk of bygone days was so loud, you had to shout inside the gym!
This photo taken in the early 1950's
shows some of the 3rd graders getting their skates on.L-R: seated, unknown, Karen Kirkpatrick, Ernest Cobb, Cathy Cox, and Albert Pecina. Assisting other skaters were Hal Curry and William Gregg.
(Photo curtesy of Karen Kirkpatrick).
Reagan Schools Recess Times
If you ask any former student of Reagan what they remember best, it would be the school recess activities. Recess was indeed a major event that shaped our lives every bit as much as the formal education inside the classrooms. The play ground was well equipped with swings, slides, merry-go-round and Johnny stripes, see-saws, and numerous other forms of entertainment.
Some of the kids would bring their toy guns to school and play cowboys and Indians at recess time; others brought their tops and still others brought jump ropes and jacks. Children could also play volleyball or check out a football to get a game of touch football going. The teachers supervised the recess activities which were a combination of physical education and free play time. In fact, recess was so much fun that children actually looked forward to coming to school and would do so even when they were ill!
In fact, it was so much fun that my younger brothers, L.B. and Richard, used to come up at recess time and play with the other kids long before either was old enough to attend school!
The recess entertainment I best recall took place just off the school campus on the east side. Here on the clay hills , we discovered clay balls and at first we played who could throw a clay ball the farthest. Then the eventual happened. Several of the meaner kids started pelting other kids as they came up. Word of the fight spread like wildfire across the little campus and soon dozens of kids were joining in on the fracas. Soon there were two armies squaring off against each other and clay balls filled the air. Soon we dug out forts on two adjoining hills and stacked up mounds of ammunition. I don't recall anyone getting seriously hurt but the potential was definitely there! One day word got back to the teachers and we were forbidden from crossing the fence and leaving the school grounds!
(Recesses were a great invention-one that today's generation no longer enjoys.. It seems to have gone the way of the horse and buggy and the mule drawn plow)!
Principals/Teachers at Reagan Schools
During my stay in Reagan, Mr. Claude Buell was the school Superintendent.
Over a nine-year period, we had several principals (who also taught classes and generally their wives were teachers). Some of the principals that I recall include Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Whatley (with two bird dogs, one named Max) and Mr. White. Mrs. Mary Kirkpatrick was the last princial of Reagan (1954 to 1964).
Some of the teachers included: Mrs. Sybil Burnet (1st and 2nd grade teacher until 1945), Miss Truett (taught 1st and 2nd Grades), Mrs. T.D. Taylor (3rd grade teacher), Mary Kirkpatrick, another 3rd grade teacher who had taught my mom and dad back at the West End Schools at Wooten Wells in the 30's), Mrs. Tom Kelly (5th Grade teacher), Mr. White (taught 6th grade and coached the basketball team),Mrs. Whatley and others.
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