True Tales of Life In the Old Days - Part 7, Recollections of Gladys True, A Vintage Vignette

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True Tales of Life In the Old Days - Part 7
Recollections of Gladys True

A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
October 4, 2009

Gladys McFarlen True in her book “My Life from Wagons to Rockets” described her time in high school at Gurley, Alabama. Excerpts are given below in Gladys’ words, continuing the series of selected life experiences from her book. I have added italicized parenthetical insertions for clarifications when needed. I have also occasionally used a few slight reorganizations of the material for consistency of focus on the subject of each story.

“I also want to tell you that many people in those days did not get to go to high school. When they finished all the schooling they could get at Trenton, some of the students would go back through seventh and eighth grade and study, just because they were interested in learning, not because they had to. Not many girls got to go to high school. Angelese (Vandiver), Wyness (Freeman), and I were good friends all those years we were in grammar school. We started our first school years together, but those two moved away and we went to high school at different schools. The Vandivers moved back to Vernon, Alabama, which was where Angelese’s mother was from and where her daddy (a physician) went to practice. Wyness and I went to Gurley for high school. The principal of Madison County High School came to our house to see if I could go there to school. He was from another county. I lived in Jackson County, not Madison County, and we were a little late deciding that I could go to high school. We knew I would need to “board” away from home to go to high school. I wanted to be a teacher but there was no way during the Depression. High school was supposed to make me a lady and was considered a good education at that time.”

“I stayed the first month that I went to school at Maxie’s house. Maxie is my cousin. My daddy and Maxie’s mother were brother and sister. I went in August, and it was extremely hot. The students picked cotton in the afternoon. I had picked cotton one day but my mother would not give me a big cotton sack. She had sewed a strap to a bag that flour came in, and gave it to me to use. I did not put any leaves or burrs in my bag, so I had nice, clean cotton. My fingers got so sore and those rows were so long. When we weighed up, I thought I was going to be rich. I made thirty-seven cents all day, and that got me out of the cotton patch.”

“(Later, after the first month,) while I was staying at Aunt Mary Eliza’s in Brownsboro, we rode a school bus. This was a 1916 Model A school bus. It had curtains rolled up on each side. You cannot imagine the dust and the wind that got in our hair, and what we looked like when we got there. Not that it mattered. Everybody else looked like that, too, if they had not walked to school.”

“There was one hill in Killingsworth Cove. That old bus would not always make it up the hill. If we met a car, or if it was raining, we knew we had to get out and walk up the hill. If our bus was the only one on the road, and the driver got up enough speed, we would make it up the hill without having to get out and walk.”

“The school in Gurley looked like a mansion to me because it had two stories. In those days, school buildings were full of windows because they had to have the natural light. The auditorium was upstairs, and some of the classes were upstairs. Freshmen were always downstairs.”

The two-story schoolhouse in Gurley that Gladys described fits precisely with the arrangement of the school on College Street in Madison that stood until 1936. It was in that year that the school was torn down and the present brick facility of Madison Elementary School was erected in its place.

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