Did You Know? Joe Bradley School - An Institution

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An Institution

Reprinted from Bill Easterling’s column in the Huntsville Times – 1986
Did You Know? articles provided by Jim Marek.

They did more than just close a building the other day. They said goodbye to an institution. Joe Bradley School was quietly put out to pasture last Friday in a nostalgic little ceremony that lasted less than an hour.

Maybe there should have been a band and some fireworks.

At the very least, somebody ought to erect a plaque on the grounds to record, for all time, what Bradley meant to the citizens of what used to be called West Huntsville.

FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS or so, Bradley has been one of the school system’s administrative centers. But when it was decided that the new hub of activity for school business would be the Annie Mertz Center, Bradley’s days were numbered.

Businessmen who bought the property plan to lease it as office space. Whatever the Bradley building becomes, they will never do away with its memories and its history.

Great teachers like Miss Edna Keel and Mrs. Earnest Wright commanded those classrooms, and a Who’s Who of old Huntsville names sat at their feet and listened.

All of the Yell clan walked those halls: Roy, Gene, Tootie, Wad, Billy Ray …

Judge David Archer was an honored alumnus. Paul Anderson, the man who created Huntsville’s Parks and Recreation Department, was a member of the student body.

The Daniels boys, Herman and Bulldog, and their pal, Jerry Crabtree, got Bradley diplomas before they entered law enforcement later in life.

Charles Shelton and Ken Elmore learned the basics there and then went out into the great world to become big deals in several things, most notably city bowling circles.

People like H.T. Watson, Bill Gant, Charles Smith, and Dillard Spurlock made Bradley athletic teams famous.

AN ENDLESS LIST, really, and too much of a job to try and play name-dropper with.

Just let it be recorded that those of us who lived in other of Huntsville’s mill villages always dreaded to have to cross Pinhook Creek and go play those suckers way out there at the end of Triana Boulevard.

If the building provided the container, one of the giants of local education furnished the heart and soul. His name is E.F. DuBose, and he was Bradley’s principal for 40 years.

He has been retired to his nursery business for many years now, but all of them, teachers and students, continue to call him “Mister”.

His method was simple: A firm hand and compassion.

And in those days when principals still had control of their schools, nobody messed with Mr. DuBose.

He knew all about their “secret” gangs, and about what went on back there behind the building in those trees – and when he said “jump!” they asked “how high?”

DuBose was the honored guest at the going-away party held last week, and you could tell, in the brief remarks he made to those assembled in the old lunchroom, that his emotions were mixed.

He told several happy tales that made everybody laugh, but you could see, in his eyes, that he hated seeing his baby go.

Well, why not? As he was quoted in the paper Sunday, “I didn’t like to see Friday afternoon. I enjoyed seeing Monday morning. It was my life.”

They call that “being dedicated”, and because he was, Bradley’s teachers and students always felt they had a chance because they knew their man was a fighter.

THERE WERE SEVERAL of those former students in the crowd Friday. Some had dressed up especially for the occasion; some had simply come from work on their lunch hour.

They were there for the same reason: To say goodbye to their old school and to honor with their presence the man who led them.

So, as final as that, there will be no Joe Bradley School anymore.

But for those who began to learn about life in its classrooms, there will always be the memories.

Editor’s Footnote: Joe Bradley School was demolished later in1986. Former students of Joe Bradley School and residents of Merrimack Mill Village hold an annual reunion. This year’s reunion will be held on June 25th at the Fraternal Order of Eagles facility, 2500 10th Street just off Bob Wallace, beginning at 10:00am. For more information, contact Joe Sims at (256) 603-6478.

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