Memories of Livingston Grammar School

Most of us have special people in our lives that have been a positive force during our growing up years, and with this entry of my journal, Judy (Johnson) Padgett, wife of Hoyt Padgett, of Livingston, shares some of her memories of a favorite teacher she had in grade school. Judy is one of ten children whose parents were the late Milburn and Tina Johnson. Judy writes:

"Teachers have a unique job in the fact that they are granted big chunks of our childhood years, and are afforded the opportunity to leave an indelible imprint on our lives. All of us have a favorite teacher whose memory we cherish. For me, that person was my eighth grade teacher, Frances (Keisling) Scott. This was the first time I discovered a teacher could also be a friend. I loved that school year from the first day, and was sad when it ended. Fortunately, we remained friends for the remainder of her life. My best memory of Frances was hearing her tell stories of her years spent teaching in a remote rural school, and sensing her obvious love and devotion for those former students. I owe to her my love for books, and, more importantly, any sense of confidence I have ever had. Though she is gone, her memory will always be alive in me. This is my small tribute to her."

After reading what Judy has written about her favorite teacher, I was reminded of the old school building known as Livingston Grammar School where the third through the eighth grades were taught in the 1950's. First and second grades were taught in the building the Overton County Board of Education just recently moved from. I recently saw an old picture of the grammar school, and as I sat looking at that picture, I could recall every single room in that building, what grades were taught in each of those classrooms, and most of the teachers who taught during the years I attended. That building seemed enormous to me then. The wooden floors were oiled on a regular basis, and that created a smell that we took home with us every day. The lunchroom was in the basement of the building where Mrs. Lois Stephens was in charge. Both of my brothers and I were among the students from the fifth through the eighth grades who worked in the school lunchroom. Thatís how we paid for our lunches. And that wasnít a hard job. In fact, for me it certainly had its rewards. Mrs. Hazel Keisling was in charge of baking and icing the cakes served as dessert, and she always saved the gigantic size mixer beaters covered with icing for me. Iíve left that lunchroom many times almost sick at my stomach from eating too much of that delicious chocolate or vanilla frosting. All the dishes were washed by hand, and Iíve stood beside Mrs. Mildred Wright many a day drying plates as she washed them. Mildred always had a lot of good advice to pass on to me while we worked side by side during those school days.

I remember the school auditorium that was also in the basement of the building. School programs were held there. Each grade would present plays or programs about once a month, and I always looked forward to those special days. The first one I can remember performing in was put on by my second grade class and included singing "How Much is that Doggy in the Window". One of the most colorful ones I can remember being in had pastel colored crepe paper dresses, bonnets with matching umbrellas for the girls. The theme for that program was "In Your Easter Bonnet."

It was during my third grade class that I can remember my interest in reading began. Mrs. Lena Thomas was my teacher that year, and she would call me up to her desk during study period and have me read to her. I didnít realize it at the time, but she knew that with encouragement, reading would become something I would enjoy always, and she was exactly right. Iím very grateful she took that extra time with me. Because of her, the love of reading is still one of my favorite pastimes. It was also in her room that Gerald and Jean Qualls were my classmates. Jean and Gerald are twins, and brought their lunches from home that had been very neatly and carefully packed in a brown paper bag by their mother. Even though the things she fixed for them was what some might consider pretty ordinary, I always looked forward to seeing what was in those paper bags each day. And it never seemed to be the same thing twice. Sometimes it would be peanut butter and crackers, or other times a piece of fried chicken, and sometimes for dessert, a fried apple pie. I remember thinking how yummy everything they brought for their lunches looked to me.

I suppose my most creative teacher was Mrs. Flossie Wilmoth. She taught fourth grade, and always had a craft project of one kind or another for us to work on. She taught us how to paint on glass, and not too long ago, I ran across one of the pictures I did that year. She was a very loving and kind hearted teacher too.

Euretha Miller was another teacher that really encouraged me to spend a lot of time reading. She taught sixth grade, and I especially enjoyed being in her class. She was always pleasant and made learning very easy and enjoyable. She dedicated a lot of time to carefully instructing us in cursive writing also. Even though she didnít remember having me as a student when our paths crossed several years ago, I still think she was one of the best teachers I had in grade school.

 

 

 

The 1961 8th grade class of Livingston Elementary School poses on the steps of the building that used to stand where A.H. Roberts Elementary is now.

Not a single sign of the Livingston Grammar School building remains today. Itís too bad the building couldnít have been preserved. I think it had such character, something the newer buildings that go up today are greatly lacking in. The A.H. Roberts building that stands in its place today doesnít bear the slightest resemblance to itís predecessor. Even those huge old oak trees that lined the sidewalk are gone too. But to those of us who went to school there, we have our memories, and we also have the imprints our teachers made on our young lives. Thanks, Judy, for sharing your tribute to Frances Scott. It was a different world then, and a great time, I think, to have grown up in.

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