By W. P. Sissell
Did you ever change schools? I did, not because I wanted to do so, but because of my parents wishes. There were several reasons, with the main one being that my sister, Ruth, and I would be more available at the Water Valley location if needed at home on very short notice. The actual factor that created the availability of the choice was the loss of the Sylva Rena School building by fire. Most of our farm, what we called the “Cottoner Place”, was in the Sylva Rena School District and the trustees of the district, along with the people of the area, decided to consolidate with the Water Valley District as the O’Tuckolofa District had done after a tornado destroyed their building earlier.
Of course Ruth and I only thought about the school friends that we were losing without realizing that there would be many new friends to gain. Many of Ruth’s friends became my friends because they all wanted to learn how to milk a cow and my cow, Boots, was a good one on which to learn. I wonder how many would say that they learned to milk Boots, or would admit that they knew how to milk. Ruth really wasn’t old enough to realize that we were interfering with the friendship structure of the school we were entering. Ruth and I were separated for she was in the old building on Wagner Street and I was in the High School building in North Water Valley.
I was entering the first year (ninth) of high school. In most of the classes, and in particular the study hall, I was seated alphabetically next to Jack (Dago, why I don’t know) Thompson. We became fast friends in a short time. Gone were friends Dean Hill, Alfred Reed, Richard Carlisle, Audley Jones, Harvey Gray, Earnest Shelton, Bob Samuels, several Ashfords, James Kelso, several Anthonys, Gerald and Eldon Lowe, and many others. Alfred would soon join me at Water Valley. Audley’s family would soon move to the Jeff Davis District. This fellow’s story is an interesting one—we’re still in touch with one another. The last time I heard from him his wife was the Mayor of Red Oak, Texas.
Many of us met again after WWII at some college or university, along with friends gained at Water Valley. While at Camp Ground we all competed scholastically. At Water Valley Alfred and I continued that competition. In those days they had scholastic competitions, as well as athletic competitions, between students in the schools and districts. Someone will have to refresh my memory for all I can come up with is Field Meets and I don’t think that’s correct. I represented Water Valley in several of the scholastic competitions.
Later, in the army service, Army Specialized Training Forces Program, we took various comprehensive tests, two per day for a week. They really explored our brains. I used the knowledge imparted to us by Mr. Bell in all those special classes he held for those of us who would be in the services.
A Change in Buses
For the first eight years of my schooling I had ridden the Camp Ground bus. First, I had ridden that bus with my big brother, Reuel, Jr., then with little sister, Ruth, after Reuel, Jr. graduated. The Camp Ground bus was driven by Mr. Earnest House, then by Billy Wilbourne. and then by Henry Henderson. The route started somewhere in the neighborhood of McCullar’s Store across Yocona. All the drivers mentioned above had to start so that they passed our house to begin their routes. We found out that most times we could hear the bus cross the old and new bridge across Yocona before we had to get on the road for our stop. Now Mr. Raymond Clowney was the driver on the former Sylva Rena route, now the Water Valley route, that would pick us up. Mr. Clowney lived where County Road 152 intersects MH 32. He usually told us which way he would go each day. He liked to run one way in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Nannette’s foot is getting better every day. She has been back to see Dr. Williams and he seems pleased to see the progress. We will see him again this week. Our children, Nancy, Susan, and Shipp, are seeing to it that Momma is taken care of amidst their other activities.
Do have a great week—please do not wish for that predicted snow. Our hay supply is getting low!