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School Days-GHS-1950s-1960s: Part 3



As we turned the corner to the ninth grade, literally because most of our classes were on the Senior High Wing, classwork and homework became more challenging.

We entered into the realm of Miss Northcutt for Algebra I, Mrs. Thornton for ninth grade English and for some of us, Mrs. Morton and Latin. Obviously, there were others but none quite so pronounced.

Miss Northcutt taught Algebra I and Business Math. By the time that we got there, she and Miss Hinton who taught Geometry and Advanced Algebra, had established themselves as outstanding math teachers among students and also among teachers throughout the state.

Miss Northcutt spoke softly and carried a big stick. No, and I mean no misbehaving in her class.

After I finished college and had a time to wait before entering the USAF, I was honored to be able to teach Algebra I in Miss Northcutt’s classroom.

I was sure that she was looking down on me hopefully with her pretty smile. Business Math should be a required class for everyone.

And I finally figured out the answer for when a train leaves Amarillo at 7:00 a.m. traveling at 47 miles per hour and another leaves Knoxville at 12:00 p.m. traveling at 52 miles per hour, what time of the day they will have a head-on crash.

And Mrs. Thornton!  When we got there, Mrs. Thornton had been teaching for years.  She taught my mother and Ronald Boyd’s dad 9th grade English in high school in Troy.

Mrs. Thornton had a good personality and could make the best of a bad situation.

We diagrammed sentences and we diagrammed sentences. If you were caught talking in class, you stayed after class and diagrammed sentences!

In Literature, “The Scarlett Letter” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850 was our first brush with that subject.

I’ve thought many times about Mrs. Thornton walking around the room and asking what Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar meant when he said, “The coward dies many times before his death, the valiant dies but once”.

Taking Latin was sure to help if you wanted to go to Med school. Taking Latin was sure to help with your later English classes.

Nobody bothered to tell us what taking Latin would do to you in the ninth grade along with Miss Northcutt’s Algebra I and Mrs. Thornton’s English.

There could not have been a better Latin I teacher than Mrs. Morton, certainly not one more thorough.

I should have told my counselor I had no intention of going to Med school and I would take my chances with future English classes.

I never quite conquered “veni, vidi, vici”. For those of us who took Latin II, we had a great foundation from Mrs. Morton’s Latin I.

In football, the coaches decided it was best to divide the prospective B-team players and the varsity players from the outset.

I felt better because James Sexton, Tommy Brown and Gerald Johnson were nowhere in sight.

Coach Bernard Smith was the B-team coach. He was a good coach, working in some fun along with teaching the fundamentals.

We started with 20-30 boys out for B-team but as practice got tougher and the weather got colder, our group dwindled to the right side of the line scrimmaging the left side in practice.

A lot of boys in our age group needed after-school jobs. Some really good boys remained on that team to the very end including:  Buddy Barrett, Paul Burch, Terry Gafford, Wayne Henderson, Larry Jones, Larry Morris, Johnny Perdue, Dennis Phillips, Tommy Plant and Dave Whetstone.

I finally made it to quarterback. In my first play from scrimmage, I called a pass. As I rolled right, I did a face-mask plant in the turf.

Over my shoulder, I asked Dave Whetstone what he was doing on top of me. He said “this moose is on top of me”.

Troy’s 200 lbs.+ nose guard had tackled our 145 lb. center and me.

When I went to the sideline, Coach Smith asked about the first play. When I told him it was a pass and Bobby Hunt’s first play at Auburn on Saturday had been a pass that worked great.

Coach Smith said, “Son, you’re not Bobby Hunt.”  Later, I was moved to defensive back

1 Comment

  1. Mary Lib on April 19, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Oh I wish we could have gone all through school together. Even though I’m not familiar with the boys I enjoyed the read. Your articles help make my day.

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