McDavid Grammar School
ASHS Column for 08 04 2005
It all started innocently enough when Lillian Green
brought up the question of whether there were three
or four rooms in the old McDavid School. You'll
remember that from the column two weeks ago. You
readers nearly always come through with answers
when we put something to you, but this time you
opened the floodgates.
First of all, Billy R. Ward called. I could not (and still
can't) keep up with all the information that he offered,
but his first statement was that both the three and four
rooms were correct over a period of time. Then he
proceeded to describe the layout to me and I became
thoroughly confused, so I gave him a homework
assignment of drawing the floor plan and set a time to
meet at The Leach House to go over the material in
person. We did meet on Monday, July 25. I must say
that this was a most informational meeting. The floor
plan that you see accompanying this column is the
result and should bring back memories to some of you.
Early on, you can see where the grades were and then
how they changed after the 7th and 8th grades were
transferred to Century. Now some questions arise. In
what year did that change take place? As a matter of
fact, when was the McDavid School built and when
was it finally closed?
In looking at this floor plan, is it possible that at one time there truly were just three rooms, period? That came to my mind since the 1st and 2nd grade room, along with the kitchen, appear to be an add-on part. In the very early days could the children have brought their lunches if there was no kitchen?
We know that originally there were two privies away from the back of the school on the west side. Water was obtained from a tall pump near the big oak tree on the north side of the school. Later, we see that bathrooms with indoor plumbing were added to the west side of the building which indicates that water was now available from a source other than the outside pump.
We are told that a coal truck delivered coal to the back yard, but the boys were enlisted to shovel it into the bin under the kitchen (which was high off the ground). The coal fueled the potbelly stoves that were located in each of the classrooms.
Folding doors separated the 7th & 8th grade room from the two adjacent rooms. When these were pushed back, the 3 rooms made one large room for performances. A stage would be made by using sawhorses with boards placed on top. Maybe one of the performances would be by Mrs. Redman's (3rd & 4th grade teacher) Tonette Band that played in 2 parts - soprano and alto.
Children who lived outside the two-mile limit could ride Mr. Johnny Odom's bus to school. He owned the chassis and the school board provided the body. Benches were placed side by side along the length of the vehicle on both sides. The children's knees would touch due to the narrowness. Uncomfortable as this was it was better than for the children who had to walk in cold, rain, heat, dust or whatever. Occasionally, Mr. Odom would stall the bus and pretend that it had run out of gas - just to tease his young riders. These children, while waiting for the bus to come, would play a game called, "Hail Over" (How many of you can recall the rules?).
Cleo Hamilton, as a teacher, rode the Greyhound bus to the McDavid School in the morning and back to Century again in the afternoon. Other teachers and workers mentioned by the several contributors to this column were: Mrs. Ida Welch, Minnie Majors, Miss Edith Parker, Maggie Robertson, Sue Lamb, Thelma Wadkins, and Madeline Bowman.
At one time there was another school in something of a competition with the McDavid School for survival since the school board said that only one school could be supported in the area. The problem was settled when the Bowmanville School conveniently burned. Eventually, we hope to learn more about the Bowmanville School, but that will wait for another time.
As you can tell, we have strung together some bits and pieces of information about a one-time institution that was beloved. Now we want to get answers to some questions, corrections to any errors, and additions to the memories of former students or descendants. We think that this is an important story that is worth preserving in print so, please, get your contribution to us. The Historical Society has a responsibility to keep this kind of information for future generations, but we cannot be successful without your help.
Our special thanks to Lillian for starting all of this and to Billy R. Ward, Bill Malone, Bennie Malone and Jacqueline Freisinger. Stay tuned because there surely will be more of this.
Kevin McKinley, the writer of the column appearing in the Tri-City Ledger for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, will be our guest speaker at the next meeting of the ASHS. He's been given free reign over his choice of topics, and he said he will likely speak on the difference in economies before and after the War Between The States. Why don't you make this a priority for August 15? We meet at 7 pm in the Leach House Museum in Century's Historical District. You'll find great refreshments afterward and a chance to socialize with your friends and neighbors a bit.