Wood Dale V

This is the fifth and last of a series of articles on the history of Wood Dale School in Union County, Tennessee.
In the first article I shared information about Wood Dale School from 1900 through the depression years to 1940 as related in Our Union County Heritage: A Historical and Biographical Album of Union County—People, Places, Events by Kathleen George Graves and Winnie Palmer McDonald (© 1978 Josten’s); Ms. Bonnie Heiskell Peter’s book Union County Schoolday Memories: A Pictorial History of Union County Elementary Schools From the mid-1800’s to the 1960s (© 1999); and from available school registers on file at the Union County Board of Education.
In the second article I shared information about Wood Dale School during the World War II years (1940 through 1945) as related in available school registers on file at the Union County Board of Education.
The third article commenced with the school year beginning August 6, 1945, through March 29, 1946. In that article I shared information about Wood Dale School through the post-World War II years (1945 through 1949) as related in available school registers on file at the Union County Board of Education.
The fourth article continued the discussion of Wood Dale School from the term that began on August 8, 1949, to the following term which ended on May 4, 1951. In that article I shared information about Wood Dale School for school years 1949-50 and 1950-51 as related in available school registers on file at the Union County Board of Education. I also referenced Anna Lou Nicely Dyer’s obituary as published on May 23, 2016, in the Knoxville News Sentinel.
This final article will discuss Wood Dale from the term beginning August 13, 1951. That term saw highly esteemed Joe H. Davis once again return to Wood Dale to serve as teaching principal for grades and subjects 4 through 8. He was to remain at Wood Dale continuously through school year 1958-59. His partner for grades 1 through 3 for 1951-52 was Edna Inez Thomas. Anna Lou Nicely Dyer returned to Wood Dale to replace Ms. Thomas for the term beginning August 25, 1952 and ending May 13, 1953. (Because she could not find a babysitter, Ms. Dyer noted in her register that Mary R. Thomas substituted for her for 16 days that term, dates unspecified.) Kathleen Bailey replaced Anna Lou Dyer for the term beginning August 10, 1953, and remained for three years, through the term ending May 15, 1956.
Joyce Braden was employed to replace Ms. Bailey for the term beginning August 13, 1956, and ending May 10, 1957. For the last four terms beginning August 19, 1957, through the school’s final term that ended May 25, 1961, Wood Dale had only one teacher. Joe Davis served 1957-58 and 1958-59. Edna Inez Capps served 1959-60. She recorded as one of her Classroom Objectives for her students during school year 1959-60, “To teach them [the children] as I would want my own child taught.” Her Annual Summary of Progress Toward Achieving Objects that same year reads, “I have done the best of my abilities toward working with the children and Careing (sic) for the school property.” Joe Davis returned for the school’s final year in 1960-61.
For many decades, there was very little change in the operation of rural school districts. Things began to change noticeably after World War II. Mr. Davis listed as an objective in his register for 1953-54 to “wire the house for electricity.” This was accomplished the following school year, as noted by him in his Annual Summary of Progress Toward Achieving Objectives for school year 1954-55:
“For the school year we have been able to achieve many of our objectives and have been able to achieve some things we had hardly hoped for at the beginning. We were lucky enough to get our school building painted inside and out, Improve the school grounds, Electricity installed, a new teacher’s desk [Edna Inez Thomas noted in 1951-52 as an achieved objective “Sandpapered and painted teacher’s desk”], a Refrigerator, new window shades, a book case and a globe.”
Ms. Kathleen Bailey’s Annual Summary of Progress Toward Achieving Objectives for the same year is interesting when compared with that of her co-teacher and principal Mr. Davis:
“Many of the object (sic) were achieved. Our school was painted inside and had one outside coat of paint. [Did Ms. Bailey think it needed at least one additional coat?] Electricity was put in and we got our refridgerator (sic) and took the milk program. We, in the 1-4 grades got shades and a new book shelf and also a new teacher’s desk. We did not get the badly needed seats. We also got several things for recreation.”
It is hard for me to imagine that my surviving siblings who attended Wood Dale, now in their late 70s and early 80s, experienced most of their school years with no electricity. My older, now deceased siblings attended the school when it had no electricity, and I don’t believe any of them ever attended any school other than Wood Dale.
Though some would have hailed installation of electricity at the school as a great accomplishment, there are many, I’m sure, who at the time of installation would have thought electricity a (possibly unnecessary) luxury, as many homes had neither electrical service nor telephones (only one student was recorded in the 1956-57 school register as having a home telephone).
Disgruntled community members who themselves attended Wood Dale before electricity might have reasoned that school was held during daylight hours, and they did just fine without electricity. Electricity was not necessary for either heating (used ordinary stove), drinking (hand operated water on grounds—no pumps or water fountains), or sanitation (two outdoor toilets).
Mr. Davis, though thrilled his school had electricity, still noted in his Teacher’s Annual Property Report that lighting, as well as the outdoor toilets, continued to be unsatisfactory. (Mr. Davis reported in his 1956-57 register that new lights were installed “in our classroom.”) An additional benefit that electricity brought to Wood Dale was the acquisition of a refrigerator and the ability to participate in the milk program, an amazing innovation for the lunch program for this small rural school.
Mr. Davis’ overwhelming satisfaction with the accomplishments of school year 1954-55 is touchingly reflected in his recorded School Objectives for 1955-56:
“We were so successful in getting things done last year that we are more or less inclined to sit back and enjoy the things accomplished this year. However as school gets under way I am sure we will develop some new objectives.”
And marvelous things continued to happen at Wood Dale. Mr. Davis noted in his Annual Summary of Progress Toward Achieving Objects for 1955-56: “One of our greatest additions to the school this year was the complete set of “The Book of Knowledge.”
A noteworthy aspect of small rural schools is evidenced by the progress achieved at Wood Dale. In many rural schools, the focus was on acquiring the essential, basic needs for facilities, materials and supplies to operate. Once these needs were met, improving students’ education could receive more intense focus.
Mr. Davis wrote the following for his Classroom Objectives for the 1955-56 school year: “This year we hope to use some of the things we worked on in our inservice training to get better results in the classrooms.”
Another sweeping change affecting rural schools during the turbulent times of the Korean and Viet Nam war era was a seemingly national movement to consolidate small rural schools into larger facilities.
This movement in Union County eventually concluded in the early 1970s in the closing or consolidation of all the district’s small schools into four larger schools: Big Ridge, Luttrell, Maynardville and Sharps Chapel.
There are undoubtedly several factors that contributed to this consolidation: increased concern for student safety; improved math and science instruction during the war years; lessened possibility of fire in older, wooden buildings (Mr. Davis described the building in his 1954-55 Property Report as “Semi-Fire Resistive”); improved transportation; decreased operating/maintenance costs for a smaller number of schools; and opportunity to provide more varied curricular offerings in larger schools.
Mr. Davis’ Record of Year’s Work in his 1956-57 register vaguely referenced continuing concerns at Wood Dale.
“At the beginning of school the picture before us looked very dark. But with hard work and much overtime work soon things began to look brighter and at the close of school we feel that it has been a fairly successful year all the students made passing grades except four who were sick much of the time or was absent for other reasons.”
Undoubtedly, major deciding factors favoring the trend toward consolidation in rural areas were high retention rates and poor attendance in the small, outlying schools. This trend is exemplified by Wood Dale’s enrollment:
( See chart below )
Ultimately, consolidation seemed a factor in its own progression as some parents wanted their children to attend newer, safer schools and benefit from the latest educational amenities. Conversely, in seasons of change, there are always those who cling to the traditions of the past and wish their offspring to have the same nostalgic joys and experiences they had during their own school years. Mr. Davis in his Record of Year’s Work in 1957-58 references “a fairly good 4-H club” conducted regularly by Mr. Julian and Mrs. Alford, the county and home agents.
He also referenced: “Miss Campbell a representative of the Children’s Bible Mission had a program at our school each month. Many of the Students did memory work from the Bible and received prizes for their efforts.”
There is a question that arises from Wood Dale’s 1956-57 registers. Mr. Davis completed the Teacher’s Personnel Record with his information in both his and Ms. Braden’s registers for that school year. As noted above, Wood Dale’s enrollment declined sharply this school year.
The Record of the Year’s Work in Ms. Braden’s register appears to be in Mr. Davis’ handwriting: “With thirty four students and eight grades and one teacher we were at a great disadvantage with most of the other schools. But we worked hard and over time and accomplished more than we thought possible at the beginning. I think most all students made fairly good progress.”
It is likely that Wood Dale began the year with two teachers but was only able to retain one due to the low student population. Union County Board of Education minutes reflect that Joe Davis and Joyce Braden were employed as principal and teacher respectively on August 3, 1956.
Ms. Braden is not mentioned again in the Board minutes. Her personnel card on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office lists her teaching certificate type as Emergency.
Item 25 of the Union County Board of Education Minutes for the August 2, 1958, called meeting states: “Discussion on Wood Dale School. Board agreed to transfer students and teacher at Wood Dale School to Brocks School if Wood Dale does not have the necessary enrollment.”
Item 5 of the September 13, 1956, board minutes noted “that it was illegal to operate [a] school with either state or local funds when the average daily attendance drops below 10.”
Wood Dale remained open for the 1958-59 and succeeding two terms but was never again to have two teachers. Still, hope for the future continued.
Future years saw continuing objectives to “increase our average daily attendance.”
Mr. Davis recorded in his 1957-58 register: “We have saved Fifty dollars to … put water in the school room,” though the registers do not reflect this was ever accomplished.
Objectives for 1958-59 included organizing a PTA and adding “some extra activities to the school Such as Friday afternoon programs in which the parents are invited.” Some Friday afternoon programs did occur, and Mr. Davis noted with enthusiasm (evidenced by his use of an exclamation mark) that “many of the parents attended!”
Lonely though he might have been as Wood Dale’s sole teacher for all save one of its last few years of operation, it seems fitting that Joe H. Davis was the teaching principal to close the school at the conclusion of the 1960-61 school year, the school at which he had taught for so much of his life.
It is not clear when the actual decision to close Wood Dale occurred. At the Union County Board of Education meeting held on Saturday, July 29, 1961, Joe Davis was re-employed to serve at Wood Dale. At the next Board meeting held on September 14, 1961, he was transferred to Brocks School, and the Board approved a motion “to sell the coal at Wood Dale School for price per ton cost less amount necessary to pick up and deliver to another school.”
Davis was employed for Brocks again on March 8, 1962, but was transferred to Nave Hill on July 30, 1962, for 1962-63. He was reassigned to Nave Hill by Board action on March 12, 1964, March 11, 1965, and March 10, 1966.
There is always sadness when a community institution such as the local school closes forever. Of the reported 39 total years of Davis’ service as teacher as reported on his personnel cards on file at the Union County Board of Education, at least 24 were served at Wood Dale.
Mr. Davis’ register for 1951-52 indicates that he taught two years prior to his first recorded year of experience at Brocks (1922-23).
Though no records indicating employment are on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office before 1932, Union County Schoolday Memories lists Joe Davis as having taught at Wood Dale School in 1917-18.
He continued teaching five years after Wood Dale closed. Every year after age 65, all teachers were required to request continued employment from the Board of Education. Item 8 of the Union County Board of Education minutes for April 15, 1961, reads: “Discussion on retirement request of Joe Davis who will be 65 years old in October 1961. Mr. [Cecil H.] Butcher, Chairman, wanted some time to consider this request.”
This issue does not again appear in Board minutes until March 8, 1962, when a motion was made and carried “to employ Joe Davis in the Union County Schools even though he has reached the retirement age of 65 years.”
A testament to his many years of devoted and successful service as teacher and principal in several of its public schools, Mr. Davis was granted this continued privilege as recorded in the board minutes on the following dates: March 14, 1963; March 12, 1964; March 11, 1965; and March 10, 1966. Joe Davis retired from teaching at the end of the 1966-67 school year at age 70.
As the school registers and memories of those who taught and were schooled there testify, Wood Dale was more than a school. For some of its students, it was the only school they would ever attend.
It might also have been the only place some students heard the Gospel. (Teacher Edna Inez Thomas listed as one of her objectives in 1951-52 “to get . . . a Bible.”) Joe Davis recorded in Wood Dale’s final school register for school year 1960-61 the following as the school objectives: “We shall strive to promote the individual needs of the children: to strive to maintain an amicable relationship among the people of the community, the Superintendent and the Board of Education.”
In those bygone days when there were few if any federal funds to support public education, Wood Dale was a community center where educational activities such as spelling bees and social activities such as a “horse shoe (f)etching[?] game” and pie suppers were held both for community fellowship and to raise funds for the improvement of school facilities by the addition of bookcases, books, bulletin boards, maps, window shades/curtains, plants, mirrors, building maintenance, water/toiletry needs and playground equipment.
To its students, it was more than just a place of learning — it held the pleasant memories of ball games with neighboring school Nave Hill, school picnics, art activities, holiday celebrations, friendships, first love, pranks played — of perhaps harder but still happy lifetimes of childhood and adolescent development. It also held the not so fond memories of fights and paddlings, both experienced and witnessed.
Item 16 of the minutes of the March 14, 1963 meeting of the Union County Board of Education reads as follows: “Motion Butcher, second Davis, to advertise and sell Wood Dale School at Public Auction at 12:00 O’Clock, April 16, 1963, and an executive session of board instructed to approve or reject the sale. Motion Carried.”
My sister Helen Mincey Phillips once showed me the place where Wood Dale stood. She recalled the site of the playground. A house now stands on the old school site, and I understand the lumber from the school was used in construction of the house. The sounds of children striving to learn and recite lessons are heard at the former school site no more, the old playground is now part of a lawn, many if not all of its teachers have passed from this earth, and many of the students who were schooled there have joined their teachers and each other in eternity; yet Wood Dale still lives in the hearts and minds of its remaining students and will forever remain as a significant part of Union County heritage.

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We had a heavy snow storm this last end of December 2020. The power would go out for a few seconds, then suddenly return with a “Bang!” I feared for our TV's and computer, but they survived the ordeal. Our electric coffee pot? Not so much. That was the end of Mr. Coffee.

Easy Bean Dip

Forget calorie counting when you dip your taco chip into this tasty mixture. But who's counting calories anyway. Make a bowl full to munch on while you are watching that movie on TV tonight. Stir it up and keep it in the fridge until the movie starts.

Events

Strengthening Families

Monday, March 8, 2021 - 12:00

The Strengthening Families Program has NEW virtual parenting classes starting in March! This is a FREE parenting education course for parents and caregivers, with additional "coached" home assignments for parents to work on strengthening relationships with their children. Classes in March will begin March 8th and 9th. Please see the links belong to register.

Monday's Afternoon Class: https://tnvoices.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUoc-mpqjwpGNAmv138rKJjzgSLQi...

Obituary

Karen Hensley Brown

Karen Hensley Brown-age 52 of Maynardville passed away Sunday morning, February 21, 2021 at Parkwest Medical Center. She was a member of Jim Town Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Larry E., Sr. and Carolyn Kitts Hensley; brother, Larry E. Hensley, Jr.
Survivors: husband, Tony Brown; daughters, Kasey (Doug) Crawford, Ashley (Ryan) Brown; step-daughter, Amanda (Jay) Thomas; son, Shane (Megan) Brown; grandchildren, Trina Crawford, Jase Crawford, Vincin Kingrey, Jacob Thomas, Mason Thomas, Josh Thomas, Bella Thomas and one on the way.

Cecil D. Helton

Cecil D. “Dob” Helton-age 88 of Washburn took his Heavenly flight to be with the Lord 11:19 P.M. Friday, February 19, 2021 at his home surrounded by his family. He was a lifelong member of Elm Springs Missionary Baptist Church where he served as a deacon since 1988 and spent his life helping others as well as his dedication to serving the Lord. He was preceded in death by parents, Anderson and Mary Jane Helton along with eight brothers and three sisters.

Ella Mae Roberts

Ella Mae Roberts-age 88 of Knoxville (formerly of Corryton) passed away Thursday, February 18, 2021 at her home. She was a member of Nehemiah Church. She was a devoted Christian who served the Lord, alongside of her husband, in Christian ministry over several decades. She leaves an incredible legacy of service and love for others for all of us to follow. She was a dedicated employee of the Halls Wal-Mart, Jewelry Department, retiring after 15 years of service.

Tommy Wolfenbarger

Tommy Edward Wolfenbarger-age 63 of Luttrell went to be with the Lord Wednesday morning, February 17, 2021 at his home. He was of the Baptist faith and was an avid animal lover. Preceded in death by daughter, Dana Wolfenbarger; father, Troy Edward Wolfenbarger; brother, Richard Wolfenbarger; step-father, George Lee; brother-in-law, Bo Slagle

Betty Lou Chesney

Betty Lou “Ludy” Chesney-age 88 of Luttrell passed away peacefully Friday morning, February 19, 2021 at her home. She was a lifelong member of Black Fox Primitive Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Horace and Bertha Chesney; siblings, Roy, Frank, Dick and Mary Chesney, Gladys and Rob Farmer, Kate and Rub Larmer and brother-in-law, Gene Dyer.

Surviving siblings, special sister, Daisy Dyer; brother, Bill and Dolly Chesney. Several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews.

Deadrick "Rick" Croxdale

Deadrick “Rick” Croxdale, Jr. – age 60 of Maynardville, passed away February 17, 2021. He was a member of American Christian Church. Rick was an assistant golf pro at Oak Ridge Country Club.

He is preceded in death by parents, Deck and Inez Croxdale. Rick is survived by his wife of 33 years, Vicky (Langley) Croxdale; stepdaughter, Mandy (Craig) Chaffins; grandchildren, Nick and Elijah Chaffins; sister, Norma (Ken) Brown; nephew, Paul (Cindy) Newman; and grand nieces, Nicole, Ashley and Haley.

Monroe Alex Brown

Monroe Alex Brown-age 74 of Maynardville passed away Saturday, February 6, 2021 at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. He was a retired patent Attorney. Born in New Jersey, he was the son of the late Grant and Florence Jacobson Brown.

Private interment 9:30 a.m. Saturday, February 20, 2021, Lakeview Cemetery, Lenoir City. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

James E. Kessinger

James Edward Kessinger-age 88 of Washburn passed away suddenly Tuesday morning, February 16, 2021 at North Knoxville Medical Center. U. S. Army Veteran. He was a retired truck driver and loved to fish on Norris Lake and he enjoyed playing guitar with his friend, Billy Joe Nicely. Jim was a dual member of Powell Lodge #582 F & AM in Powell and Robinson-Plumb Lodge #266 in Kentucky. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite in Louisville, Kentucky and a Shriner. He was preceded in death by parents, Slaughter Francis and Bertha Ann Kessinger; son, Wesley Kessinger.

Margaret Bowles

Margaret Lynn Bowles – age 83 of Maynardville, born November 26, 1937, went to her Heavenly home, February 16, 2021 at home with her family. She was saved at a young age and is a member of Macedonia Baptist Church.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.