I still have the first dictionary I ever owned. Ms. Wanza Sharp gave it to me in fourth grade. It was missing both front and back covers, and the first and last few pages were missing. I still have it safely tucked away in my home library archives. The dictionary is precious because it was one of the first books I ever owned, and Ms. Wanza, one of my all-time heroes both in and out of the classroom, gave it to me. Also, I spent many a day playing school with that wonderful volume.
This is the third 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; and from available school registers on file at the Union County Board of Education.
Not so long ago I had a conversation with Union County Mayor Dr. Jason Bailey.
His Honor and I were discussing his late grandfather Elmer Bailey, who was the son of a good friend of my father, Jim Bailey. I was aware that Elmer lived in the old Rose Hill School.
Jason offered me the opportunity to visit the old school—a thrilling venture for me—as there are very few of the old one- and two-room schoolhouses left.
The front of Tennessee school registers in the 1940s had the following note on the bottom of the front cover:
NOTE: This register is the property of the State of Tennessee. Each classroom teacher must keep the Register neatly and accurately according to instructions, completely fill in all data, and return the Register at the close of the school term to the office of the principal or county superintendent to be filed before the teacher’s salary for the last month can be drawn. It becomes an important official record for the school. PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.
Joe Pat McDonald smiles when he remembers his mother, the late Winnie McDonald.
And it's not surprising that he does. Mrs. McDonald passed away 15 years ago at the age of 95, but in those years she touched so many lives as a teacher, author and the Union County Historian. Joe Pat remembers growing up with Mrs. McDonald, his father the late Tad McDonald, and sister Sharon, in Sharps Chapel and later Maynardville. His mother, he said, had a great love of language, reading and poetry, and she loved all of her students, too.
Tennessee Williams once penned a play entitled “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. There was a 1958 movie based on this play starring Elizabeth Taylor (as Maggie Politt), Paul Newman (as Brick), Burl Ives (as Big Daddy), Larry Gates (as Dr. Baugh), and several others. Liz Taylor, who died of congestive heart failure at age 79 in 2011,
I first knew him when I was about three or four years old as my father’s friend and co-worker. One Christmas when my family lived in one of Jessie Buckner’s rental houses on Academy Street in downtown Maynardville, he sent me a Tonka™ truck. He sent me scraps of wood from his carpentry to play with. When one of the small schoolhouses closed down upon its consolidation into one of the county’s larger elementary schools, he sent me a canvas bag of building blocks. He never knew the countless hours of joy playing with those blocks gave me.
Take one step into Dr. Ronnie Mincey's office in the Union County Public Schools' central office, and his role model will be obvious. Pictures and portraits of President Abraham Lincoln cover every surface, including the one pictured here, which Mincey describes as "the most comforting picture," a gift from Donnie Tharpe.
"You can look at it and think, 'What would you do if you were in this predicament?'" Mincey said.