I grew up in the 1940s about a block from West Side School that was once located at the southeast corner of Main Street and Watauga Avenue. I attended the first grade there in 1949-50 under the watchful eye of my teacher, Miss Mildred Taylor. A Johnson City Chronicle dated May 3, 1947 contained a news item that aroused my interest by mentioning several names that I recognize.
Miss Eleanor Robertson, teacher at Training School of East Tennessee State College, was the speaker at the May meeting of the school’s School Parent-Teacher Association. The educator chose as her theme, “Relation of the Child to the Parent,” listing love, respect for work, honesty and obedience as the four fundamental principles for training children. She stressed that youngsters need positive models rather than negative critics.
The 4-F children, as she defined them, experienced “firmness, fondness, fun and fairness.” She concluded her talk by reading an interesting old poem that has been heavily quoted over the years titled, “The Child’s Appeal,” by Mamie Gene Cole:
“I am the child. All the world waits for my coming. All the earth watches with interest to see what I shall become. Civilization hangs in the balance. For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be.
“I am the child. I have come into your world, about which I know nothing. Why I came I know not. How I came I know not. I am curious; I am interested.
“I am the child. You hold in your hand my destiny. You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fail. Give me, I pray you, those things that make for happiness. Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world.”
Following the speech, Mrs. Roy Webb gave the secretary’s report; Mrs. Joe Bettini, in the absence of Mrs. William Cox, read the treasurer’s report. During the devotional period, each member of the group read a Bible verse. Miss Georgia Tomlinson gave the membership information, stating that West Side had received the Gold Leaf Award for having 100 percent attendance.
Other chairpersons providing concise reports included Mrs. Earl Gentry (finance), Miss Ruth Martin (school lunch), Mrs. Lester Bowman (founder’s day, my aunt), Mrs. Maude Meek (music, spiritual education), J.H. Mahoney (principal, program chairman), Mrs. H.R. Deere (art), Miss Mildred Taylor (child welfare), Miss Carrie Lu Yoakley (building and grounds) and Miss Mildred Adams (procedure, by-laws).
Mrs. Primus Dees (wife of my former downtown barber, president of Central PTA council), conducted the installation ceremonies for the following new officers and positions: Mrs. Roy Webb, president; Mrs. Glen Maupin, vice president; Mrs. Ralph Hamley, secretary, and Mrs. Joe Bettini, treasurer; Mrs. Mildred Lawson, program; Mrs. Fred Deneen, publications; Mrs. D.V. Paradis, publicity and scrapbook; Mrs. H.W. Cassing, summer round-up; Miss Carrie Lu Yoakley, child welfare; Mrs. R.Y. Foster, school lunch; Mrs. Howard Hartsell, buildings and grounds; Mrs. Harry Johnson, finance; Mrs. Earl Gentry, hospitality; Mrs. Lester Bowman, founder’s day; Mrs. Harold Dyer, study course; Mrs. Harry Yeager, membership; and Mrs. H.R. Deere, spiritual education.
It was announced that the Central Council would meet on May 23 at 2:30 p.m. at Mayne Williams Library and that the Mother’s Day Arts and Crafts Club would convene in the Girl’s Club Room at the First Presbyterian Church on June 4 at 2 p.m.
Graduation exercises for the sixth grade class were scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 26 at the school followed by a class party. It was also reported that the luncheon for teachers would be held at noon on Wednesday, May 28.
The meeting concluded with Mrs. Nathan Holley winning the attendance prize and Miss Georgia Tomlinson’s third grade class receiving the room-count prize.