It was just before our Christmas break the year I was in the 4th grade when tragedy almost struck Dora Grammar School. Mr. Evans, our principal always addressed the kids in the auditorium before class and this day appeared to be no different. The morning was cold and clear and the janitor had stoked up the fire in the old boiler room to kick up the heat in the radiators which were the only source of heat for the school. The chimney was belching smoke like the furnaces at US Steel. Then all of a sudden a thunderous crashing sound rolled through the auditorium and it had come from the back of the stage only a few feet from where Mr. Evans stood. He had been principal for ever and he never got rattled, but he was rattled that morning. When we went outside we saw where the chimney had collapsed through the roof and it was a miracle no one was injured. Had the wind been out of the north, several of us could have died. As I remember, we got out a few days while the county made repairs to the school.
The picture above was taken in 1921, but when I went to the grammar school in the early 50’s, there was a flagpole in the front yard and a swing set that would take you a good twenty feet off the ground when pushed by a one of the larger kids. Jackie Ellengburg was a good foot or two taller than most of the rest of us kids and he could push you so high on the swing set that you practically needed oxygen. I know for a fact that if you jumped out of the swing at the top of the arc, you’d definitely need a parachute. I seem to recall a large slide in the front yard too, but I can’t be sure.
In the back yard of the school, there was a baseball field and on Saturdays in the summer, you could go down to the school and watch teams play. Dora had a semi professional team that was really good. I remember one Saturday, Bobby Gant knocked 4 home runs in one game. One ball went all the way across the creek in center field. I’ve never seen a ball go that far. I also saw a guy sitting on the sideline bench (no, there were no dugouts) get whacked by a line drive baseball. The ball hit him directly on his left eye and it knocked him out cold as a tater, as my daddy used to say. When I wiggled through the crowd to get a better look, I could see marks on his face where the threads of the baseball hit him. He came to shortly afterwards and wondered what all the fuss was about… until the feeling came back into his face. I don’t think he even went to the doctor.
If any of you have stories about your school days, please share them with us.