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School is about more than Books

Hallways echo with excited voices

Schools all over the United States are beginning a new school year. Some form of the following message has been sent to students and teachers. "Welcome back to school! We are so excited to have you here and cannot wait to help make 2021-22 the best year you have ever experienced! Best wishes and best of luck to you…..have a fantastic year!” The hallways echo with excited voices and students zigzag in groups as they maneuver to the next class.

A need for instant communication

Teachers in classrooms are monitoring cellphone use and collecting cellphones when they observe students texting classmates, it’s a violation of a school rule. There seems to be a need for instant communication. Is the cellphone to blame for encouraging this. Did you get in trouble for passing a note in school? How is that different?

As excited teachers leave the buildings exhausted and overwhelmed, students leave school and flood social with pictures to show off new clothes, videos to demonstrate dance moves, and as a means to remain in communication with friends.

Enjoy a few school memories from the past.

TikTok of 1930

The TikTok and Snapchat of the 1930’s may have been standing at the map, flipping your hair, pretending to search for something while hoping the cute boy in your class noticed your new school outfit. If that didn’t work, you could stand by the water bucket posed with the dipper. Students have always found a way for social interaction, a way to be noticed. Never underestimate the value of walking to and from school in groups, peer tutoring in the one-room school, sports, outside play, field trips, and learning from peers.

School is about more than books. It is more that teaching and testing, it is not just a place to learn academics. I think we’ve always known this, we’ve all been to school and very few of our memories involve memorizing and reciting academics. Schools have always provided a safe place for students to learn to get along, navigate, and negotiate social situations.

These school memories support our title, “School is about more than books”.


Memories of Going to School

by James Edward Clemons

Can you imagine everyone in the school in one room. Students grades first through eighth sat in rows with classes grouped together, all in the same classroom. The younger children were usually on the front rows.

Scared half to death riding in a canoe to get to school.

In the 1930s there were no school buses, so you had to walk or ride a horse. The Granville School was across Martin Creek. In the winter the backwater from the Cumberland River would stay up several weeks, but they did not close school. Mr. Jim Hardcastle was the one who usually set us across in an old wooden canoe. He seated us and told us to never move; we were scared half to death. He charged each of us a nickel a day to go over and back.

“Alexa, what is the capital of Indiana? Cancel that, I’ll just Google it on my phone and I won’t have to ask you to spell it.“ Today’s students have a hard time getting through the day without relying on Alexa, Siri, or Google. The very fortunate one-room schools had a dictionary and a set of encyclopedias. Not every child had a textbook, parents were required to purchase the textbooks

Granville School gym constructed by WPA program.

At one time there were schools one room grades 1-8 schools in every little community. The grade schools all had basketball teams for boys, but I do not remember girls playing basketball in grade school. When we played different teams, we normally walked to their school, or they would come to Granville. We were the only school with a gym, the other school teams played on dirt courts. The gym at Granville was built in 1937 by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), a program that was developed during the great depression. The people in our community raised money to buy the materials, but the men from WPA did the work.

What’s that on the teacher’s desk? A Bible and a paddle, two common items found on the teacher's desk in the 1930’s that you will not find on teachers' desk today.

I remember in 1937 John W. Brown was our principal, and we had two good basketball teams. When John W. returned to Gainesboro, the players in the junior and senior class went with him. The team won the basketball championship tournament that year. This was before schools were ranked by size and districts, so we competed with all the high schools in the Cookeville district, which included about 7 counties.

Meet the author

James Edward Clemons was born on February 2,1929 on Indian Creek in the Granville Community. He was the third child born to James Michael Clemons and Hallie Mai Huff Clemons. His brother, Jesse Lon, was 12 years older and sister, Minnie Lena, 8 years older. The farm was located next to his grandparents Alonzo and Minnie Tittle Huff which was near the present location of Wildwood Resort and Marina. He was educated at the Granville Elementary School thru his freshman year. When he was young, he rode a horse to school, riding behind his older sister. Later his transportation to school, existed of riding a pony and then a bicycle. Since the farm was at the edge of Smith County and his brother was the school bus driver, he started Smith County High School in sophomore year where he was actively involved in the Future Farmers of America.

He was raised in the Granville United Methodist Church where his parents were friends of church members, Hugh and Lois McKinley. When the McKinley’s daughter was born, Hallie Mai took her eighteen-month-old son, James Edward, and went to visit the new baby, Tommie Jean McKinley. James and Tommie had a liking for each other their entire lives exemplifying a true love story. James often says that he only dated other girls until Tommie’s mother would allow him to date her. They were married on July 3, 1948 after both graduating from high school.

James has farmed, worked for the Soil Conversation Service and managed the Crop Insurance office in Carthage, and started Mid-Tenn Office equipment where he worked until retirement.

James & Tommie have two sons Randall and Barry. They have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

They have been volunteers of the Granville Museum since it was formed in 1999. James has been instrumental in the remodeling of buildings of museum, developing displays, preserving history, telling stories of Granville history and anything else that needed to be done. He also restored two tractors like ones he had on the farm and has a 1937 Chevrolet like he and Tommie had while dating.


School Memories

by Mildred Haile Carter

One mile of extreme sports activities

Extreme sports and adventurous were not words Mildred Carter used to describe her journey to and from school. Her daily routine was to walk from her house to the river, take the ferry walk through Granville slowing the pace to glance in the blacksmith shop and livery stable, walk over the big wooden bridge at the creek, and on to the school. Then, repeat the routine in the afternoon. Sounds like a mile of extreme sports activities to me!

My family lived in the first house on the opposite side of the Cumberland River from Granville. I attended Granville School for grades 1 – 10, except for finishing the second grade and the following year at Corinth School. We walked from our house to the river where we crossed by ferry or canoe. We then walked through Granville, crossed the wooden bridge across Martin Creek, and on to the school.

No reason for an announcement of weather related school closings. Dad just picked you up from your front porch and delivered you to the school by canoe.

During some years the backwater from the river would rise so high that we would get in a canoe from the front porch of our house and ride all the way to the school-grounds.

Temporary classrooms and classes meeting in auditoriums are not NEW to education.

Granville School was a large building with four classrooms: Primary-3rd grades, 4th-6th grades, 7th-8th grades, and Junior High – 9th-10th grades. Attached to each classroom was a long narrow cloakroom with open, divided cubicles with a designated space for each student to hang a coat/scarf and place a lunch basket or other belongings during the school day.

The lower grade classrooms and upper grade classrooms were separated by a very large auditorium containing a stage and rows of folding seats. On the upper grades end of the building was a library and science laboratory. One year during my early school years, we had enough students to have an additional class which met in the auditorium. At some point a separate gymnasium building was added, some distance from the school building.

Would you volunteer to clean the stove-pipes?

Each classroom and the auditorium contained a pot-bellied coal stove. The older boys in school would help clean out the stove pipes when soot accumulated and stopped them up.

I’d learn to like the taste of blue ink! Your choice, drink cool spring water that taste like blue ink from a cup made from notebook paper or drink from the shared dipper and water bucket?

The water pump on the school grounds often would break during the first week of school, and it took a considerable amount of time to get it repaired. In the meantime, some of the older boys would take a water bucket to the spring in the Williamson Hollow and bring back cold water for everyone to drink. We made drinking cups from folded sheets of notebook paper and the blue lines on the paper bled into the water. You could taste that blue ink, but the water was good and cold.

BYOB, Bring your own bowl school for eating soup. Mildred recalls the principal being very concerned about the boys who were so hungry they returned for multiple servings of soup. She was concerned about what would happen to them if the principal looked out the window.

At some point during elementary school after my younger sister, Avo, and brother, James, had started to school, we began to have hot lunches served at Granville. Lunch consisted of soup, and we had to furnish our own bowls. At lunchtime we went to the kitchen to get our food and then ate at our desk in the classroom. When I was in junior high one day Mr. Whitefield was with a visitor in the library during lunchtime. Two of the boys in the grade ahead of me went back to the kitchen many times to get refills of soup, which they then poured out the window of the classroom. I remember being concerned about what would happen to them since Mr. Whitefield could see their multiple return trips from his seat in the library!

Can you imagine the headline news, a coach transporting the volleyball team in his personal car with seven in the trunk, trunk open, and one stretched out in the rear window?

We played Red Rover, outdoor volleyball, other games, and jumped rope during recess. The elementary students did not have girls’ sports teams, but girls in the 7th and 8th grades could play on the high school teams. I played basketball and volleyball while in 7th and 8th grades. The coach loaded the volleyball team into his small, one-seat car and drove us to Liberty for a game one day. As many as could sat on the seat with him, and all the rest except for Janie Sue rode in the trunk with the trunk lid propped open. Janie Sue, the smallest of the girls, laid horizontally across the rear window.

No Need for the USO in this little town, Granville School students entertained the soldiers.

The high school students (9th-10th grades) would put on a three-act play near the end of each school year. We had costumes and I remember having my hair powdered white to play the part of a grandmother during my sophomore year. World War II maneuvers were occurring in our area; many soldiers attended our school plays and enjoyed them immensely.

Climbing fences and walking in pastures was just two miles to school. If you walked the road around the bend it was four miles to school, we took the shorter route. The teacher rode the ferry from Granville , then he joined the ten or so students and walked the shorter route to school.

In January of my second-grade year, the Cumberland River froze over and my older sister, Evelyn, and I walked to the one-room school at Corinth on our side of the river to finish out that year and the next before returning to Granville. We walked on a well-traveled path used by many people on that side of the river. We crossed our pasture, climbed over the hill, crossed the fence, and walked down through Mr. Ernest Duke’s pasture lot to the school. This was a much shorter distance than walking around the Brooks Bend Road. We were accompanied by the teacher at Corinth that year, Mr. Will Bryne Willoughby.

Imagine the wind in your hair, bugs hitting your face, dust swirling around from the dusty road, struggling to keep your balance on a bumpy road while standing in the bed of a pickup truck surrounded by twenty multi age students from your one- room school going on a field trip. It was made safer by the stock rack on the bed of the truck. There were no school buses and this was faster and safer than putting the students in a wagon pulled by mules. You could not walk the more than ten miles to Lock 8. When you realize school is more than books, you do what teachers have always done, you make it happen.

While attending Corinth, our teacher arranged for the school to go on a field trip to Lock 8 on the Cumberland River. We all stood in the bed of Mr. Sam Duke’s pickup truck for the entire trip. I remember that we were able to walk out onto the lock.

Meet the author

Mildred Haile was born on February 27, 1928, in Jackson County, Tennessee, the second of five children of L. R. and Bessie Allen Haile. After graduating from Jackson County High School in 1946, Mildred worked for a brief time in Old Hickory, Tennessee, before returning to Granville to work in the branch of the Jackson County Bank. She was married to Alton Carter in July, 1948. They raised two daughters, Carolyn and Jean, in Granville. After staying home for several years while her girls were young, she returned to work at the main office of the Jackson County Bank in 1963, and remained there until her retirement in 1993. She lived in Granville until 2012 when she moved to Cookeville, where she still resides.


As a former teacher, remembering rules against students riding in personal cars, collecting permission slips, food allergy slips, securing the bus, collecting money for the field trip, and making arrangements for lunch; I was intrigued by the description of the field trip. I called Ms. Mildred, as I call her, to ask a few questions. She remembered many details of the field trip which occurred more than eighty years ago. With excitement she recalled that day, “The truck belonged to a man in the community who had siblings in the school. The stock rack was on the truck which kept us from falling out during the ten or more miles of the trip. Everyone stood up in the bed of the truck. It was the entire school probably twenty or twenty-five students in grades 1-8. It was exciting we walked out on the lock. Lock 8 was the first lock on the Cumberland here close to us. She did not recall permission slips nor money being involved in the trip. This was the same teacher who years later put the volleyball girls in the truck of his car to transport us to a ballgame. The teacher was Ed Halfacre. “

Today, we might describe the teacher as a risk-taker or creative problem-solver but I believe he did what teachers have been doing forever, whatever it takes to provide an education for your the students.

You may schedule a field trip for students to Historic Granville for hands-on learning. We can customize the trip to your needs and the age of your students. You may call T.B. Sutton General Store 931-653-4151 or message us here on the website. During these uncertain health times, activities would be scheduled outside or in very small groups. Masks would be required inside buildings. Safety is our priority.

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I loved reading these stories. Some of them bring to my mind many of my mother’s stories of her school years. I have heard many times stories about the “school bus” that was a somewhat modified truck. Thanks for adding to her memories. She is 94 years old snd will be 95 in November.

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