Butch shares some “Old School” memories

By Butch Dale

In 1988 I wrote a book about the history of Darlington school. I interviewed hundreds of former students . . . and also several teachers, many of whom had graduated from Darlington, too. In speaking with many people through the years . . . those who graduated from the other small schools here in Montgomery County, I discovered that they have many similar memories. Here are a few of those recollections.


  • Riding to school in my first “school hack”
  • Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance each morning
  • Trying to fill my ink pen from that little glass bottle
  • Playing marbles in the dirt in front of the school building
  • Pushing my new cute little girlfriend on the swings at recess
  • Winning my first spelling bee or ciphering match
  • Playing “judge ball” every Friday afternoon in Ed Miller’s class
  • Making a Valentine box and exchanging cards at our class party
  • Participating in my first high school operetta in front of a large crowd
  • Baking my first batch of cookies in “domestic science” class
  • Receiving my gold or silver pin in typing class – an expert!
  • Attending the Mother-Daughter Tea party
  • Listening to teacher Alex Cox’s famous jokes and his stories about his kids, Joe Bob and Julia Ann
  • Carving my initials in an old wooden desk . . . oops! (But never got caught!)
  • Reciting my Latin translation to Mrs. Ainsworth, and her “look” when I was done!
  • Building a birdhouse in Merton Stwalley’s shop class . . . what fun!
  • Rehearsing our class play with teacher Reggie Surface
  • Marching out the front door each afternoon as the Victrola played or Mae Hunt Cox played the piano
  • Listening to President Roosevelt on the radio declaring war on Japan


  • Having my first grade teacher Lucille Cox pull my tooth . . . such a sweet lady . . . I loved her
  • Listening to Mrs. Peterson read the Little House on the Prairie books in 3rd grade, and Mr. Brown read The Sugar Creek Gang books in 6th grade
  • Having our hair, fingernails and teeth inspected by the row monitor in Audrey Cox’s 4th grade class
  • Receiving my very first basketball uniform in 5th grade and making a basket in my first game
  • Washing the blackboard and being selected to clean the erasers on the electric eraser cleaner down in the furnace room
  • Singing a solo at my first Christmas program and my minister delivering a closing prayer
  • Being forced to read my secret “love note” in front of the entire class . . . how embarrassing!
  • Attending my first “pep session” with the high school students . . . so exciting . . . I wanted to be a cheerleader!
  • Buying ice cream in the “subway,” and then dancing to 45 rpm records in the gym at noon
  • Receiving my boyfriend’s ring at the Ben-Hur drive-in, and wrapping it with angora yarn
  • Learning to play the song flute in 6th grade, and then later on, in high school, receiving my new band uniform
  • Going to the restaurant downtown with all the gang after a basketball game . . . everyone celebrating after a big win!
  • Doing our homework in the wooden booths at Arthur Friend’s drug store . . . always had a fountain drink and chips on hand
  • Wearing my new pair of saddle oxfords, or white buck shoes, or penny loafers, and yes, even “Beatle boots”
  • As a freshman, performing the skit for my “Master” for initiation day in front of the entire school assembly
  • Hearing over the intercom the report of President Kennedy’s assassination . . . there was total silence, and then some girls started crying
  • Receiving our class rings and sweaters, and wearing our Senior cords and skirts
  • Having our class photo taken in front of the covered bridge . . . and crying at commencement . . . then our “Senior trip” . . . our last time together as a class

The class sizes were small, and the kids all came from middle class families, and shared the same experiences. As former Darlington student Terry Cain stated, “The main advantage of Darlington School was the closeness of the students with one another and the great amount of school spirit by the students and faculty . . . All of the people associated with Darlington were good, fine people. I will always have fond memories of all my friends, students, and teachers.”

First grade teacher Lucille Cox once told me, “I will always remember my teaching at Darlington, and I treasure all the memories of my children I’ve had in the classroom. I feel like a grandmother to all of the school . . . the school that I love.”

Yes, those of you who were students or teachers at the small schools here in our county . . . have those memories forever.

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.