Corsicana elementary schools were named for military heroes of the Alamo, of the Civil War. They were Jim Bowie, William R. Travis, Sam Houston and my grade school was Robert E. Lee Elementary. Elementary grades were kindergarten to 6; junior high, 7 and 8; high school, 9, 10 and 11. All of the students from Navarro County were bussed into the schools listed above.
My parents taught me to forget incidents that were upsetting and to be thankful for the times in my life that made me happy. An incident to be forgotten happened one Valentine's Day when I was either in kindergarten or first grade. I remember that at school everyone in the class received a Valentine except me. However, when I was in the second grade I had an emergency appendectomy. My entire class sent me letters including pictures they had drawn expressing their regret that I was ill. I am sure the second grade teacher had a lot to do with this, but the Valentine Day incident was forgotten.
An appendectomy in those days was quite serious. Mine took place at the Corsicana Hospital and Clinic which was officially opened a year before in 1927 with Dr. Shell Sr., Dr. Curtis, Dr. Logsdon, and Dr. Norwood as the presiding physicians. Dr. Shell was the attending physician who performed the surgery for my appendectomy.
I have no clue as to what prompted me to write the following letter to my mother the next year:
May 13, 1928
Since my baby days I have loved you. I am glad I had a mother when I was a baby because step-mothers can't treat babies as nice as real mothers can. I am glad I have got a mother still, and hope I keep her for a long, long time. I am not as good as could be but that is no sign I don't still love you.
Your Daughter, Virginia Lee
Starting in 1929 our family went through the depression days, as many others did; however, I don't ever remember a time we did not have enough to eat or wear. When I was six or seven, my dress shoes were high-top patent leather with five buttons that had to be buttoned with the button hook! We called them Roman Sandals. The button hook for shoes was a necessity.
Until I was in high school, most of my clothes were homemade. My mother did not sew, but she had a dressmaker, a Mrs. Highnote, who was a wonderful seamstress. I would help pick out the material for dresses and then we would take the pattern and yard goods to her and in about a week, I would have a new dress.
Two dresses that were purchased instead of being made by a local dressmaker were those I wore for Corsicana Junior High School graduation and for the baccalaureate sermon prior to Corsicana High School graduation. We had to wear white for junior high graduation. My dress was made of organdy or batiste. My picture at junior high graduation is a Kodak print as most of the pictures were in those days. My junior high graduation was at 10 a.m. Friday, May 29, 1936.
The dress I wore for my high school baccalaureate was purchased by my Great Aunt Ginny who lived in Waco. My mother and I made a trip to Waco and shopped in the downtown stores. The dress we selected was a yellow sheer that had brown embroidered flowers all through it. It also had brown velvet horizontal stripes in the skirt. The slip beneath it which could be seen through the sheer outer layer was yellow rayon satin material. I felt like one of the best dressed members of our senior class.
In high school I sang in the choir and the choir always sang at graduation. Miss Margaret Lowery, a tiny lady, was the choir director. One of the songs we sang was called A Vocal Encounter, which meant that two songs were sung together; half of the choir singing "A Spanish Cavalier" and the other half singing "Solomon Levi."
The words for A Vocal Encounter in the song book "Twice 55" at the Coshocton Public Library are:
Our tie to the world beyond Corsicana had been a crystal set which was the forerunner to the radio. There is a picture of my mother holding the head set to my not-quite one year old ears! By the time I was in school, an Atwater-Kent radio had replaced the crystal set and I would listen to "The Light Crust Dough Boys" on station WFAA in Dallas. They were a country-western group and advertised Light Crust Flour. We had lots of homework. When my peers were probably doing homework I was listening to the radio and crocheting. My grades were not failing, but were average and could have been better if I had spent as much time on studying as I did on handwork.
I hated Physical Education because we always played competitive games, which I never did like and still don't. It was easy to avoid the showers. I turned the water on hard and stood outside the shower stall fully clothed. It was a good plan until the teacher discovered my practice. Unfortunately for me the teacher played bridge with my parents....need I say more?
In 1936 when I was a freshman in high school, I joined the Travel Club. This club met after school hours and we were given an opportunity to have pen pals. I chose the name of a school teacher who lived in the Philippines. Her name was Catalina Marossaro. 1936 was the Texas Centennial Year. This gave me an opportunity to send her many newspaper clippings regarding our history as it had been 100 years since Texas had been admitted as a state in the United States. She sent me a picture of herself and other mementoes. Our correspondence continued for several years; however, I soon lost track of her as we didn't keep in touch beyond my high school days.
Aunt Carrie Zadek lived on Fourth Street across from the junior high school and that was convenient for me. I used to spend the night at her house when we went to football games and I got home late. She boarded two high school teachers - the Kiber sisters and they often accompanied us as chaperones to the ballgames. I would ride with them to Aunt Carrie's house from the train..
Our football specials were a train of passenger cars put together for fans attending the game of the year -- Corsicana-Waco. This game was well attended by not only the high school students but the community as a whole; therefore, the train had quite a few cars to accommodate everyone who wished to attend when it was played in Waco.
We had pep rallies and one year I was a member of the pep squad, the cheering section. We wore uniforms - blue wool blazers and skirts. Our blouses were gold satin. We had corsages of blue and gold carnations. The blue carnations had to be dyed by the local florist. We had hats of blue wool that resembled a military overseas' cap. I enjoyed this pep squad because it was not competitive.