This picture of me was made when I was about 4 years old. It was made in the Belmont Hotel by a photographer from Olin Mills. I remember having it made. I was more fascinated by the interior of the hotel than I was by the camera. I thought it was the biggest building in the world. The world to me was my neighborhood.
This is a picture of me that was made by Mr. Hays in the spring of 1958 before I graduated from high school. His studios were located on the square on the second floor of one of the buildings in the vicinity of the old Bank of Abbeville office. I remember going there to have this picture made. Mr. Hays supplied the gown and the fake diploma. I can see that I was proudly wearing my AHS ring. It was so cool when we got our rings that senior year. We could get them in various weights. I remember saving a little money by not getting the heaviest ring.
Growing up in Abbeville in the '40s and '50s was an idyllic experience, to say the least. I never remember hearing anything about the partisan politics that seems to permeate and divide our society today. For sure, there was a racial divide in Abbeville. But I was never aware of it until after I left.
We didn't have a TV set until the first month of my 8th grade in school. Before then, I thought that Columbia was the capital of the world. My father, who worked for the state health department, used to send the heads of dogs suspected of being rabid to Columbia for tests. He had a special mailer box to mail the heads in. I remember going to Columbia with him once. I thought the state health department building was the biggest building on earth.
When we got our TV set in '53, my eyes were exposed to the external world. I remember seeing coverage of the McCarthy Hearings and the news reports on what would lster become known as the Viet Nam War. At that time, I was more interested in seeing "Sky King," "Superman," "The Lone Ranger," "Howdy Doody," and other kids shows.
Some of my teachers that I am grateful to are as follows:
1st Grade - Mrs. Willie Mars
2nd Grade - Mrs. Cox
3rd Grade - Mrs. Cheatham
4th Grade - Miss E. Black, later to become Mrs. E. Singleton
5th Grade - Miss Mary McComb, Ms. M. A. Barnette
6th Grade - Miss E. Felkel (home room)
7th Grade - Miss Annie Hill (home room)
8th Grade - Miss. Margia Brissie (home room)
9th Grade - Mrs. Mary Brown (home room)
10th Grade - Mrs. Mary Beaty (home room)
11th Grade - Miss Clara Lee McComb (home room)
12th Grade - Miss Fannie DuPre (home room)
I have the report card for all of my grades from 1 through 12. This is a copy of my 7th grade card. Most of my report cards were not this good. My homeroom teacher was Miss Annie Hill. She lived with her sister Mary and brother Ben in a large two story house with columns just off Magazine St. on Secession Ave. She taught me in the 6th and 7th grades. When I was younger, I remember my mother and I visiting the Misses Hill one Wednesday when my mother had the afternoon off from her job at Belk's. I remember being so fascinated by a small table fan that Miss Mary gave it to me. I used that fan for over 10 years until no amount of "3-In-One" oil would revive it. Their front yard was a garden of manicured boxwood shrubs that were sculptured into mazes that I loved to run around. When one visited them, they served iced tea in crystal glasses with linen (never paper) napkins.
Miss Hill was a great English teacher. There was a rumor that anyone sitting on the front two rows of her class should bring an umbrella. It was said that she would shower the front rows with spittle. That was a reputation she did not deserve, because I sat on the front row and I found it was not true. I remember the day that history teacher Mr. Hill (no relation to Miss Hill) came to ask her how to fold an 8.5" by 11" business letter for an envelope that was about 6" or 7" wide. Miss Hill promptly showed him and the class how to fold the letter. I have never forgotten how to do it.
Mr. Hill was probably the only teacher I had in Abbeville who I truly disliked. I was terrified by him. On the first history test that he gave to us, I made 76. The test was returned on Friday, and he did his best to belittle those of us who made lower than 80. As punishment, he made us transcribe a chapter from the book to notebook paper and turn it in on the following Monday. I literally spent all weekend copying that chapter from the book. It was the last time that he made me do that. Mr. Hill made me hate history.
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