A Last Look at Dear Old Minden High School

School days remembered

A look at the yesteryears of ‘Dear old Minden High’

Compliments of Juanita Agan and the Minden Press-Herald

Photograph's at the bottom are compliments of Ann Mays Harlan

Next Saturday, July 9, we will be allowed to once again, for the last time, walk through the halls and rooms of the 1924 High School Building. This generation calls it the “old building” and I suppose it is old. Since I am a year older than it is, I guess I qualify for being old, too. And so our old high school building is scheduled to be torn down this summer and a new building erected in its place. The building may be gone, but not the memories, some sad, some happy, some funny.

For me it will be a sad trip down memory lane, a sad trip because many of the ones who made it so special are dead and have been dead for decades. This old building is a memorial to my childhood, the Class of 1939, and the friends and teachers who made life a happy time. My high school years were happy years, because we had wonderful teachers that made learning fun. They loved us into learning.

The old building of Minden High will be open for the last time Saturday.

The Entrance

As I enter the front entrance I remember when the parapets were much higher, in fact when you sat on them your feet hardly touched the ground. When the old (to us) 1910 building was raised the lot was graded down and the dirt filled in on the front of the 1924 building. That made the parapets much lower.

As I pass the columns out front I remember the morning we came to school to find the front of the building where the limestone columns were had been painted red overnight. It was a mystery that no one would talk about. It cost the School Board a lot of money to have the sandstone columns on the front sanded down to get rid of the red paint. Wonder who did that painting? (Nobody will tell, including me.)

The Principal’s Office

On the right was the principal’s office where Mr. Emmons was along with his secretary.
I was not sent there for discipline purposes, but for academic reasons. Mr. Emmons was always dressed immaculately, and was almost “prissy” in his demeanor. He demanded and expected excellence from all his students, both academically and on the sports area. On the left on the wall was the drummer boy picture painted by Ben Earl Looney. I remember it vividly being there, but classmates tell me that before it hung there in the thirties, earlier it was on the wall in the library.


If you walked straight ahead you would enter the auditorium. Many memories from that room, prominent among them would be the high school graduation exercises. Someone built risers for the stage so that we could all be seated and all be seen. My graduation dress was pink dimity with a square neck back and front. The risers were close together and I remember the fern in the bouquet the girl behind me held ticked my neck. It was all that I could do to sit still as the fern moved across my neck. It was a hot night and I “itched” from that fern. I was so surprised and so shocked, but so happy to hear my name called as the recipient of the American Legion Award.

The Classrooms

Now if you took the left hall instead of going into the auditorium, Miss Ruby Craton and Mr. J. B. Leftwich had their class rooms on that end of the first floor. Miss Craton made History just about my favorite subject. She was such a sweet person, always with a smile on her face, and such an excellent teacher. Mr. J. B. Leftwich was far ahead of his time in teaching methods when he put into practice the lessons we learned in Biology. We learned of filling the decay in trees and helping them to live longer. He had us scoop out the decay and mix up cement and fill the hole. The trees lived and continued to grow. He had us research many subjects, write a paper, and deliver it to the class. Today that might be considered an “Accelerated Class.” My memories of these teachers are such happy memories.

And then, if you took the right you would find both Mrs E. L. Lyon and Miss Bettie Nolen’s class rooms. Both were thorough teachers and we felt that we had learned a lot under their guidance. Mrs. Lyon taught both English and Literature and she had an endless assortment of stories, some we almost could not believe. She took a particular joy in “deviling” me, and on one occasion when we left the class, she pulled me back, hugged me and told me that she loved me and that was why she was always singling out me for her questions. Miss Nolen was a Mathematics teacher. I remember that she piled her long hair high on her head and secured it with tortoise shell hair pins. During the day the pins would work loose and her hair would relax into soft waves. She was so funny and I remember she said that the reason some could not understand the principles of mathematics that she taught was because they did not have anything to hang the knowledge on. In other words they did not have a brain. I can just hear her saying “Oh, you have got it all piggledy wiggledy.” She taught me two years of Algebra.

The Second Floor

Upstairs Mrs. R. A. Baker, Miss Kuma Shealy, Miss Mary Annie Wall and Miss Mary Bell had their classrooms. There are so many stories that I could tell you of each of the teachers. Mrs. Baker was such a gentle teacher, but such a kind and loving person. Now Miss Wall had an eye problem, and I was not sure if she was talking to me as her eyes were crossed. But she taught us the “meter” of verse, and I can still hear her as she beat out Iambic Pentameter which was the meter we were studying. She would say “the stag at eve’......had drunk his fill’.........where danced the moon’ ......on Monan’s rill”. I still can hear, and I notice the meter of poetry today because of her. Miss Bell was such a tiny teacher, very short. She was also a kind person. We have all known about the wonderful Christian lady Miss Shealy was. She kept a Bible on the corner of her desk. She had a particular problem in Geometry that she called the “bridge of fools” and if you did not get that problem you were “sunk.” They expected “much” of us and we came through for them. They taught. I loved each of these teachers and still remember many of the things they taught us.

Miss Phillips was the librarian. She believe in strict discipline and we could not make a single sound in that library without her glaring at us or calling us down. I was scared to death of her. However, she taught Library Science to Freshmen and I have used that knowledge all my life. She taught well.

Sentimental Value

These were the days of the “Great Depression” and life was not easy for many of us, but we coped and came out of the deprivation stronger, better people.

Just as I feel when an old friend dies and the funeral is held, I realize that the building is old and it is not feasible to repair it, but I cannot keep from shedding a tear when I think of its demise.

So many young people walked through those halls, and went out to bless the world in so many professions, as well as most of the girls being wives and mothers as well. In my class of 84 people I can only think of one or two who turned out to be “bums”. Friendships were formed that have developed and grown down through these years, and we feel even closer than we did that May day in 1939 when we received that high school diploma.

Our Class of 1939 has two or more mini -reunions each year. We will have another July 23. I received a Hallmark birthday card from my cousin. The words express what this group of “oldies” have experienced and in closing I’d like to share it with you: And I like to think we are not just “oldies” but we are “golden oldies.” How about that!!!!!!!

A Word of Advice

Our childhood dreams have ripened, and we’ve learned a thing or two from hopes we’ve seen, fulfilledassorted troubles we’ve been through.

We’re looking back astonished at how fast the years have flown,
How much we’ve done, how far we’ve come how - well - mature we’ve grown.

Our lives have many stories countless memories remain to touch us once again with joy and tenderness and pain,

And still we look ahead with hope for as the years unfold there is no limit to the dreams a person’s heart can hold.

Just as we have lived, have experience joys, hopes, troubles and all the other things families experience, we will forever hold dear to our hearts the wonderful memories of the high school we attended, the memories of the teachers who taught us and the friendships we have enjoyed.

Young people, treasure these days in your life and when you are old like we are (I am the youngest at 82) these memories will make your life richer and fuller. “Happy memories make warm companions.”

Juanita Agan has lived in Minden since 1935. Her column appears Wednesdays in the Minden Press-Herald. She may be reached at 377-2050.

Photographs taken at the July 9, 2005 Tour

Compliments of Ann Mays Harlan unless noted otherwise

1. Claire Turner Fussell, (('65)Ramona Wigley('44), Carolyn Sale McDaniel ('54),  Morris Busby ('75) & Linda Fomby in the background

(Identified by Barbara Mendenhall Mclemore)

2. Wanda Monzingo Ballard ('52)& Waurynne Hurley Neely ('52), Standing in the background from l-r looks like Monette Grounds ('57), Billy Kidd (54) and Marcelee Robinson Culpepper ('57)

3. Sherry Gresham Gritzbaugh (Class of 1955)

The six flags found in the classrooms were given to WWII Veterans who came to the tour

4. Jim Gritzbaugh compliments of LeVerne Langheld Kidd

While looking at the website for mindenmemories@.org, Under the subtitle "A Last Look at Dear Old MHS School Days Remembered"  I noticed a plea for the identity of the person behind #4  Jim Gritzbaugh.  This is Julius Hinze, the husband of my cousin, Betty Simolke (class of '59).  Julius graduated from Doyline High School about l957. 

If so please e-mail MindenMemories@AOL.COM

5. Peggy Staples ('51) and her niece, Cyndy Pugh (Daughter of Bobbie ('48) and Rex Pugh) In the background is Bobby Moorehead

6. Mickey Watson ('54) and Bernard McCoy ('51)

7. Maurice Whitlow and Carolyn Sale

8. MHS Principal, Morris Busby ('75)  and James Madden ('56)

9. Jim ('56) and Billie Turner

10. Cleve Strong & Sonny Hargrove ('60)

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