Random box score: 1978 Dougherty-Valdosta

From the February 4, 1978 Albany Herald

Valdosta at Dougherty, played February 3.

This random box score was an eventful one for Dougherty as Martha Howard scored 54 points to lead the Trojanettes. The game went to overtime and Howard fouled out with 1:42 remaining.

Howard made many shots, but The Herald noted that it was two misses – from the free throw line – with six seconds to go helped send the game to the extra session.

1978-02-03 Albany Herald (Valdosta-Dougherty)

A two-city doubleheader and a mystery reference

Tift County Industrial opened its 1950-51 basketball season rather late – January 19 – but the Tigers didn’t hesitate in making up for lost time.

They played a doubleheader on the opening day (and night).

“[T]hey open the 1951 basketball season on the road against Hahira this afternoon and Dasher High, of Valdosta, tonight,” according to the January 19, 1951 Daily Tifton Gazette.

Hahira’s African-American high school closed in 1959 with the opening of Westside. At the time of its closing, it was known as Webb-Miller, but it is unknown if that name was in use in 1951. Dasher ceased being a high school in 1956 when Valdosta city built Pinevale.

Though doubleheaders seem quite rare, even in segregated basketball, this one would have been relatively easy to pull off. An afternoon game at Hahira almost certainly meant that the school lacked a gymnasium. Many segregated high schools played outdoors for that reason.

Dasher, being the nicer city high school, had a gymnasium. If not on their campus, somewhere in the community that allowed it to call home. The ride from Hahira to south Valdosta would have taken less than 30 minutes.

(Tift County’s black community was seeking a gymnasium a few years later, seemingly indicating that Industrial, too, lacked an indoor court.)

There is a bit of mystery from the 1951 Gazette article:

“Both teams will be seeking to improve their last season’s record which ended with the girls taking third place in the state tournament and the boys fourth.”

Neither placed in the Georgia Interscholastic Association’s Class B 1950 state tournament. Industrial played football in Class B, though that did not necessarily mean the high school was; Class C never had enough member schools for its own state tournament.

Being the only black high school in Tift County, Industrial was likely a B school, especially as they made the 1949 state hoops tournament in B. However, no information currently exists about the 1950 Class C boys tournament. The girls did not place in the other half of Class C, though, where the third and fourth place teams were Ellaville and Union Normal (Bainbridge).

Class B girls’ third and fourth squads were Liberty County and a Cordele school (or Carroll County Training – results differ). The boys’ third and fourth were Savannah Street (Newnan) and Lemon Street (Marietta).

Nor did Tift County Industrial place in 1949. The boys were knocked out in the first round in 1949 by Union Baptist of Athens. The girls likely weren’t in the tournament.

It could be that the unknown black correspondent to the Gazette confused district and state. Basketball game results for Industrial are nearly nil, especially during that era.

1949: Clay County High created

Clay County became one of the earlier Georgia school systems to consolidate down to one high school in 1949, when a ruling from the state made it the only solution.

The Clay County board decided May 17, 1949 to join Bluffton and Fort Gaines high schools together.

“The section was taken with some apparent hesitation by the board after public hearings at the courthouse Tuesday morning had revealed the step as one to be taken only because of curtailed allotments from the state,” said Fort Gaines’ News Record on May 19.

The state, said The News Record, had cut their allotment of teachers by four. Bluffton elementary was entitled to three, the elementary at Fort Gaines to six and the consolidated high school earned four.

Elementaries were kept in both cities. The new high school was  housed in that building in Fort Gaines.

Clay’s board said it reserved the right to break up the monopoly on high school education if the situation ever bettered. It never seemed to do so, though conditions did not get worse.

When requesting money from the State School Building Authority in 1952, all Clay County High wanted was a vocational building, which at most cost $68,500.

Little changed at Clay until total integration in 1970, with students from A. Speight coming in. Clay County High combined with Randolph County in 1980 and as Randolph-Clay survives as the last of Georgia’s five post-total integration multi-county high school educational attempts.

Sources: The News Record – May 19, 1949, Aug. 21, 1952, Nov. 26, 1953

School stories: Hiram Rosenwald

Not every story of a closed school ends badly, with ruins, weeds and caved-in roofs.

Some not only thrive, but have something to teach us.

Hiram Rosenwald is one of these stories.

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Hiram Rosenwald, 2013

Rosenwald schools got their name from Julius Rosenwald, a supplier who eventually became president and chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Rosenwald took an interest in African-American education, especially in the south, where schools were lacking and conditions were deplorable.

Through a partnership with Booker T. Washington, he became a board member at Tuskegee and set up the Rosenwald Fund in 1917. One of the major programs of the Fund built black schools – nearly 5,000 of them across 15 states. The New Georgia Encyclopedia gives Georgia’s share of this total as 242, built in 103 counties.

Many of the schools were small – one- and two-teacher – and were aided by community support. That was the case in Hiram, where the fund contributed $750 towards the $3,010 total cost for a local school. African-Americans, presumably Paulding County/area citizens, contributed $1,400.

Hiram Rosenwald was budgeted in 1929-30 and built as a two-teacher school. Notes from Fisk University’s Rosenwald Database said it included an elementary library valued at $120.

For the next 25 years, Hiram Rosenwald faithfully served. For part of its history, it contained high school grades, but by the 1946-47 term, it was limited to seven grades, older students going to Matthews in Dallas.

In 1952, Paulding County became one of the first systems in Georgia approved for Minimum Foundation Program school building funds, with further support coming from a local bond issue passed later that year.

Plans called for the building or improvement of nine schools in the county. Plans also called for the consolidation of all black schools into one: Matthews.

Grading began on school sites in the spring of 1954, but not all of the schools were open by the time the 1955-56 year was to begin.

“The Board regrets that all the new buildings are not ready for the opening of school,” said The New Era on August 18, 1955.

Matthews was one of the schools that had yet to open and the Paulding County Board of Education opted to send all of Hiram’s students back to the old Rosenwald school at the beginning of the term. The new Matthews was finally dedicated October 30 that year, with Dr. Lynette S. Bickers of Atlanta University delivering a special speech.

R.L. Cousins, perhaps the leading African-American involved with education in Georgia (and honoree in the naming of two high schools), was also present.

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Historical marker at Hiram.

After Matthews opened in its new building, Hiram Rosenwald was transferred to Sweet Home Baptist Church, which had purchased the property in July 1955 for $500. Sweet Home continued to keep up the building in the decades after. In 2001, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Hiram continues to keep the building’s spirit alive. There is now a museum dedicated to its history as a school and it remains active for community events, with updates on Facebook.

Sources: The Dallas New Era – June 19, 1952, Aug. 28, 1952, March 4, 1954, Aug. 18, 1955, Nov. 24, 1955; National Register of Historic Places; Fisk University Rosenwald Database; New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Hard times in Toombs

The immediate years before the Minimum Foundation Program’s introduction were pretty dire in Georgia, for both white and especially for black schools.

Few school systems had funds to keep up with growing school enrollments, which were combined with the rapidly deteriorating conditions of the buildings the students occupied. Statewide, the problem was so bad that The Atlanta Journal had a series of articles from around the state highlighting the conditions of some of the worst school buildings in the state.

Individual system reports show up now and again in their local newspapers and though most focus on white schools alone, what they reveal are interesting.

Toombs County described its woes in February 1950 in The Lyons Progress.

Ernest Taylor, one of the trustees for the Lyons district, described Lyons as a “fire hazard.”

“Parts are now rotting away,” he said. The student-teacher ratio was not terrible at 1/33, but the restroom ratio was considerably worse: Three restrooms and 16 commodes for 815 students.

Taylor also served Johnson Corner.

“We need everything in the book, including a lunch room, deep well and the building repaired,” he said.

Wells had gone dry at Center and Normantown.

It is not known if any relief came immediately for the more easily fixable issues, but Lyons was not expecting anything to be quickly accomplished for its overcrowding issues in 1951.

Sources: The Lyons Progress – Feb. 25, 1950, March 15, 1951.

Tex Ritter gets busted

Celebrities of the screen sold tickets often in small Georgia towns. It was not every day, though, that celebrities were ticketed in small Georgia towns.

Actor and singing cowboy Tex Ritter was pulled over in Chatsworth in December 1947 when his driver was caught speeding through the city.

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Tex Ritter

As The Chatsworth Times detailed in its December 11, 1947 edition:

“Sheriff’s Deputy George Duncan had no idea he was stopping a celebrity when he halted the sporty station wagon that was speeding through town. But he wasn’t fazed when the actor arose from the back seat of the station wagon while the officer reprimanded the driver. Ritter introduced himself, but Duncan was not impressed enough to forget the whole thing.”

Nor did the court. Duncan brought Ritter and the unnamed driver before Mayor Sam Kelly.

Kelly fined Ritter $20, which apparently the star paid.

The Chatsworth Times offered no further details about where Ritter might have been headed or when exactly – beyond “last week” – he was stopped.

Ritter seems to have been going through a quiet period at the time of the Chatsworth incident. He had not appeared in a film in two years. Discogs¬†does note a handful of single releases in 1947. Appropriately enough, they included “The Last Mile” and “I Can’t Get My Foot Off the Trail.” Son, Thomas, had been born earlier that year.

Also, just over nine months after he was fined, Ritter and wife, Dorothy Fay, became the parents to John Ritter.