A new gym at Oak Park

The opening of new buildings always brought excitement to Georgia towns. That was certainly the case in late 1951 when Oak Park High debuted its new showplace.

With visitors apparently declaring it “one of the nicest and most serviceable structures of its kind,” the gymnatorium, as it was referred to, opened November 13 with games against Wheeler County High.

Wheeler won the girls game, 35-23, but Oak Park’s white-and-blue-clad boys destroyed the Alamo school, 72-39, in the finale.

Oak Park was nice enough that it hosted at least one game from out-of-county high schools. Vidalia and Lyons played there in January 1952 as neither school had its own gymnasium.

Within a decade, the air at Oak Park was decidedly different.

Few would have thought of closing the high school there in 1951, but low-attendance rural high schools who survived the consolidation efforts of the 1950s were soon out anyway under pressure from the state. Oak Park was transitioned into an elementary school in 1963. Twenty years later, the elementary was eliminated as well.

Sources: Swainsboro Forest-Blade – December 13, 1951; The Lyons Progress – January 10, 1952.

A rule referees might want to return

Watch any sporting events and you’ll likely hear at least some booing of a referee or umpire by fans.

On rare occasions, the official will ask a fan to exit the building. But what if officials could really strike back, say make it really count?

For at least a few years, basketball officials could.

Not many examples have popped up from game reports, but in the 1940s-50s, the referees could turn that scowl into a foul: Free throws could be awarded for fans’ rowdyism.

Rowdyism is something that thankfully seems to have simmered down a good bit since that era. Fans can be nasty, but threats of serious violence are rare.

Fort Valley’s basketball boosters seem to have been so bad in January 1948, that the local newspaper, The Leader-Tribune was embarrassed.

“A high school basketball court is no place for prize-fight tactics. Yells of “he’s no good, take him out … kill ’em … kill the umpire” … accompanied by frequent boos and catcalls, serve only to enrage visitors and embarrass high school students, thus humiliated by the sorry spectacle of such behavior on the part of their elders.”

People from other towns were taking notice, said The Leader-Tribune, and the much-better-behaved kids were referring to it as “adult delinquency.” The paper offered some advice:

“Since we can’t set a good example, let’s follow theirs. Next time you go to a basketball game on the home court or elsewhere, take your good manners along. There is no better place to air them than in the presence of the youth of our community.”

No mentions were made of referees punishing Fort Valley, but a year earlier a young Jesse Outlar – writing for the Waycross Journal-Herald – shook his head at behavior witnessed at a Waycross-Nahunta game.

Booing caused Nahunta to be awarded nine technical foul shots on one play.

“Referee Glenn Paulk called one foul on a Bulldog player then the fans made nine in succession. As everyone knows, when the home crowd hisses and howls while an opponent attempts to shoot a free shot, then the official may call a technical foul. The fact that Nahunta missed nine of the ten is no factor.”

Outlar said most of the booing came from junior high students in the balcony, but their youth was no excuse for a negative reaction.

The rule was still on the books in 1952, when the appropriately-named Joe Sports said it almost cost the Douglas Pirates a game against Nashville.

“The boys game proved to be a different contest as the score remained close through out the game. Douglas managed to keep a few points lead until the 4th quarter when the score was tied 40 to 40. Nashville took a point lead by virtue of a technical foul called on the Douglas fans for unnecessary noise and booing. With only 40 seconds left to play, Douglas’ star forward, Bobby Green, stepped into his territory and shot. The ball sacked the net for 2 points to give the local boys a 42 to 41 win.”

Sources: The Leader-Tribune – Jan. 15, 1948;  Waycross Journal-Herald – Jan. 8, 1947; Coffee County Progress – Jan. 27, 1952.

Albany High closes

The final Albany High School (source: Wikipedia)

The Dougherty County School System announced Tuesday that Albany High was closing, effective immediately.

Albany was the county’s oldest high school, with roots to the 1800s and was the system’s only public white high school until Dougherty opened in 1963. Monroe was the home of all of the system’s black high school children until September 1964, when 12th graders began the process of desegregation.

The closure came six weeks after the Dougherty County School System proposed reorganization for Albany High, whose numbers have been declining.

The Albany Herald said the vote was 4-3 in favor of closure.

The final AHS building was completed in 1954, costing a whopping $1.9 million at the time. By contrast, in 1952, Terrell County estimated that it would cost $1.5 million to build seven elementary schools as part of its building program.

When opened in 1954, Albany High had 1,300 students. The last numbers released by the Georgia High School Association – average daily attendance for reclassification in 2016 – Albany was down to 837.

Average daily attendance numbers are hard to come by before 1978, but AHS had to be near its peak in student population in 1962 when the number was 1,697. That made it the second largest white high school in Georgia (Savannah, 2,008) and third largest in Georgia overall (Washington of Atlanta was second at 1,777).

Upon the opening of the 1954 building, no guarantees were made about how long it would last.

The Albany Herald said, “With Albany growing at its present rate, however, no building can be made adequate for anticipated needs for any great length of time, Mr. Kalmon [E.H. Kalmon, Dougherty board chairman] indicated.”

The lengthy article described every facet of the building, from recessed water fountains to its 1,900 lockers. Naturally, the athletic facilities were quite nice for the era.

“THE GYMNASIUM is of such tremendous size as to stagger the visitor. No less than six basketball goals are erected on the interior which boasts a maple floor and pull-out bleachers recessed in the walls which will seat 1,400 persons. In addition, huge ventilating fans keep the structure pleasantly cool. Two practice and two contest courts are provided for basketball and the gym is fringed with showers and dressing rooms, as well as offices and class space for physical education and coaches. The girls’ showers are planning for individual use, whereas the boys have “gang” showers. Lockers and shower facilities are also provided for visiting athletic teams.

“The gymnasium also has a well-designed lobby containing trophy cases, a concession stand and public rest rooms. It is easily available to the enormous parking area in the plant’s rear.

“The basketball goals of the gymnasium may be pulled up and recessed into the wall when not in use and facilities are available to drop a metal screen down the center of the gym to separate boys’ and girls’ basketball squads or physical educational classes.”

Within 10 years, the city had a new high school to behold with the opening of Dougherty on the growing east side of town. Westover opened in 1968.

Albany kept its school population over 1,000 until likely the mid 1990s. GHSA numbers were based on three grades until 1998.

In 1978, the first year the league printed ADA figures in its handbooks, Albany had 922 students from 10th-12th grade. The number dipped to 852 in 1984 before falling under 700 during the next classification cycle.

Albany High recovered to 914 students in 1998, but spent 2000-14 under 800 students, including a low of 702 in 2012-14. The number jumped again to 912 for 2014-16, but dropped again.

The second Albany High School

Albany’s first dedicated high school was built in 1916, according to the Albany High Times, and located at the corner of Society and Monroe streets. It quickly outgrew the site and was replaced by a building at 1000 N. Jefferson Street. Before the high school buildings, Albany’s high school was part of an all-grades building called Albany Academy.

Albany won only one boys state basketball tournament, the Class B championship in 1935 under head basketball coach and former head football coach, Bevin Lee. The Indians dominated Perry, 34-20, at Woodruff Hall in Athens for the championship.

Albany Indians, 2006-07
Albany High basketball, 2006-07

They were runners-up in 1990 and 1993 – both times to Westover – under Archie Chatmon.

Albany’s girls won state titles in 1952 and 1953. They had not been to state since 2012.

Starting in 1955, Albany also hosted the city’s major boys basketball Christmas tournament before the Civic Center was built.

Indians was chosen as the athletic teams’ nickname in a contest c. 1924. Albany did not have a nickname prior, though the school colors of orange and green had already been established.

1961-62 Albany High Squaws

Sources: The Dawson News – Nov. 6, 1952; The Albany Herald – Aug. 17, 1954, Dec. 16, 1979; Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Education Statistics: Public High School Data; Southern School News – September 1964; multiple handbooks of the Georgia High School Association; Albany High Times

Region 1, 1951

The Georgia High School Association announced new region alignments for 1952-54 in October 1951 and The Daily Tifton Gazette felt obliged to give the entire rundown of Region 1.

Average daily attendance was included with the alignments, of which official numbers are rare to come across in archives.

For the fun of comparison, I’ve included the numbers on file from the GHSA, which were announced in late 2015 for the upcoming 2016-18 reclassification. Status of each school is also included. For all but a few, I have a concrete date of closure.

It should be noted, of course, that the numbers are generally much lower for reasons beyond Georgia’s overall population increase over 65 years: Segregation, more rural schools, baby boomers were just beginning school and not as much of a push for a high school education.

Also, some of these schools had yet to graduate their first 12th grade classes. The addition of 12th grade was uneven across the state, which some systems adding earlier than others.

Of the 88 schools listed, only 22 have survived with the same name and have not been consolidated at some point.

Region 1, Class AA

  • Baker 482 (closed in 1991)
  • Columbus 689 (1,269 at time of 2015 region reclassification)
  • Jordan 1,076 (787)
  • R.E. Lee 865 (combined with Upson in 1992)
  • Lanier 2,000 (became part of Central High in 1970)
  • Albany 834 (837)
  • Moultrie 1,189 (consolidated for Colquitt County in 1978; Colquitt’s ADA is 2,441)

Region 1, Class A

  • Americus 266 (combined with Sumter County in 2004)
  • Cordele 251 (consolidated for Crisp County in 1957)
  • Tifton 571 (became Tift County in 1962; Tift’s ADA is 2,173)
  • Cook 473 (901)
  • Miller County 418 (275)
  • Bainbridge 327 (1,487)
  • Cairo 496 (1,187)
  • Thomasville 391 (761)
  • Fitzgerald 408 (829)
  • Ocilla 352 (consolidated for Irwin County, 1952)
  • Nashville 340 (consolidated for Berrien, 1954)
  • Valdosta 588 (2,006)
  • Jeff Davis 301 (867)
  • Baxley 328 (school districts combined in 1952 for Appling County)
  • Bacon County 349 (570)
  • Waycross 438 (consolidated into Ware County, 1994)
  • Douglas 338 (consolidated for Coffee County, 1955)

Region 1, Class B

  • Warner Robins 299 (1,548)
  • Wacona 261 (consolidated for Ware County, 1958)
  • Seminole County 258 (452)
  • Sylvester 257 (consolidated for Worth County, 1960)
  • Mitchell County 253 (consolidated with Baker County, but reformed in 2006. Current ADA is 384)
  • Pearson 242 (consolidated for Atkinson County, 1955)
  • Blakely-Union 238 (consolidated for Early County)
  • Norman Park 234 (consolidated for Colquitt County, 1978)
  • Nahunta 233 (consolidated for Brantley County, 1967)
  • Cochran 226 (school districts combined to form Bleckley County in 1977)
  • Blackshear 224 (consolidated for Pierce County, 1981)
  • Terrell County 164 (396)
  • Lanier County 217 (400)
  • Camden County 208 (2,489)
  • Hawkinsville 202 (389)
  • Quitman 197 (consolidated for Brooks County, 1959)
  • Perry 186 (1,321)
  • Fort Valley 184 (consolidated for Peach County, 1970)
  • Cuthbert 184 (consolidated for Randolph County, 1963)
  • Buena Vista 178 (consolidated for Marion County, 1954)
  • Charlton County 175 (461)
  • Sycamore 174 (consolidated for Turner County, 1957)
  • Eastman 171 (consolidated for Dodge County, 1957)
  • Hahira 163 (consolidated for Lowndes, 1966)
  • Broxton 162 (combined with Mary Hayes Elementary in 1970, consolidated into Coffee in 1990)
  • Morven 160 (consolidated for Brooks County, 1959)
  • Ashburn 157 (consolidated for Turner County, 1957)
  • Nicholls 157 (consolidated into Coffee, 1990)
  • Crawford County 154 (481)
  • Whigham 154 (consolidated into Cairo)
  • Homerville 152 (consolidated for Clinch County, 1954)
  • Patterson 151 (consolidated for Pierce County, 1981)

Region 1, Class C

  • Shellman 65 (consolidated for Randolph County, 1963)
  • Omega 71 (consolidated into Tift County, 1964)
  • Plains 64 (consolidated for Sumter County, 1979)
  • Union (Leslie) 62 (consolidated for Sumter County, 1979)
  • Clay County 77 (combined with Randolph County)
  • Attapulgus 49 (consolidated into Bainbridge, 1964)
  • Climax 112 (consolidated into Bainbridge, 1964)
  • West Bainbridge 89 (consolidated into Bainbridge, 1964)
  • Mt. Pleasant 48 (consolidated into another school in Decatur County before end of decade)
  • Arlington 88 (consolidated)
  • Edison 69 (consolidated for Calhoun County, 1963)
  • Morgan 87 (consolidated for Calhoun County, 1963)
  • Richland 68 (consolidated into Stewart County, 1964)
  • Stewart County 74 (combined with Quitman County before reestablishing in 2008; current ADA 124)
  • Lee County 105 (1,874)
  • Sumner 134 (consolidated for Worth County, 1960)
  • Warwick 67 (consolidated for Worth County, 1960)
  • Bridgeboro 52 (consolidated into Sylvester, 1953)
  • Doerun 141 (consolidated for Colquitt County, 1978)
  • Baker County 87 (combined with Mitchell County before reestablishing in 2006; current ADA 84)
  • Damascus 87 (consolidated for Early County)
  • Jakin 67 (consolidated with school in Early County)
  • Hilton 84 (consolidated with school in Early County)
  • Meigs 103 (consolidated with Central (Thomasville))
  • Ochlochnee 120 (consolidated to form Central (Thomasville) in 1959)
  • Coolidge 100 (consolidated to form Central (Thomasville) in 1959)
  • Boston 68 (consolidated to form Central (Thomasville) in 1959)
  • Pavo 132 (consolidated to form Central (Thomasville) in 1959)
  • Webster County 72 (consolidated to form Tri-County before reestablishing; current ADA 105)
  • Georgetown 63 (consolidated to form Quitman County in 1970)
  • Sale City 64 (consolidated with Mitchell County)
  • Hopeful 73 (consolidated with Mitchell County)

A bad night in Pinehurst

Forfeit stories from the olden days can be pretty amusing.

Unlike now when in-game forfeits occur seemingly mostly for fights or they’re determined afterwards for ineligible players, older forfeits are more fun and usually revolve around a hair-trigger decision by a coach.

On December 7, 1954, Butler head coach Mack Marchman pulled his boys team off the floor during a game in Pinehurst. The score was 14-9 at the time.

The Butler Herald from December 9 described the situation as, “Marchman apparently was dissatisfied with the referee’s decisions. Pinehurst scored all 14 of their points via the free foul shot route according to an observer.”

Arguably the toughest part for one Butler booster came minutes later.

“Mr. Alfred Robinson of Butler won the cake given as a door prize but returned it to the referee with a few kind words.”