One of the most iconic images of historic American education is that of the country schoolhouse. A one-room fixture, it represented education and it represented communities.
One-room schools are rare these days. Florida closed its last one, Duette Elementary, in 2016. Minnesota still has one, Angle Inlet, located in a section of the state only accessible by roads in Canada.
Georgia, generally being easily accessible and communities located close enough to towns of some size, began weeding theirs out as soon as possible. By 1960, they were all but extinct.
Note: This is the start of a series about the biggest change to ever hit Georgia public school education, the Minimum Foundation Program.
With most of the action happening in the 1950s, the Minimum Foundation Program completely reshaped school systems throughout the states, building new or adding to thousands of schools. It caused widespread consolidation of white high schools and eliminated more than 75 percent of black schools over a 10-year span, from 1949-50 to 1959-60.
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.
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.