Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992 Page: 108
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
I started the first grade in Beaumont, Texas, where we lived for 13 months
in 1914-1915. I believe when we returned, I finished the first grade in Columbus or
started the second grade. Miss Sally Whitfield was the teacher who had been teaching
for many years. I remember her as a gentle and kindly person and patient with her
students. My fourth grade teacher was Miss Sally Cone, and my fifth and sixth grade
was Miss Georgia Lawless who married Bennett Hastings, who worked at Gegenworth
Grocery Store. I left in the middle of the sixth grade as my mother and father died two
months apart in December 1919 and January 1920 and we moved to Beaumont, where
brothers and sisters lived.
Two things I remember about the school. It was two story and about 3 or
4 rooms on each side of a wide hall, and I presume the same on the second floor, although
I was never on the 2nd floor. All the lower grades were on the lower floor. As I recall
there was on the south side of the school a high white plank fence that ran to the street,
dividing the play grounds. At recess the girls played on one side and the boys on the
The other thing I remember was the first time I ever saw an airplane. It was
in about 1915 or 1916, we were told that an airplane would fly over Columbus. About
the time it was due, classes were dismissed and we all gathered in the school yard and
waited. Finally, we heard the motor and then appeared the plane shining silvery bright
in the sun. We watched until it was only a speck in the sky. It was the topic of
conversation for days.21
The school yard was fenced with a barbless wire running through holes in
the six by six posts. There were stiles on various sides of the school yard for crossing
over the fence. There were no sports. Some boys played catch but mainly it was running
around or racing. We played marbles a lot and spinning tops was another activity. I note
the school building is no longer standing. Professor [William Allen] Holland was the
16. The Stafford Opera House
I was real pleased to see that the Opera House had been renovated and I
enjoyed attending the opening on October 13, 1990. In my boyhood, the Stafford Bank
was in the lower floor but, as I recall, much was unoccupied. I believe the Ford motor
agency occupied the lower floor much later. On the Milam Street side at the rear was
a door we could pry open enough to enter and climb the stairs up to the stage area. The
curtain was still there with the names of local merchants advertising their businesses.
I remember Mattern Grocery, Sam Harbert Dodge cars, Gegenworth Grocery, First State
Bank, and etc.
On the east side where the present concrete steps are, there were thick 10"
or 12" boards and they had weathered considerably. We used to have bets to see who
could run up and down the fastest, avoiding the raised splinters as best as we could.
I understand the last show held in the opera house was in 1916, but my recollection was
that it was essentially unoccupied for a long period.22
21 The first known airplane flights over Columbus occurred on April 26, 1919 as part of a "victory
loan" drive. Two planes flew from Ellington Field to Columbus, where they performed stunts, including flying
under both bridges on the east side of town, and took three local residents for rides. Earlier flights may certainly
22 The author's recollection is correct. Unfortunately, his confidence in it has been eroded by one
or more of the various "histories" of the opera house published over the years, which date the theater's demise
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, May, 1992, periodical, May 1992; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151385/m1/40/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.