Ghosts of the Bogart School

Some time ago, I strolled around the old school grounds, alone in the silence and inactivity … thinking. It was difficult to realize that my last day at the Bogart School took place 50 years ago.

Faces and activities started to appear in my memory. I thought, “There are a lot of ghosts around here.” These ghosts are not Halloween type ghosts, but “friendly ghosts” … old friends of the past that I knew and loved … and still miss.

I could see the little two-room building where we started in the first grade. There we learned the ABC’s and to count to one-hundred.
I could also see in that same building our second grade teacher, Mrs. Martha Colquit Daniell, standing by the door, greeting us as we came in each morning. When we misspelled a word, we had to copy it 25 times. If we used two or three pencils in the copying assignment, she would paddle our hands with a ruler. We had to bring to school each Monday a bar of soap and a towel to wash our hands before lunch. I could see the boys during recess drawing circles in the dirt to shoot marbles or spin-the-top … while the girls were jumping rope or swinging.

Mrs. Martha Daniell  Second Grade Teacher

Mrs. Martha Daniell Second Grade Teacher

I could see us sitting in the wood folding chairs in the old gym for a class program and announcements. I could even see us filing out of the gym by the tune of “America” … coming from the piano played by Mr. Tom Daniel. I could see the high school boys exercising on the softball field … our government encouraged all high schools to do so because America was fighting for freedom in WW II.

I could see myself in those grammar school days sitting behind the player’s bench watching the varsity basketball games that were coached by B.C. Hogan, games with Watkinsville, Statham, Winder, Monroe, Social Circle, Loganville, Winterville, Colbert, and others. The 1943 team that Dad coached won the 10th District Tournament and played in the State Tournament. The team included players J.R. Boyd, Carl Brown, F.C. Carter, Jack Daniell, Vance Daniell, Jack Magness, Bill Nichols, and others. Vance Daniell gave his life for our country in World War II.

B.C. Hogan, Oconee County School Superintendent

B.C. Hogan, Oconee County School Superintendent

I could also see all the “roll at the bat” softball activities before school and during the lunch time, weaving in and around the Maypole, Christmas programs, the Halloween carnival each year on Thursday night in the old gym, sliding down the fire escape, volunteering to go outside to dust the erasers, the oily floors, the coal burning stoves in each classroom, the time that Don Norris and I were influenced by several senior boys to play with their homemade match shooters which resulted in setting on fire the sage grass on the school grounds, and I could even hear the old school bell ringing between classes.

I remembered the first time I saw Mr. James Daniell when we were in the seventh grade. He refereed our elementary basketball games. The next year, Mr. Daniell became a teacher and coach of basketball. The team’s record was 18 wins and 6 loses with players like Ray Bond, Eddie Salmon, Charlie Blackwell, Billy Huff, Bob Cash, Reginald Norris, Foster Pruitt, Ben McLeroy, Bill Mann, Bill Norris, Robert Downs, Jimmy Sims, and Tommy Michael.

Charlie Blackwell, Eddie Salmon, Reggie Norris, and Coach James Daniell

Charlie Blackwell, Eddie Salmon, Reggie Norris, and Coach James Daniell

I could see us in the Agriculture and Home Economics building, sitting at the tables in Mr. Lamar Blackwell’s class … reading the Farmers Magazine. There were the numerous tree leaves on the tables on which we were tested. Mr. Blackwell would write assignments on the blackboard and sign off by drawing a rabbit with a big cotton tail. In the middle of the cotton tail, he would write, “The End.” And, across the hall, the girls were in home economics making aprons, cooking, and once they even painted the walls.

I smiled as I remembered the long belt line and initiation of all eighth grade boys and girls into FFA and FHA. I then looked on the other side of the grounds and could see the old two-story brick building that housed not only grades 3 through 12 but also the library, the principal’s office, and big trophy case. There was Mr. R.W. (Mutt) Stephens, the principal and tallest man on campus with his loud, rough voice that we all came to love and understand … familiar words we heard between classes on campus and even in downtown Bogart were … “Get your freights back up those stairs and walk down!”

(Mutt) Stephens, Principal

He was our history and advanced math teacher in the 12th grade, and the girls basketball and boys track coach. His wife, Mrs. Alice Stephens was our English teacher, and directed our school plays. She tried to get us to read more … and I will never forget her classes when we had to report spontaneously on writings in the Readers Digest … and her classes on Shakespeare `

With the advancement of computers and technology, it now seems that one of the most valuable classes we took in our junior or senior year was on the old Royal typewriters. Little did we know at that time the true value of this class.
I could see all the bus trips and basketball games that enriched our lives. The 1954 girls basketball team, perhaps the best girls team ever assembled at Bogart High, composed of players Betty Thompson, Janet Zuber, Eloise Sims, Emily Dean, Shirley Dickens, Betty Bell, Mary Ann Downs, Eleanor Griffeth, Mary Jean Smith, Betty Jones, Rebecca Whitehead, and Marinda McElroy. That team won 30 games, losing only 3 games, and played in the final game of the state tournament in Macon.

Then I remembered the Junior-Senior Prom in the old gym, decorated with bright ribbons and balloons, and tables with goodies. At the beginning of the program, we would write in five proms after which we walked down the dirt road past Mr. Dewitt Daniell’s house and back … holding hands of course.

Bogart Gym

Bogart Gym

As my memory became clearer, I could see most of the boys and girls in our classes over the years: Hazel Cheatham, Earl Cox, Donald Dial, Donald Dodd, Reba Draffin, Rebecca Evans, Mary Ann Finch, Donald Hammond, Donald Hardigree, Troy Holiday, Carlton Huff, Vernon Jackson, David Michael, Perry Michael, Don Norris, Dickey Oldham, Betty Parham, Annie Beth Payne, Jimmy Power, Peggy Primm, Jimmy Roberts, Shirley Roberts, Betty Thompson, Sonny Thornton, Rose Treadwell, Jimmy Vaughn, J.E. Walls, Johnny Wheeler, Jimmie Whitehead, Joyce Williams, Billy Wilson, Janet Zuber, and others. I also saw teachers that graced our presence such as Miss Ruby Phillips, Mrs. Frances de la Perriere, Mrs. Elizabeth Mitchum, Mrs. Joyce Sandifer, our librarian Mrs. DeWitt Daniell, and others.
I could see those in our 1954 graduating class … namely … Joyce Williams, Betty Thompson, Janet Zuber, Rebecca Evans, Mary Ann Finch, Betty Parham, Annie Beth Payne, Donald Hammond, Loyce Boyd, Perry Michael, Sonny Thornton, Don Norris, Donald Dial, Glenn Downs, Vernon Jackson, David Michael, J.E. Walls, Troy Holliday, Earl Cox, and me.

Those that started in the first grade and were in all 12 grades at Bogart were Donald Hammond, Joyce Williams, Don Norris, Vernon Jackson, J.E. Walls, Sonny Thornton, and me.

Twenty of us came together to graduate on the evening of May 21, 1954.

Time has been a villain again … it has taken not only our school, but many of those beloved teachers and classmates from our midst. I thought … “Why did I ever want to leave this place and all the unforgettable faces and events that helped to shape my life.”

There are a lot of old friends in our memories who have walked and graced these grounds with their presence. Yes, their ghosts are still with us today … they are friendly ghosts … loving ghosts … that we will never forget.

We still remember and care about those who have gone on … and by our presence today … we continue to care for each other in the year 2004, our 50th anniversary.

May we continue to build memories … may we continue to enjoy reminiscing … and may God continue to bless each of us.

We don’t know what the future holds … but we know who holds the future.
Jack Harlon Hogan
April 25, 2004