Joe Taylor ('59)

Ever heard the saying I grew up poor, but didn’t know it?  Well, that pretty much sums up my early life in Oakdale. I actually started the first grade at the old Smyrna School and my teacher was Ms. Hunt—stern and always wore black!  We moved from Smyrna to Oakdale and I started the second grade at Fitzhugh Lee.

We had everything we needed in the way of clothing and food and shelter. My brother Jim and I entertained ourselves by playing in the yard and on the railroad bank as we grew up besides the Seaboard Railroad tracks. We had an outdoor privy and a well for drinking water and a garden of a about an acre and a half.  My brother and I had chores of bringing in two scuttles of coal each night in the winter and cutting a box of kindling for the fire every Sunday evening for Daddy.

Early times in the garden meant a push plow and I can still remember the first Roto Tiller we had. Wow! It would shake your insides loose, but got the job done! Each spring, the garden had to be broken up and Daddy used Old Louis, who was an old Black man who lived in the settlement on Paradise Shoals Road off Log Cabin Drive. Louis had an old mule and wagon and that is how he traveled al around Oakdale. I remember Daddy asking Louis” How much do I owe you Louis?” Louis would always reply” so much for my mule and so much for me.”  Grass was cut by an old push reel lawnmower. The first gas mower we got was an Eska brand from Rich’s and although it was a push, it was truly amazing! The garden provided food and we had chickens, which also provided food and fresh eggs. You learned the value of WORK!

 The old privy had to be cleaned out every few months, which I dreaded. Daddy would dig a hole in the woods and we helped by shoveling the goody into a wheelbarrow to the hole in the woods. Boy—what an awful chore!

 I remember our first TV set –it was a Rich’s brand AMC 17-inch table model and daddy bought it on time. We were the first, and people would walk for miles to come and watch our TV.  I especially recall the first time I saw Elvis on TV. It was on a Saturday night and he appeared on one of the “Dorsey Brothers” shows. Daddy yelled at Mama “ Mama! Come in here quick and look at this S.O.B.!” because of his movements!

 O.L. Parker was the principal at Fitzhugh Lee and he had a paddle that was made out of heart pine with holes drilled in it. You toed the line with Mr. Parker! Food in the lunchroom was good as Mrs. Thelma Voyles was in charge. She is a fine Christian lady and is responsible for my accepting JESUS as my savior in Bible School as she would walk us down to Fellowship Baptist Church for Bible School. Mrs. Voyles truly loved children!

 We played cars at recess on the backstop of the ball field when we were small children and used pieces of cardboard boxes to slide down the bank. We also would slip down the way to Mr. Banks yard and hook some his large crabapples, which were about the size of a silver dollar! Later, we played baseball at recess using worn out gloves and worn out baseballs we would find beyond the fence in the weeds. As for bats, we would use the broken bats used by the big team that were tacked back together with nails and then taped with friction tape. I was playing infield once and a sharp ground ball was hit to me and it took a bad hop hitting me squarely in the groin! Boy! Did that hurt!

 One of my pals from grammar school on, Robert Fitzgerald, and I were chosen to be trained to operate the school’s movie projector, and we would be excused from class often to show movies. Boy! What a treat! I remember Mr. Parker chose us.

 6th and 7th grades were full of mischief.  We got in trouble for tying up Donnie Wheeler with Kudzu vines and then pushing him down a hill into the Kudzu patch. Ms. Betsy Cook wore our hands out with bolo paddle!  Later, I experimented with chewing tobacco on the ball field at recess along with others who shall remain unnamed. I believe it was Browns Mule and it was awful!  Some first grade kid told on us to Mr. Parker! We were in big trouble! Mr. Parker made us each call home and tell parents what we did. Then, he offered us a choice of a paddling or to work for him after school for two weeks. Like fools, we chose the work! He worked us like prisoners cutting grass, weeding and other chores!  Years later, Mr. Parker, would tell Daddy he got such a laugh out of the incident for years!

 Campbell was different. We started in the 8th grade in 1954. Jasper Griffin was Principal and Robert Alford was Asst. Principal. Mr. Griffin was stern but fair. Mr. Alford commanded respect and he got it! He could walk inside the Gym and we would all be a buzz talking and laughing. All he had to do was say,” Let me have your attention!”  You could then hear a pin drop it got so quiet!  10th grade is where I had my first love!  Raven haired beauty that shall remain nameless, but her touch while holding hands in the hall would send shock waves through my entire body!  I will never forget her!

My best friend ad I failed Algebra and had to endure summer school! Boy- both of us hated that teacher! Poor Mr. Blocker in shop—what that poor man endured from his boys in class! Burning wood on the lathes, smoking up the entire room, and once, somebody tossed a M-80 or a cherry bomb firecracker inside the woodpile! 

Getting shot with bobby pins in the but with rubber bands, spit wad fights, and scraping the sole of your shoe across the floor that made a sound like someone passing gas!  Then, there was the “ smoke hole.”  The smoke hole was the designated place on the campus where you could smoke on break; provide you had a letter of permission from your parents. Very interesting place! My first experience with a cigarette was with a “homerun” brand given to me by a guy from Argo Road who is nameless. It made me dizzy!

I guess our senior trip was a different experience for all of us!  The one thing that stands out about the trip other than the mischief and misbehavior that took place was our Class President’s shoulder going out on the train and our stopping in Hamlet, N.C. late at night and a Dr. coming on the train and putting his shoulder back in place!  The other is the meeting on the train on the way home by Mr. Barksdale; a small man in size but had all our respect! He never raised his voice during that talk to us, but made everyone ashamed and many were brought to tears! Because of our misdeeds, Cobb County stopped Senior Trips for years afterwards.

Friends you make in grammar school and then later in High School, last a lifetime in some cases. You never make friends like that later in life, friends, but not like your school pals!