I Remember The Old High School

I remember the old High School in Comanche, Texas so very well. Of course, at the time I entered it in 1970, I had no idea that it was opened in the early 1920s, nor did I realize that the old college (West Side School) was razed when the “new high school” was built. I didn’t even realize that the gym where I spent so much of my time sat right on top of the spot where the old college had been.

No, all I knew back then was that it was a gorgeous old building that I could have fallen in love with had it not housed a school! It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my friends or even that I did not like my teachers because I actually did…I just did not like school, plain and simple!

You have to remember that my heathen friends and I came of age in what was an extremely negative time in this country. In our twelve years we saw JFK, Bobby, and Martin murdered. We saw Governor George Wallace confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life due to a single bullet.

We saw Kent State, and we were told to buy bomb shelters because the Russians were coming. We saw the Civil Rights movement play out in front of us while the Guard escorted a young black woman into a white school…and we saw water hoses turned on children because of the color of their skin.

We saw sit-ins, love-ins, and Laugh In, and we saw Water Gate. We saw Gary Summers march off never to return, and we saw protestors spit into the faces of those boys who did come home.

In retrospect, I don’t see that it should have been a shock to anyone that we went through a rebellious period the likes of which had not really been seen in small-town Comanche up until that time. Looking back across the years, it seems a little naïve to me that our parents didn’t see us coming, but they didn’t.

I’ve often looked at the photo featured on this page and wished I could have been a part of it. To me, it represents a time in Comanche history when young people were still young people, when the world still made at least some sense to them. If you stop and think about it, even in the WWII years Americans were positive people. They waved flags and used ration stamps while they grew victory gardens…because they didn’t really KNOW.

My Viet Nam generation lost that attitude when we watched the war play out on the television that brought it into our living rooms every night. Maybe for the first time, we understood what war really was, and we didn’t like it, but even we were humiliated and appalled as we watched our peers turn their anger on the messengers instead of those who pulled the strings and pushed the buttons.

And now I have to tell you that as usual, this article has taken over and become something that is not at all what I had planned when I first sat down to write. My goal was simply to talk about the old high school building, not the events it saw play out in the world around it.

My original goal was to remember that the building had three floors, with the wonderful old auditorium, a real auditorium, located on the top floor. Never in my life has there been another room that could equal that old room, where senior plays (Remember senior plays?), band concerts, magic shows, graduations, group meetings, and any other event you can imagine were held.

We had no air conditioning, just what breeze we could find through those huge old windows, and I don’t remember that we suffered. I certainly did not even though I was used to central air at home.

Of course, when we I entered high school girls could not wear pants, which made no sense considering we had to climb tall staircases all day long in those very, very short dresses. Later in life when I was a teacher, I often thought of the things we wore, and I was never very good about enforcing a dress code on my students because I remembered WHEN!!

Before we graduated, times had changed and we were allowed to wear pants, but my goodness! I look back at pictures and wonder why our mothers let us out of the house. Our pants were frayed, our hair was parted in the middle and hung board straight below our shoulders, and most of us would have looked like a counterpart to the bad Jimmy Dean if we had just had a cigarette between our fingers!

There are so many, many things that I remember about this building where I spent the better part of four years, but since I have let this get so long I think I will ask you to record your memories of the building in the Facebook feed or comment box below…but I just remembered one more thing…the two front doors!

Students today would never understand this, but do you remember that one of those doors was for the girls to enter and the other for the boys? What a hoot!

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If you have any idea who the kids in this photo are, please let us know!

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About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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34 Responses to I Remember The Old High School

  1. Lindy Trotter Morgan says:

    I remember sitting in the windows in the auditorium and nobody worried about us falling out. Driving around and around the school at lunch was just toooo much fun and making apple wine in chem. class.

  2. Nancy willingham Trotter says:

    i went to school in this high school & graduated in 1955 do you remember the bell tower in front the homemaking building was south of the main building The elementary school was across the street west of high school. i went to the old “Grammer school” which was the hight school when my Mother Alma Greer Willingham went to school .Its auditorium was upstairs too That was indead a long time ago

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Nancy, the bell tower still remains on the property, and I am so glad of that. The grammar school that was at one time the high school was JB Layne Elementary, another great old building. I knew and loved your mom, BTW!

  3. Charles Mazurek says:

    I didn’t go to high school in Comanche, but rather in Sidney. Also, I must be about six years older than the author, but I found the article to be an excellent commentary on the times of my youth and young adulthood. It brought back a lot of memories and was very enjoyable.

  4. Katherine Day Loftin says:

    I have many good memories of the old high school as well as West Ward when it was the elementary school and then Jr. High in the late 50’s. The Big Chief store was a happening place too.

    It was a fun time in my life and I wish the high school kids today could experience some of those days when life was less stressful and more fun. My granddaughters have had more fun looking through my high school “Arrowheads” and commenting on the pretty dresses the girls wore, especially the formal dresses and could not believe we weren’t allowed to wear slacks or shorts to school.

    I remember making biscuits in Homemaking with Mrs. Rhea and we would pass them through the window to the Ag boys as their building was just behind the Homemaking Cottage. Of course had we thrown them, we could have knocked them out as they were heavy biscuits. (We overworked the dough, for sure.) The second semester of homemaking we made dresses on treddle sewing machines and in Miss Ross’ typing class, we learned to type on the black standard upright typewriters. Now look at all the kids with their iphones and ipads.

    We actually “went on dates” where the boy picked up the girl at her front door and opened the car door for her. Then when taking her home, would walk her to the front door again and kissed her goodnight. It was never acceptable to drive up and honk the horn for her to come out or to let her walk to the door alone after the date. In school, if a couple were dating, the boy would walk his girlfriend to class while carrying her books.

    I could go on as there’s so many good memories. I’m so glad I remember the 50’s well.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Katherine, this was exactly what I was hoping someone would remember! If you know others who would share, please ask them to do so. I came along later and my home ec teacher was Mrs. J.S. Hill, but we made those same biscuits! We also had the same old typewriters. F F F Space J J J Space F Space J Space……

  5. missy jones says:

    This post is about the school students in the 1950’s. About the middle of the 1950’s I was working at the Service Drug in town. Many students came to the drug store for lunch, we had wonderful chicken salad, tuna, pimento cheese sandwiches ( all home made) at lunch and many students had a standing order. (and the plate had potato chips and pickle slices.) We would have their plates on the counter, with their ticket when they walked in the door, along with their drink. They could eat fast and get back to school on time. does anyone remember this?

  6. Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

    Missy, by the time I came along, it was the Texas Burger where a lot of us had standing orders, but I loved having an open campus. It was a nice break!

  7. Gordon Bearden says:

    I remember being a Freshman and hearing Donnie Bingham play the Last Date, the Floyd Cramer song and thinking how talented he was and also the Magic shows. I was a Sophomore when the building was condemned and yes I remember the short dresses, WOW. What a great time in life and I wouldn’t have chosen to share it with any other people.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      I remember it all so well, Gordon. AND Donnie was absolutely the best! We used to get a group together at Beattie and get Donnie to play, and it was magic, especially his FC!!

  8. Janie Grayson Mason says:

    Fredda, I’m just now finding these great stories and I am definitely enjoying reading them and remembering, too. As a 1968 graduate, I was there in the general time frame! Thank you for writing them.
    One thing, though. Gary Summers was killed in an aircraft crash in Germany. I don’t believe he ever was in Vietnam. My husband, Jerry Don Giesecke, son of Chester Giesecke, who taught math in CHS, did die in Vietnam in December of 1969. I’m not sure if there are any other actual Vietnam casualties from Comanche. Jerry Don graduated from Novice High School in 1966, but he lived in Comanche with his parents until we married in 1968. Ed Tayor, 1967 CHS graduate, also died in Germany while he was stationed there in the Army. It was in a motor vehicle accident. You won’t find Gary’s or Ed’s name on The Wall, but you will find Jerry Don’s on Panel 15W Line 70.
    You have so many things right, you’re forgiven for a couple of ‘mangled’ memories. :)
    Again, thanks for the stories!

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Janie, you have caught me totally off guard. I was friends with Gary, and I have always believed that he was killed in Nam. I guess I’m shocked that I never knew this. Also, I do remember when Chester’s son was killed. I’ve always been so thankful that I grew up and that he and I came to know each other as adults. I would have hated for him to remember me strictly from geometry class!! LOL

      I loved both of the Gieseckes a lot, and while I always felt for them in the loss of their son, I suppose I couldn’t really understand their grief until we lost our daughter.

      I am also so very sorry for your loss. You were very young to have to cope.

  9. Pat Beaty Atwood says:

    I loved Miss Dunn’s library, all those windows and all the light, and books, and friends, and being up high and able to see a long way out the windows. Who was it that used to torture Miss Dunn’s ivy plants?

  10. missy jones says:

    Does anyone treasure the lunch room at old CHS like I do? Mrs. Winnie Coleman was the manger of the lunchroom, and also working there was Mrs. Brown. Probably others, but I cannot remember their names. They were the sweetest ladies you can imagine. When I was short of cash (which was a lot of times) I would work in the lunchroom for lunch. I remember they made the best fruit cobblers, long pans, of peach and other cobblers, with the best pie crust in the world. Their other foods were all home cooked, not pre-packaged in some far off distant place, but real food cooked just like our mothers did. I don’t remember ever seeing very much food left on the plates. Being brought up as I was, to this day I cannot imagine leaving a lot of your food on the plate, just because you don’t like it, or just not hungry. Remember the old saying, “there are hungry children in China, so clean your plate”? Thanks, Missy Jones, Comanche

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Missy, I seldom ate in the cafeteria until I was a senior in high school. Rickey had graduated, and I was pouting because I was still there! LOL

      Anyway, I decided I’d just roll in my misery by staying at school during lunch and eating in the cafeteria. Oh, my goodness!! It was delicious with homemade rolls and homemade cobbler that was to die for; there was nothing served that was not just like your old granny would have cooked.

    • Vickie Harvick says:

      Winnie Coleman was my grandmother Gore’s sister. Winnie was widowed in her early twenties. She was left with two young children to raise. She cooked for the school lunch room during the week and the auction barn on the weekend. I have a lot of admiration for her. In her older years after she was no longer able to work outside of her home she made quilts. She told me that Roland Roberts was so good to her. He would let her trade her handmade quilts in on her medicene bills. I also am very proud to have some of her quilts. She always seemed to have such a wonderful outlook on life. I remember her as being jolly.

  11. Ron Shaw says:

    Gary Summers & I graduated together in 1971. I remember him signing up & joining the Air Force. He flew resonance flights over Nam. The configuration of those planes required him to fly upside down in order to take pictures. I understand that the was one of the best at it. His photos were so good that each pass he took lined up perfectly with each other with no gaps with each pass. He was on his last mission before coming home. He was shot down on that last mission. I was in college at HPU when I got the call to attend his funeral.

  12. Ron Shaw says:

    Gary Summers graduated with me in 1971. He joined the Air Force right out of High School. I went off to college at HPU. He flew reconnence flights all over Nam. He was one the best at it. His pictures overlapped perfectly with each pass he took. The plane he flew was a F series. The configuration of the plane was such that it had to be flown upside down at low altitude in order to get pictures. Gary was on his last reconnence mission before heading home. He was shot down. Just wish I had half the smarts he had. Great guy!

  13. Diana Guthrie says:

    (I graduated in ’71.)

    I was in Mr. Giesecke’s class when his son was killed. Another teacher had told us about the tragedy to explain his absence. We were taking a math final when he slipped into the room and wrote “Merry Christmas” on the blackboard. That one generous, selfless action by a grieving father still brings tears to my eyes all these many years later.

    I only knew Jerry by sight, but Mr. Giesecke was one of my very favorite teachers and I will never forget him or that day.

  14. Ron Shaw says:

    Too many GOOD memories to recall them all here. I remember Emmitt, Archie Boyd (high pockets), Coaches Jolly, Westmoreland, West, Andrews (both) David & Leta, Mrs. Martin & her Canniberry Tails, Jerry Hulsey with Red Badge of Courage, Mrs. Palmer & the Gettysburg Address. I remember the pledge of allegiance to the flag. WOW What happened with that??? Yes I never ate anywhere but at the school lunch room. Could not afford to eat out. I remember Charlie, Steve & myself making sulfur nitrate in the science lab. Pop gun caps. When it was mixed up it was liquid it’s stable. BUT, when it dries it’s extremely unstable. The pop cap gun rolls have small amounts on them & only make a popping noise. However we made a flask half full of it. We spread it on a paper towel & lay in the window to dry, If u breathed too hard it would go off. Principle Lee Presswood came down from his office because he could hear the popping going on.

  15. Ron Shaw says:

    When Mr. Presswood walked into the science lab, we forgot he had put a very large piece of paper towel full of this stuff on he floor by the front door. Needless to say he stepped on it & BOOOMM!!!! It blew of his shoe heal. :-)

  16. Dyan Cantrell Luper says:

    I do remember that old building, though I don’t remember anything about separate doors for boys and girls. I graduated in 1971. I remember the hailstorm in summer 1970 that took out most of the windows on the southside. The ruler that Miss Dunn used to make sure boys and girls sat at least a foot apart in the library! LOL Was sorry to see it torn down although I’m sure it would have cost a heap of $$ to restore it. Glad they saved the bell tower. I went to the 40-yr reunion in 2011 and visited some of the old sites around town.

  17. Janice Boyd Chandler says:

    I am so glad that I went to high school at this building…..oh, all the memories made there. The tall windows open with the breezes blowing {that was our air conditioning}, Hulsey teaching us Shakespeare, mingling with upper classmen, climbing those wide stairs, “don’t you see” teaching typing, all four classes meeting in the auditorium to hear speakers like Bobby Arthur, senior play and Mrs. Martin trying her best to control us. SO THANKFUL for that time I spent in that icon building. We didn’t have TAKS tests but we had great teachers and were successful after graduating from dear old CHS!!

  18. Lavonne Stone says:

    When I was in school there, there was no rule that the boys went in one door and the girls in another. I do remember that the girls could not wear pants – dresses or skirts only. Great memories in this building. I graduated in 1959.

  19. Glynda Day Lane says:

    I graduated in 1958. The photo of the school is a copy of an 8×10 picture in the 1957 Arrowhead. The girl in the full skirt white dress is Anita Edmondson, then Ann Massingill & Jim Dudley. The three on the right with backs to camera- plaid shirt- I believe is Danny Mims and the girl beside him looks like Tommye Dunlap.

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