The reporters who reported that the Navy Supply Corps School is being “turned over” to the University of Georgia have made a little mistake. The campus is being “returned” to UGA!
The beautiful campus has had a number of lives. Just prior to the Navy’s possession, it was the University of Georgia Teacher’s College, also known as the Normal School. That is why Normal Town has its name. I attended grammar school there in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
They called our school the University Demonstration School. It was operated by the UGA Education Department to provide classrooms for student teachers to gain teaching experience. The students came from the rural, less wealthy areas of Clarke County. We lived in an old, deteriorated house on the Newton Bridge Road at that time.
Actually, it was a great school. Because it was intended to demonstrate proper teaching techniques to student teachers, each class had a highly talented and experienced teacher who was responsible for educating the children and the future teachers. We received plenty of attention from both the lead teacher and the student teachers. I attended the school for nine years, transferring to Madison County High School the year it opened.
Russell Hall, a two-story building just inside the Prince Avenue entrance, was our grammar school. It had six large classrooms, three on the ground floor and three on the second floor. There was a large atrium with stairs on each side and a balcony. That feature led to a popular sport among my 10-year-old classmates. We would buy a heavy, solid wood yoyo and load it with as much cord as it could hold. Then we would yoyo over the balcony hoping we had enough speed to roll it back up to the top.
Another favorite place on campus is an outcropping of granite rocks known to the older kids as the “kissing rocks” by the student teachers. I remember those rocks as being quite large. And for a 7 year old, they were. But today when I see them they have shrunk to a less imposing size. They had two different uses. Late in the evening, around sunset, they were the meeting place for the student teachers and their boyfriends. Thus the name “kissing rocks.”
But during recess each afternoon, they became a fort where young boys engaged in acorn wars. The first group out climbed the rocks while the others lifted trash can lids for shields. These battles usually ended in a truce when a squirrel appeared in the oak trees overhead. The combatants would occupy each side of the tree and bombard the squirrel from all directions.
Have you ever heard a squirrel curse? Some of them were pretty good at it!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.