With city officials accepting proposals for the Blue Building property, it has created the obvious question, “What will be the next step for this historic building?”
It has brought memories. For greater than 60 years, the building saw thousands of elementary and high school students pass through its doors. It was a place where students grew in the form of education, life lessons, and maturity. Some would look at the building and say, “If those walls could talk …” so we gathered a few former students to do just that.
Carol Cathcart, Tammy Crouch, Mark Fann, Tamela Judd and Danny Cummings all walked the halls of the current Blue Building as students and took a recent stroll down memory lane.
Danny Cummings spoke of principal Roy Wiseman saying, “You didn’t mess with him. Zora Waldrop sent me to his office one time. Being sent to his office, was like being sent to the electric chair. I got there and he made me wait all afternoon and then told me to come back the next morning, so I had to think about it all night.”
Cummings also told of his love for PE class and told great stories of the late, great Charles Dalton and his basketball talents. Of course, the infamous spiral fire escape came into conversation. Cumming’s said, “We were just at the age of getting hair under our arms, and they told us that they would pull them out one-by-one if we got on that slide!”
Carol Cathcart, speaking in reference to the fire escape, said, “We were not allowed to wear pants, and we would have to catch our dresses as they flew up when we had to go down it for fire drills. Even when they did start to allow us to wear pants, we had to wear tunics that came down past our bottoms.”
Cathcart, on a more serious note, expounded upon her time at City Junior High, “Arrie-Mae Smith, Helen Elkins, Diane Stanley, Velma Davenport, Dorothy Harding and Anna Pearl McNeal, all of who are long gone, except Diane, will always hold a special place in my heart for fostering my desire to learn. They are the reason I wanted to become a teacher.”
Tammy Crouch attended Southside for her seventh grade school year in 1977. That was the last year the building schooled the next generation. As Tammy stood in the area that was once the gym she said, “We all learned sign language. We didn’t have phones and texting then, so when we all went into the auditorium, we used sign language to talk to each other. This would be unheard of now.”
Mark Fann, who was unable to attend the Blue Building visit, sent in his best memory, “I attended there my eighth grade year of 1969-70. Before a planned fire drill, Donald Crisp and I were sent down the three-story spiral fire escape so our pants would clean the slide before the girls went down. They did not want them to get their dresses dirty.”
Tamela Judd told stories of attending her kindergarten year of 1970-71 at the Southside School building. Judd laughed as she reminisced, “I was so young. I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember Rocky Simmons would pick on me every day.” In regard to Judd’s hopes for the building’s future, “It would be neat for it to be back as a house or maybe a bed and breakfast.”
It is said the structure does not make any building significant. It is the memories made there, and the result of city’s decision to accept proposals for the future of the property will decide the direction of those future memories for the next generations.