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© 1999--2009

Sondra Davis



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Amazing isn't it?  Many of us have vivid memories of very early childhood, but spend a lot of time looking for the eyeglasses in our pocket.

I'm hoping that a few personal memories of West School, before we hurled ourselves into the Great Unknown that was Willis High, will be of interest to my former classmates.

First, I recall a class project, probably 2nd or 3rd grade, wherein we all signed a sheet of paper, which was sealed in one of those long, tubular olive jars, and placed a the roots of a small tree which we planted near the school.  In those days, before plastic became so plentiful, the jar had a metal lid, and I wonder if our list survived the elements or escaped destruction from construction. I wonder if our improvised time capsule still exists, either at the roots of that tree, or in the memory of the classmates involved.

Secondly, our childhood occurred at a time when imagination and improvisation were essential in answering that age-old question, "What are we gonna do today?"  Often, for lack of any alternatives, some of us boys would gather the required equipment (stones and a tin can), and engage in a rousing game of "duck-on-the-rock." Without benefit of helmets, safety goggles, knee-pads, and 911 access, we engaged in a game of unknown danger, which required that we run past the can, while others hurled stones at it. Today, I proudly wear a scar in my right eyebrow, as a testimonial to my bravery and bad luck.

Third, who remembers those huge stick-pretzels, that were available in the basement/lunch room at West School, for a mere penny?  That basement, incidentally, was where most of us developed a lot of skill in bartering, as we swapped sandwiches, fruit, etc.

Fourth, it's no secret that many of the products we take for granted, today, were in very short supply, in our early days at West School.  As an example, rubber bands were so scarce, they became a real novelty, and only mailmen and a few other select people had them. This, at a time when recycling first came into its own, and was done in earnest and out of necessity, as opposed to the ingenuine attempts we see today.  Remember scrap drives?

And, who doesn't remember those awe-inspiring lessons-in-life that came out of the public address speakers in our classrooms on rare occasions.  How about the little story we heard over that system, in Ms. Wood's third grade class, about the boys who spent a lot of time pulling the wings off flies?  And, does anyone remember that Ms. Wood's favorite poem was "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer, and that we all aced the memorization of that poem?  And, why, pray tell, would I remember such trivia?

So, dear friends and casual acquaintances, as we continue to pay homage to our journey through Willis, let's not forget the elementary school that prepared us for the voyage.  West School:  the little school that could--and did.

Regards and all that,

Larry Wine



Larry Wine, Class of '56, is retired after 24 years in the Marines.  He and his wife, Phyllis Rayburn, Class of '59, reside in York, South Carolina.  He sent in the following memories of West School.  Thanks, Larry.