JAMES HAUGHT RECOLLECTIONS: GRANTSVILLE GRADE SCHOOL - The War Years

(11/30/2017)

By James C. Haught
wjhaught@verizon.net

It was Labor Day weekend in 1939. My family was visiting my grandparents, James and Lydia Hoskins on Spring Run. On Monday, 4 September 1939 Hitler’s Armies invaded Poland. The next day I enrolled in Spring Run School.

My teacher was Amy Downs, a cousin. The first grade was made up of my cousins, Bob Moneypenny and Irene McKown. I had several other cousins in other grades.

This lasted for about a month. I became homesick and cried for my mother and father who lived on Mt. Zion Ridge.

The next Monday I caught the school bus and enrolled in Grantsville Grade School. My first grade teacher was Hovah Hall. She would later become Hovah Underwood (Mrs. Cecil Underwood) and the first lady of West Virginia.

Those first few days were really tough on a little seven year old boy. Friendships were already established. I was left out in the cold. But after a few days during recess Bobby Gunn and Mack Fowler ask me to play with them.

Class was just fine. Miss Hall was strick but fair. I could remember she would write our names in red chalk when we could say our ABC’s and count to 100.

The first person to do so was Loretta Ann Poling. She was brilliant. Later she would be valedictorian of the class at Calhoun High School. Loretta would marry Ronald Godfrey, unquestionably the greatest running back of Calhoun High School. After about six weeks I could say my ABC’s and count to 100.

Thelma Stump taught our second grade. Her daughter Margery was in our class. She was a very outgoing girl. Later Margery and I would attend West Virginia University together. Later in the 1990’s I would eat lunch with Mrs. Stump at a lunch room in Grantsville.

There was an incident in Mrs. Stump's class that would have deep impact on my life. Head lice was a common problem in Grantsville Grade School.

A boy who sat in front of me in class had long hair. I was fascinated when the lice would craw out of his hair and onto his shirt collar then back into his hair. I believe this incident played a part in my becoming a biologist.

Pictures were being taken at school. I looked pretty disheveled. I didn’t have a comb. An upper classman, Glenn Flower, combed my hair. My Mom was amazed at how good I looked in my school picture. Glenn has always been one of my heroes.

I cannot remember the first name of my third grade teacher. She was just Mrs. Yoak. At Thanksgiving she chose me to act as Miles Standish in a school play.

There was a movable partition in the third grade classroom. So I got to act before two classes. Even the Principal, Joe Haught, came to see the performance.

On 7 December 1941 while I was in the third grade World War II began.

We began collecting metal and doing things for the war effort. One day Mrs. Yoak said that we need to conserve paper. We needed to conserve the paper we were writing on and we need to conserve the toilet paper. Brad Young spoke up and said. “Mrs. Yoak, I can bring in an extra Sears, Roebuck Catalog for the bathroom.”

My parents and grandparents always grew rows of Dent white corn for making meal. We had our meal ground at a grist mill at Mt Zion. We always ate white corn bread.

About the time I was in the third grade at Grantsville Grade School they started serving school lunches. It was usually soup and yellow corn bread. I liked it so much better. It took me several years to convince my mother that people could eat yellow corn as well as pigs.

Years later the Calhoun Alumni Association got off to a good start with money and work given by our class mate Kitty Lou Leggett.

Kitty was a dynamic kid in elementary school. She was full of enthusiasm. She was a very close friend of Virginia Weaver. Virginia would marry Orville Buck and work at the bank. She was good in helping my mother manage her banking needs.

Mr. Haught was a distant relative. He played no favorites. I like to fight. One day I went to the area where we cut fire wood and got me a large chip and put it in my pocket. When I got to school I walked around the playground with the chip on my shoulder.

A boy by the name of Ball came up to me and ask, “Why do you have a chip on your shoulder?”

“Knock it off and you will find out,” I responded. He did and we got into our first fight. Mr. Haught paddled us for fighting.

We had two more fights and two more paddlings from Mr. Haught. After the last one he said. "Boys I only have one other way to get you to quit fighting. If you get into any more fights you have to kiss each other.”

That stopped the fighting.

Joseph Haught, our principal would enter the United States Army Air Corp. He would serve as a bombardier over Germany. His plane was shot down and he spent the rest of the war in a German Stalag.

I saw him one more time when he got home after the war. Mr. Haught died in a plane crash while landing at the Clarksburg Airport.

Like Sydney Underwood my fourth grade teacher was Oda Mae Marshall. I remember learning fractions. We also had a history book that told stories about American heroes like George Washington, Daniel Boone, Jedediah Smith, Walt Disney, Jane Adams, etc.

Mrs. Marshall was a very strict teacher. One day I had misbehaved in class. She told me to stand up and reach down and grab my ankles. She drew back her paddle. I had timed it perfectly. When she came forward with the paddle I jumped out of the way.

The paddle hit the radiator and stung her hand. I was very proud of myself for about a nanosecond. I now had a teacher who was very mad and she had a paddle in her hand. I never misbehaved in Mrs. Marshall’s class again.

I have already mentioned Loretta Poling and Margery Stump. Some of the other members of my class were Robert Earl Bush, Lindell Arthur, Hoy Dobbins, Earl Hartshorn, Boyd Hosey, Buddy Rhine and Charlie Moss.

There was one girl on whom I had a puppy love crush, Virginia Lee Johnson. Virginia would marry Joe Riddle and they moved to California where he was a college professor.

There were more girls than I can remember. I remember especially Betty Lou Barr, Carolyn Jo Hathaway and Mary Lou Waldo. It is amazing the connections one makes as a child. Mary Lou had a brother, Ray “Boone” Waldo. Ray was principal of Martinsburg High School when I was principal of North Hagerstown High School.

Also like Sydney Underwood we played football every chance we got. Richard Stump and Richard Hathaway were stand outs. Richard Stump would later on play football for West Virginia University. Richard Hathaway drown in the Little Kanawha River.

Another favorite activity was tug-of-war. Someone would bring a rope and the battle would be joined. No sooner would one group get the upper hand than others would join the losing side. This would go on for an entire recess.

Mrs. Cox was our fifth grade teacher. She was unmarried and in love with Benny Riddle. About once each week she would give us time to tell stories. Bill Frame became the major story teller. He had a gem of an idea, then he would elaborate and use the names of people in class. Everyone tried to get Bill to mentioned their name in his stories.

These were the days of the Yo-Yo. Some of the boys would put extra long strings on their Yo-Yo and they would stand on the wall along High Street or the wall between the school and the Holiday house and play with their Yo-Yo’s. Some of the fellows could do all kinds of tricks, especially walking the dog, skinning the cat and the sleeper.

Paul Powell became our principal after Joe Haught went in the Army. Paul also taught our class mathematics. He was very strict. We also had a special reading teacher, Miss Brannon.

15 March 1944 was one of the worst days of my life.

My father had taken a job at Cornwell Station in Kanawha County. I left Grantsville Grade School the previous day. Although Mt Zion was only 50 miles from Cornwell I thought it could be China. I was sure that I would never see many of my dear friends at Grantsville Grade School again.

Attending Sunday School near my new home in Kanawha County my teacher told us that one day God would return to earth to re-establish his kingdom.

She said no one knows when or where that will be.

In the mind of an eleven year old boy I had the place all figured out. When God returns to earth he will pick Calhoun County, West Virginia for his headquarters.


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