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Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1965 Message List
Patrick Henry Elementary Penitentiary.... - 12
02/12/11     Archie Thomasson  (1965)      Archer1710@msn.com
Patrick Henry Elementary Penitentiary....

Enough of these Clearview postings!!!! John, if neither you nor Wes will stand up for our humble abode....I will fire the first shot'.
The first and second grades were normal, as I had Miss Emily Woodford, who took us into the second grade, no doubt because of our great manners and good looks. The third and fourth grade was with Mrs. Morris, who once again felt compelled to hold on to these 'little darlings'. The fifth grade was Mrs. Joyce. Then I moved to Danville for the sixth grade and the first month of the seventh grade.
It was then that 'all normalcy ended', and I moved back to Martinsville.
It was in October of 1959, when the Principal, and my father escorted me to Cell 201 (I think), into the lair of a genuine Fire Breathing Dragon, named Miss Hilda Marshall. As we walked the halls in route to this most distant classroom in the building, quiet small talk of 'she'll larn this young'un', just like she larn'd my pappy, my granpappy, and me' echoed from my father and the Principal.
My father, dressed in his Army uniform, was proud to 'drop me' into the throngs of this
Bible quoting, possibly slave owning, member of the 'United Daughters of the Confederacy'. After handing me over to Miss Hilda, he saluted, and quickly retreated into the halls of PHEP. It was the duty of 'real' Martinsville sons and daughters to learn under the tutelage of 'Miss Hilda', where among other things, you got a profound initiation to what the first 8 weeks of Army life, or 'Basic Training' was all about. Her classroom occupied the last room on the second floor of PHEP. Reflecting, I wonder if that was by design? As it was only fitting that 'Miss Hilda' guard the back wall of the building. Surely no enemy, Clearview, Joseph Martin, nor even a stray Yankee would penetrate these walls. It was under the picture of Robert E. Lee that we learned the social order of a civilized society. If Miss Hilda were alive today, I know that she would be in that Maximum Security Prison, Red Onion(?), in Southwest Virginia, as no prayer in school, no pledge of allegiance, and no Lee-Jackson Day, would be more than Miss Hilda could bear. Martinsville would still be 'Tara', and Miss Hilda as 'Scarlet O'Hara', or perhaps the 'Belle of the Confederacy', in their annual fund drive to restore the outhouse where General JEB Stuart relieved himself, on his 'road to Glory'.
Among the many things that I learned from Miss Hilda, was that it was not the 'Civil War', it was the 'War Between the States', and most correct as labeled by Miss Hilda, the 'War of Northern Aggression'. According to Miss Hilda, the Mason Dixon Line was a great place to put a border up, where they could at least paint a yellow stripe on your car to let the good people of the South know that you were a 'yandkee'. Illegal immigrants wouldn't stand a chance with Miss Hilda. Phil Gardner (from Rocky Mount), and me (moving from Danville) were the closest fit to Illegal immigrants. Heaven forbid we had any Mexicans in there.
But I survived, as did we all, and probably learned more out of pure fear than I would have in any other class. Among the many lessons I learned from Miss Hilda was that there is a social pecking order in the 'ville', which I put to good use after learning the four R's....Reading, Riting, Rithmetic, and the Road to Ro-a-noke!!....archie

Oh, with a footnote....I also learned it is 'May I go to the bathroom?', not 'Can I go to the bathroom?' That's an inside joke for those of us who actually got the opportunity to see Miss Hilda explode into her tirade on 'the English Language'....archie

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