Before I begin to write about my experiences at Mount Carmel from my eighth grade through high school graduation, 1945-1950, I want to give my profound thanks for the dedication of the entire organization for making me a better person and for a free education. Without them, I do not know where I would have been today. I was always known by my midle name " Francis" and later on Seldon Short and Daniel Bryant nicknamed me "The Cisco Kid", both of them were like brothers to me and have been my life time friends. When I joined the Air Force, I had to use my first name which is Royal. All of my family and friends at Mt. Carmel still call me Francis.
Mt. Carmel High School was founded in 1925. The Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute was founded in 1931, but a flood destroyed it in 1939. It was rebult on higher grounf that same year. It was a two-year college designed to train missionaries for the Kentucky Mountains and foreign service. It later expanded to a three-year college. Children from all over the world as well as Kentucky were admitted. They taught students from the eighth grade through the twelfth grades. The two schools and the missions were known as the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association. Rev. Archer was in charge of the college and Rev. McConnell was in charge of the high school. She was also in charge of the association. They were both graduates of Asbury College, a theological college at Wilmore, Ky. By the time that I had arrived there in 1945, the Kentucky Mountain Holiness Association had expanded to where each school had two well-developed campuses. There were missionaries through out the mountains and the world. Students from the high school were attending the bible school and proceeding into the missions.
The association became world renouned and had benefactors from all walks of life. Mt. Carmel had grown to where it now included farms with buildings to house cattle and chickens. There was a large farm at the college where corn was raised to feed the stock. Each building had natural gas for heating and lighting from the gas wells that were drilled on its property. All of this in fourteen years! How could it happen? Two women who had faith and the people who came afterwards did it. Some of them were fellow graduates of Asbury College and others who had heard of the work that was being done and wanted to help. They were Raymond Swauger, the master planner and physics teacher, Mrs. Swauger the second in charge uinder Miss McConnell; Miss Gennelle Day, Latin and Bible teacher; Ms. Elma Reed, English Teacher, Ms. Mary Swartwout mathmatics teacher, and Ms. Spaatz the master chef, and could she cook. Others came later to help. They were Mr. Forrest and family, Mr. Paulo and family, and also Mr. Cox and Family. I am sure that I have left out a few due to my lack of memory. They were the finest and most dedicated people in the world doing their very best to give us the best education that one could get. None of the workers at either school received any pay whatsoever. They lived on faith that God would take care of them. There were many faiths among them, including Methodists, Quakers, Lutherns, Baptists, and Presbyterians. It was a non-demoniational school. All of these people were kind and gentle people who served as advisers.
Sunday school would be from 10-11 am. There would be several classes with a faculty member as a teacher. Each member had to memorize a verse from the Bible to recite. The teacher then would take a passage from the Bible that was appropriate for that week and explain it to us. The regular church service would start with a prayer and a couple of hymns. Then the Minister would ask if any member wanted to pray. After the prayer, there would be testimonials from whoever wanted to give one. The Minister would give his sermon. The last part would be the call to the altar for anyone who wanted to confess his sins and be saved or to be sanctified. During this call to the altar, the members would be singing a hymn. The one mosty memorable was "Almost Persuaded". There would be several members urging some of us who had not confessed our sins to take this opportunity to do so. It was your decision to go or not. No one was coerced. Sunday was a day for worship and meditation and no games or sports were allowed. However, we would sometimes be invited to the Swaugers on Sunday night to listen to religious records on his windup phonograph.
As stated before, there were several different denominations of churches represented by our faculty, but they all believed in two stages of becoming a Christian. The first stage was confessing your sins and asking forgiveness for them. The second stage was asking for God to rid you of the original sin that all people were born with. My first two years, I never went to the altar. When I was a sophomore, I did go to the altar and I practiced religion for about a month and then I did what was called backsliding. I never went back again. My friends and classmates who continued practicing their faith became missionaries all over the globe and some of them became the backbone of the KMHA.
Religion was in every phase of schooling, but no one was ever forced to accept it. It was up to each student. A typical school day started with breakfast. After breakfast, we had a short time before going to school to gather in the chapel for a forty-five minute service conducted by the students with a faculty member as a host. There would be a student leading the congregation in singing with another student playing the piano. Several times, Mrs. Swauger would sing acappella in her rich baritone voice. She was an excellent piano player and tuner. There would be a few prayers from among the students and if anyone wanted to testify, he could. The leader for the day would give small talk from the Bible and the service would close with a prayer. From there, we would proceed with our classes. Classes would end around 3:30. We did our chores until five when supper was served. At six, we would go back to our classrooms and have study hall for two hours. At nine, we went to bed. Before study hall on Wednesday, there was a forty-five minute prayer service.
We had three meals a day. There were approxinmately nine students assigned to a table for the entire school year. There would be a faculty member at the head of the table. It would be like a well behaved family dinner. One of the students would be called on to say grace. We were taught proper table manners. Ms. Spaatz was an excellent chef. She was assisted by older girl students. When I was a junior in high school, I was assigned to be the potato masher. This was a high honor because I was able to leave study hall fifteen minutes to mash the potatoes for lunch.
One of the meals that I will never forget is one Sunday. Students from Asbury College were visiting us for the day. There would be two or three seated at each table. That day we had mashed turnips and I hated turnips. I thought they were mashed potatoes so I took a big helping. One rule was you ate what you put on your plate. I took one bite and I knew that by being greedy, I had made a big mistake. Ms. Swartwout was at the head of the table. I looked at her and she looked at me as if to say "Eat every bite." It took a lot of doing, but I did. I hated turnips then and I still hate them today. One year, Mr. Swauger was the head of my table. He loved to tell jokes and he always told this one to the new students. He would ask us what was the difference between a watermelon and a sweet pea. When no one answered, he would say fifteen minutes. When we didn't catch on, he would say that when a person eats a piece of watermelon, he would have a sweet pee in fifteen minutes.
We all had tasks assigned for us to do on Monday, a day of labor. Mine was to pick up the boys clothing from the laundry room and hang them on a line to dry. This job was always given to the smallest boy. I did this for several years.
Every election day in November was a day that we all went to the farm and harvest the crops. It was a great day of fun for all of us. Every other Saturday night, everyon, incluiding the teachers, would gather in the dining room to play games. This was the only time that the boys and girls could be together and it was under close supervision. These teachers were responsible for the conduct of the students.
I was always the curious type. I would ask Miss McConnell questions and in most cases, she would answer me. One of the questions that I asked was why there were no Negro children in school. The first thing she said to me was, "I am sorry that there are not." She went on to explain about the segregation policy of Kentucky and by law, she could not have any Negro students. She also said that there were a lot of people who would do harm to the school and to the Negro students and she feared for their safety.
Another question was why no one wore lipstick or jewelry. She said that when at the first convention after the Assiociation was founded, a vote was put before the members of the association concerning the dress code, including the wearing of jewelry and lipstick. After a lengthy discussion, a vote was taken and it was decided agsinst these two items. She could have chosen to brush me aside, but she knew that I was concerned and she took the time to fully answer my questions. Thank God for such a woman!