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Doing carpentery work while wearing my WMTC cap given to me by Seldon Short

 

 

Mount Carmel

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Because it has been fifty-eight years since I graduated from Mt. Carmel, I could not remember most of my school and class mates. For this reason, I put off writing any further until I was able to obtain a list of my classmates. A few months ago, Ms. Celia Davis, the work horse of the Former Students Association, so graciously sent me a list of the students in my class along with the ones who graduated the year before and the year after.These are the members who were in my class, the class of 1950: Betty Harris, Ina Johnson, Daniel Bryant, Jake Bryant, Donna Holzhauer, Mossie Harris, Faye Johnson, Lloyd Harris, Maxine Miller, Wilma Jackson, Glenna Taulbee, Nora Ouderkirk, Howard Parker, Maurice Tolan, and Darrell York.

Missing from the list were a few of my classmates. Kenneth Haddix, who was a  very talented artist as well as a cartoonist. He lived at the Haddix Farm, near KMBI. When we had our Junior play, it was a scoff of the seniors and their years at Mt. Carmel. He suggested that we do a puppet show. He made a puppet in the likeness of each senior and showed us how to work them. I wrote the script. It was a very successful production. I met him a few years later in Pontiac, Mi. We reminisced about our school days. He informed me that he had given up his art work. He died a few years later. Another person's name was Delbert Jett. He was the envy of all of us boys. A classical handsome boy who was always sparkling clean. I wished that I knew his secret.

Seeing these names, brought back some fond memories. I can still see Lloyd Harris entertaining us boys by playing his quitar in his room. I tried to do it without any luck. Lloyd's sister Mossie was like a sister to me. Their older brother,David "Cotton for his curley blond hair", had graduated a year ealier. When playing basket ball, Maurice Tobin, could make a basket from thirty feet easier than I from five. I used to visit Howard Parker in his room. Glenna Taulbee was the smartest, and, if I can say, the cutest and she was the class Valdictorian. Daniel Bryant would always come by my room in the morning before we went to class. All members of this class were special and we worked well together in our class projects.

Looking back on these days, I realize that I was just like everyone else on their first day off arrival. We had been suddenly uprooted from a family   who had taken care of us and now being placed into an entirely different environment and amongst people whom  we has never known. We all watched as our parents left the campus looking over their shoulders and waving goodbye. Little did we know that all of them were shedding tears as we were. One thing we learned later in life was that they had faith in the people of Mt. Carmel who would be taking care of us that it was the best thing for us at this stage in our life. They wanted not only the best education for us, but also, be taught values that would be our foundation for life. They were correct. Home-sickness was common, but with older children acting like brothers and sisters, they were comforted and soon it disappeared.

These children came from all walks of life, big cities,small towns, mountain hamlets and coal camps. Their parents were pastors, mill workers, farmers, and coal miners. Their previous schools were large, medium, small, and one room schools perched on a dug-out spot on a mountainside. It didn't take us long to know each other and these first day acquaintances became life long friends. As with any group of children, we had a few squabbles and as with with any group, they were easily forgotten. When each class graduated, we said good-bye and hope to see you again and next school year we said hello to our new friends.

I want to thank all of the faculty, my schoolmates, and especially my classmates for being a part of my life that I will never forget. May God bless you.


When I was in the seventh grade at a one-room schoolhouse in Scuddy Hollow, Perry County, Ky. two Mountain Missionaries from Mt. Carmel came to visit our school. My Teachers were Betty Mullins and Naurene Mullins, mother and sister of Ishmael "Junior" Mullins who was my boyhood friend. They were next door neighbors. Naurene was a graduate of Mt. Carmel. The missionaries wanted to give the students Bible lessons. They chose the seventh grade, all three of us, to participate. They would give us certain verses to memorize and each Friday they would come to see how we did. A New Tesatament was a prize for the one who could memorize most verses. I won the prize. The missionaries told Miss. McConnell about me and that our family did not have the means to pay for my attending Mt. Carmel. I got a letter stating that if I wanted to come, I could work my way through school. I gladly accepted.

On the 13th of August, my mother, who had been bedridden with cancer for four years, suddenly took a turn for the worse and died on the 20th of August. I was heartbroken and did not want to leave, but my father said that my mother would have wanted me to go. On the 31st of August, I arrived at Mt. Carmel. I was instantly taken in and I must say, taken care of, by everyone. The whole faculty became my mentors.


The routine at Mt. Carmel suited me to a "T". I was given a bedroom with a steel bunk bed and a desk. Our lights and heat were by natural gas. We had a shower room in the basement bathroom with three stalls. Mr Swauger said that we were allowed three baths a week. This was something for I was used to a N o. 2 wash tuib once week at best.  One thing that impressed me was the size of the library and I believe that before I left Mt. Carmel, I had read almost all the books in it. I did very well in the eight grade and I was the Valdictorian. Daniel Bryant was the Salutatorian. During the school year, I ironed clothes for some of the boys to earn some spending money. On graduation day, while ironing my white shirt, I put a big scortched spot on the collar. I was devasted, but Miss Reed saw what I had done and she hurriedly found another shirt for me.

I, along with several other boys,  stayed at Mt. Carmel during the summer months working to help pay our way through school. I milked the cows, fed the chickens, mowed the lawns and any other work that was necessary. One of my duties was to get the mail from the postoffice which was a short distance from the school. One day, I was carrying a very heavy load up the hillside and I was realy struggling. Ms. Swartwout was watching me and she asked me why I was trying to carry it all in one trip. She said that was the sign of a lazy person who would carry too much in one load and not make not two. That stuck with me all through my life.

One of the exciting times of that summer is when Mrs. Paulo came home from the hospital with her beautiful baby girl. I baby sat with her many times while her parents were working. This was a very special family.

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Mr. and Mrs. Paulo and Family
This photo was sent to me many years ago by Mrs. Paulo

 

Just before the start of the school year, there was aways a revival meeting that lasted several days. Almost every one in the association came. There would be several ministers giving sermons, prayer meetings, testifying, and singing. One of my favorite ministers was Mr. Fisher. Just to listen to him made one feel good.

Going to high school was a great thrill for me. I was now a young man and not a boy any more. I had successfully climbed another rung on the ladder. Most of my eight grade classmates had returned and we soon settled down to begin a new adventure. Our classes were Bible Study, Health, Algebra, and English. We had the same routine as we had the year before. One class I enjoyed was algebra because it was like puzzle solving. My Freshman year came and went as I recall without too much fanfare. I received good grades, but not spectacular.

I did the same chores through the summer months as I had done the year before. I believe that KMBI radio station was built in this year with Mr. Fisher as the mamager. I know that I saw the three-hundred foot tower being built. You have heard the joke abourt what does a mountain boy say when he looks up at the Empire State Building? "Tuh". That was me looking up at the top of the tower.

Two of my best friends for life, Seldon Short and Robert Cundiff, came to Mt. Carmel in my sophomore year. Little did I know what the future that these two would have! I remember the day that they arrived. Daniel Bryant introduced me to Robert and from that day on, we were friends. Seldon and I were like two peas in a pod. Also arriving, was Janet Baldwin, daughter of Royal Baldwin. Both Royal and her Uncle Francis were ministers at the Methodist Church in Vicco when I was born. My mother and father were members of the church. My mother named me Royal Francis. I met her father when he brought her there.


During that school year, it was detemined that a new girls's dormitory and dining hall was needed. Mr. Swauger drew up the plans. He instructed me how to build the model for the new building. When it was completed, he and I carried it on stage during a school morning service. It was covered with a white sheet. He had me pull off the sheet and the students and faculty cheered and clapped their hands. My favorite subject  in my sophomre and junior years was Latin. I excelled in Latin. I wrote stories that were published in the National Latin Club's journal.

That same year,  Paul Major, a recently discharged WW11 veteran, came to Mt. Carmel. At the end of the school year, construction started on the new building. Mr. Swauger was the general manager and  instructor. There were several boys there working, including John Prater, Seldon Short, Junior Mullins, Paul Major, and Mr. Richards. We had a large planer that Mr. Swauger had rigged a 1938 Buick motor to it. We had a natural gas line hooked to a converter on the motor to make it run. Ever so often, I had to open a valve to get rid of oil that would accumulate.  Mr. Swauger taught me how to plane the wood.  While two of us planed the wood, the other boys carried it to the site. Paul drove a bulldozer that was loaned to the school to excavate the basement.We mixed the mortar carried the mortar and cement blocks so that Paul and Mr. Richards could lay the blocks. Mr. Swauger taught me how to use a survey scope for leveling the foundation. I learned how to use the square and when I put an addition on my house several years ago, I was able to use it to get the right pitch on my roof.

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Mr. Raymond Swauger, my mentor
Courtesy of the MCFSA website

 

Before we started on the building, there was a rain storm that flooded the excavated site. While we were waiting for the water to sink, I built a raft for me to play on. It was a hit and talked about for several months. Mr. Swauger taught me carpentry work that I have used until this day. With a lot of hard and dedicated work from all of us there that summer, we were able to complete the building and finally, the day arrived when the new building was dedicated.

 

 

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