The Harris Award Part III
The Harris Award was named in honor of Professor H.H. Harris, who served as Principal of Whitesburg High School from 1919 until 1927. It was awarded to a senior boy by the faculty on the basis of leadership, character, and scholastic standing.
Places of Renown
by Janet Ison Tate,
Class of 1956
Our House Grill. John Rufus Hall’s family ran it. There’s where most of us learned to dance. Can’t you just see Baldy Brush dancing to Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame”?
The Dairy Bar. Where we met to listen to the latest hits. It wasn’t really a place to dance, but Mr. Roger Kersey would sort of look the other way. We didn’t drink, we didn’t smoke, but dance we did.
Arlayne Collins’s House. Where everything from cheerleading practice to notorious slumber parties were held. It was a teenage headquarters and a constant hubbub!
The Band Room. Where Hugh Adams, or Uncle Hugh, as we fondly called him, inspired us to love and pursue music. The place to hear Jack Taylor’s, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”. Jack brought us the latest in marching band. He was very demanding and set high standards. One day he became quite frustrated with us and threw down his beloved trumpet in a gesture of “I GIVE UP!” Maybe it was the day that drum majorette, Phyllis Hall, having just turned 14 and new on the job, “forgot to signal the band to play” (not even a single note was played) while we marched down the School Hill, all the way up Main Street, around the courthouse, back down Main Street, and back up the School Hill to the band room, where Jack Taylor was waiting to greet her! Now, that’s the way it was! But, to this very day she still blames Bert Francis for encouraging the band members not to play. But not to worry! Later in band competition when she had become more experienced, Phyllis “knocked ’em dead” and led us to win a trophy at the Big Sandy Bowl. That same day, Ramona Sparks was crowned Queen of the Big Sandy Bowl. A great day for WHS! By the way, Phyllis and Bert are still best friends because later on she realized that it was just her lack of experience that caused the incident.
The Gymnasium. The site of so many activities such as the junior-senior banquets, where Miss Dugan’s classes served the honored upperclassmen. The Marti Gras — the noisy fun, the Carr Creek game we almost won!
The Auditorium. Where many recitals were held. Piano and voice students of Ruth Tolliver, Patsy Ann Fields, Rosa Jones, Martha Holbrook (Boyd), Janette Lewis, Glenna Little, Hugh Adams and Jackie Combs. What masters they were at their craft! That auditorium spawned such voices as Arlayne Collins who later was selected from hundreds of voices to sing a solo from ‘The Messiah’, which was performed in Louisville. She was cited and selected to audition for the Metropolitan Opera in Chicago. Then there was Donelda Breeding playing a Rachmaninoff concert. Barbara Bentley, Kaye Daniel, and Rosemary Collier twirling in tutus in Suzanne Adams’s ballet recital. Buddy Fields, Eugene Sparks, and other football heroes dressed as girls to entertain us at a Halloween Carnival.
How about Chapel? Preachers from the community giving us tiny New Testaments for learned Bible verses. Speakers warning us that one in four of us would get cancer.
The Classrooms. Miss Raleigh’s strict and high expectations. Where writers, speakers, teachers, attorneys were all in the making. Mr. Boyd’s and Mr. Trosper’s classes, where young girls with crushes found it hard to concentrate. Mr. Banks’s classes produced a myriad of engineers, chemists, physicists, and science teachers. Mrs. Combs, sponsoring the Beta Club, where many of us were charter members. Mrs. Hall leading the debate teams. Great teachers! Great times!
(The above article from “The Last Black Kat” distributed at the All-Class Reunion held at the Campbell House in Lexington, July 30, 2005.)