THE CLASS OF '41
Dawson High School
Navarro Co. Texas
The 1930 Dawson, Texas First Grade Class picture presented the 1941 Dawson
High School Graduating Class. Forty-one students were pictured and there
were several absent that day. Mrs. Mae Agee from Mount Pleasant, Texas was
the teacher, but she was, apparently, too tired to stand for the class
picture. Imagine....fifty first grade pupils for a single teacher.
1930 was the first year that Texas schools permitted six year olds to enter
First Grade and Mrs. Agee's pupils included all seven year olds who would
have begun First Grade on the old system, all six year olds under the new
system...plus...several pupils who had not been promoted to the second grade
the year before, most of whom were eight before September 1, 1930, and some
who became nine soon after that date. Derral Moore and William Lynn Matthews
(born Feb. 1923) were placed in the Second Grade soon after the picture was
Two pupils, brothers whose names are not remembered, offer a faint smile for
the picture. The other pupils have grim expressions. The Stock Market had
crashed the previous Fall and the grim looks may have been the result of
pupils readying for The Great Depression, problems of growing up in Dawson,
participating in World War II, and finding a place in the outside world.
Mrs. Mae Agee was a tall, stately lady who dressed nicely, always had her
hair arranged properly, drove a four door 1928 Chevrolet, loved children,
and must have been well organized to keep fifty pupils occupied each day
from eight am to two-thirty pm. Class began each day with a pledge to the
Flag of the United States, the singing of "My Country Tis of Thee," and
recitation of "The Lord's Prayer." Pupils memorized and learned to write the
alphabet, learned to count and write numbers, were introduced to social
skills, taught to respect our elders and government officials. and made to
realize that discipline was an important virtue in life.
The logistics of having fifty children needing a drink of water or having to
go to the school toilets must have been a full time job in itself. Toilets
were low wooden structures located to the rear and on each side of the three
story school building....girls on the east, boys on the west. The carpenters
who built the structures had sawn holes of various sizes into the wood
seat...small, medium, large. There were no doors, but a wooden fence in
front gave a degree of privacy. High school age boys used the area for
smoking cigarettes and kept a close watch for Mr. Head or Mr. Herring
through knot-holes in the boards.
Once, probably my first or second day at school, my Mother had dressed me in
short pants buttoned to my shirt. The buttons were, apparently, easy to
undo, but I was experiencing difficulty re-attaching the two garments.
Someone must have informed Mrs. Agee that Tubby Matthews was in the toilet,
crying and unable to button his pants up. She came to the rescue in Motherly
fashion. I always wore overalls after that...no buttons.
J. Manley Head was principal, wore spats, had a mustache, slicked his hair
in place, and sang "Old Man River." He became aware that some pupils were
not being provided with milk at home. V T Matthews had a dairy and could
supply milk to school children, but funds were not available. Mr. Head
organized a "Milk at School" Fund Raiser...an operetta with real costumes
that utilized local talent. Mr. Head, of course, sang the male lead role,
and Mrs. Robert Hill sang the lead female role. I was dressed in a Robin Red
Breast costume with wings, etc. and stood by Mrs. Hill as she sang "The
"Robin Red Breast, we two alone, will build a love nest all of our own. And
then our dreams will all come true, for Robin Red Breast...I...Love...You."
There must have been some hugging and kissing as the production came to an
end and that gave me the idea to carry the idea to the First Grade. Mary
Louise Lowrimore was the cutest little girl in the class and sat across the
aisle from me. I stood up, crossed the aisle, and gave Mary Louise her first
kiss...outside of family...and returned to my seat. She must have liked it
for she didn't slap me. Or...she may have been surprised and shocked! Later,
after Mrs. Agee had reported the incident to my Mother, I was informed that
little boys did not kiss their cousins. Mary Louise was off limits from then
Audrey Lancaster, my giggling cousin and my best buddy, and I were staying
after school one day to rehearse for something. Mrs. Agee kept "Study Hall"
after the First Grade was dismissed at two-thirty and had seated Audrey and
me near the front of the huge room on the third floor. We occupied the time
by drawing pictures of each other on our Indian Chief tablets. Back and
forth the pictures went across the aisle. I was in awe of the principal and
of Mr. Herring, the superintendent. I had just completed drawing a really
scary picture of Audrey and noticed someone peering over my shoulder. It was
Mr. Herring. I was so frightened that I completely lost control of my
bladder. Mr. Herring complimented me on the drawing, smiled, and went on his
way as I sat there in soaked overalls.
Years later, 1943, I stood with another member of that First Grade, Claude L
Holt, when he married Audrey in Fort Worth. Claude L. left the next day to
return to his Army duty station.
Travis Tekell and I would swing together on the playground in a shortened
swing that we called our "Little Hot Chocolate Car." Travis died in 1939
from some illness. It was on that set that Felix "Teedum" Lawrence was
headed head first...a daring thing...down the metal slide. A piece of metal
had come loose and caught Teedum in the chin and caused an ugly, bloody
gash. Teedum, later, apparently was a victim of polio that left
one leg shortened. He never married and died in Fort Worth.
Several in the picture, Jimmy Graham, Lorraine
McGregor, Douglas Berry, Dewey Baker, and I represented Dawson Grammar
School at the 1937 County Meet held at the State Orphans Home in Corsicana
and won 2nd Place in Math. Hoyt Harris was math teacher and Principal.
My family moved from Dawson in 1939, but I stayed in touch with many of
those who were in that First Grade. Audrey Lancaster and Lorraine McGregor
went to nursing school in Fort Worth. Derrel and Joyce Lynn Moore moved to
Brownwood, Texas. Duward Burns and J W Reedy moved away. Magdalene Milligan
became a beauty consultant at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, married , and move to
Most of the boys were in service in World War II. Joe Jr. Freeland and
Duward Burns were killed in Europe when ther planes were shot down. Jimmy
Graham became an Army First Sergeant in Europe. Others served at Anzio, the
Battle of the Bulge, Normandy, Iwo Jima, aboard ships at sea and on planes
in the air.
W T Berry, Billy Ruth Lawrence, and I were with the Marines during the
invasion of The Marshall Islands and Saipan in The Marianas. W T was wounded
on The Marshalls, I was wounded on Saipan, Billy Ruth was wounded at Iwo
Jima. Billy Ruth and I met in Maui, Hawaii after the Marshall invasion and
over several 2 oz bottles of medicinal brandy I confessed that I had been
frightened and inquired if he had the same experience. He replied, "Hell
yea...never been so scared in all of my life." I was comforted.
Bubba Pitts and Tedum Lawrence became accountants. Douglas Ray Berry was
with a large corporation in Pennsylvania and died there. Jimmy Graham
returned from service, never married, worked in Dallas, and died early in
Dawson. Hugh Louis Womack retired from the Air Force and lives in Waco.
Weldon "Puddin" Wells came home, became a pharmacist, owned drug stores in
San Angelo. Claude L Holt had a career with a chemical company near Houston.
J Olin Lawler became a Baptist preacher. David Allard had a career with the
railroad. William Lynn Matthews retired from the Army and died in an
automobile accident. J R Hoge was in the Navy, (we spent Christmas Day 1942
together in San Diego), came home after the war, became a policeman in Waco,
died early. Billy Ruth Lawrence had a teaching career with the Irving, Texas
Sixty-nine years have passed since that First Grade Class began in Dawson.
Their lives were influenced by teachers.....Eula Lockwood, Miss Mixon,
Bertha Guggolz from Brownwood, Gaston T Gooch, Hoyt Harris, H C Filgo, Coach
Granthan, Coach Nichols, Lola Bills Head, and others. They would not have
been ashamed of the accomplishment of their students whose combined lives
would make quite a story.
in the Class Picture 1930
Zola Grubbs ...H C Pitts ...Magdalene Milligan
J Olin Lawler ....Charles.... Lynch Bufford Davis
Felix Lawrence... R B Hardy ....Derral Moore
Jimmy Graham... Lorraine McGregor... Douglas Ray Berry
Duward Burns... Audrey Lancaster ...Joe Bruce Martin
Mary Louise Lowrimore ...J W Reedy ....Carl W Matthews Jr.
Joe Freeland Jr. ...Joyce Lynn Moore .....Douglas Bankston
Dorothy Bankston... Hugh Louis Womack ...Claude L Holt
Billy Ruth Lawrence ....Travis Tekell ....David Allard
Ike Fralik ....Wm Lynn Matthews ....J R Hoge
Joe Garner Jr. ....W T Berry.... GeorgiaKendrick
Dewey Baker..... Seven Unknowns
CLASS MEMBERS NOT IN THE PICTURE
Weldon Earl Wells ...Earl Douglas Graves... Dorothy Matthews
Dawson Class of 1941
1130 Madlynne Dr
Cedar Hill TX 75104