Emhouse High closed in the late 1950s, but its history has not
been forgotten. Daily Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA
10/1/2003 INSIDE NAVARRO COUNTY: Revisiting Emhouse High
The following is an essay written by
Frost High School student Jeff Montgomery in Spring, 2003 for King Cotton, Oral History Magazine.
I've lived outside of the huge city of
Emhouse for eleven years. Ever since I can remember, there has been the Volunteer Fire Department, a few churches, the old abandoned gin, and the Post Office (a group of mailboxes underneath a carport). But a few years ago, I noticed a large brick
building that was surrounded by overgrown grass and trees. I asked my Dad about it, and he casually told me that it was once a school. School? I knew of no school. I had always thought that a town had to have a population of 200 to have the privilege of a school. Yes, Emhouse had a school and my grandfather
graduated from it. This was too much. I had to find out more.
My 64 year-old grandpa, Edgar Montgomery, graduated from Emhouse High in 1957. He was the only boy in a class of four. (I am related to three of those four seniors.) He let me borrow his senior yearbook to glance
through. I thought Frost was small. There were four Seniors, three Juniors, ten Sophomores, and a Freshman. Since it was a girl, would she be a Freshwoman? The elementary had more, but not really anything to write home about. They had 58 students in grade 1-8.
As I talked to my grandpa, I finally got to the questions I really cared about. What kind of sports did the Emhouse Pirates
play? They played basketball, baseball, and track. In basketball, they even played in the Frost Tournament with other long forgotten schools like Barry, Purdon, and Richland. Yet ... I kept waiting for more to be mentioned. I kept waiting. Well ... What about football? "We didn't have football," my grandpa
responded. The sentence hit me like 10,000 volts of electricity. NO FOOTBALL!!! Every town around here thrives on football. I kept trying to convince him that he had just lost his memory. But no, he insisted Emhouse did not play football. I tore through his yearbook trying to prove him wrong. However, the only sports
pictures I could find were boy and girls basketball pictures. No wonder the school closed down! I tried to move on after this shock, but it was difficult. So I sat back and thumbed through the '57 yearbook while he watched the Western channel on Direct TV.
Let's see here ... Annual staff ... F.H.A. ...Paper staff ... 4-H ...Student Council ... Wait a second! These are the same people!
They just switched poses. That blew my mind, but it got better. Personality photos were next. My grandpa, being the only guy in the Senior class, was in every single photo. Man, he was popular. I wish that ran in the family instead of a gut and receding hairlines.
Though the school was small, it served as an epicenter for town activities: primarily high school sports. There was also a school-wide
carnival held in the gym. Each class sponsored a booth featuring games and snacks. The Senior class -- yes, all four of them -- ran a dunking booth. And we can't forget Coronation.
Coronation was held once a year in the school's auditorium. This event was more than naming a high school king or queen, for the whole school was involved. Each class voted a male and female couple to
represent them. This couple became candidates for king and queen. Grades 1-8 crowned a King and Queen of High School. The stage was eloquently decorated for an evening ceremony featuring the crowning of the royals.
Grandpa couldn't remember exactly, but he thought
Emhouse School closed in 1958 or 1959. Unfortunately, after World War II America's population began shifting from rural to urban and suburban areas. Part of the reason was that many returning veterans used the GI Bill of Rights to further their education at a college or trade school. Then they often pursued
careers that took them far from rural small towns.
Another reason was the change in agricultural technologies. Simply, one man with a tractor could accomplish more work, covering more acreage, with better return than a man with a plow and a team of
mules. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, by 1954 the number of tractors on farms had exceeded the number of horses and mules. In cotton producing areas like Navarro County, farm labor wages were sagging while the use of cotton strippers for harvesting were increasing. In the U.S., an
average person could pick 200 pounds of cotton a day earning $2 per 100 pounds. That's right -- only $4 a day! A man could pick on average 15 pounds of cotton an hour, but a one row stripper could harvest 500 pounds in an hour.
With a dwindling student population, coupled with a
decrease in state funding, Emhouse consolidated with Corsicana and Blooming Grove. Like many other small communities of the era, people in Emhouse were saddened by the loss of their school.
Now that I think about it, I guess Emhouse wasn't so different from Frost. Maybe they didn't have as many people, or foo... foo... football. But they had a School Board of Trustees, a superintendent -- B.H.
Megason, teachers, cooks, janitors and bus drivers. The school taught Math, English, Science, History and Ag. Everyone knew everyone, and they didn't have to worry about metal detectors and the criminal elements they're intended to eliminate. At first, I couldn't imagine being in a school that small. But now
I've realized something, I don't have to.
Article used with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun.
|| Articles Index
All rights to this story reserved. Copyright
Corsicana Daily Sun and Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc,. Content may not be archived, retransmitted, saved in a database, or used for any commercial purpose without
the express written permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun and CNHI.