Pampa High School is Remembered by 1932 Graduate

(Several people have asked for copies of my acceptance speech at the Harvester Hall of Fame induction, so I am using it for this Museum Memento. E. L. )

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

I feel a little out of place. I feel that I should be playing the piano while you were singing. . You would make a grand chorus. I am very privileged to be inducted into the Harvester Hall of Fame. I thank Dr. Orr and the School Administration, the Board of Trustees, the Student Council and the Selection Committee for this great honor. I am grateful to the staff of the White Deer Land Museum — Anne Davidson, Robbie Stone and Deborah Chambers — for making the nomination, and I am also grateful to those who wrote letters of endorsement.

I began to think about Pampa High School in the spring of 1921 when I was six years old. I was fascinated by the first high school annual — called “The Harvest.” The editor was Ray Wilson, the first inductee into the Harvester Hall of Fame. The school colors of green and gold were suggested by one of the teachers who was thinking of wheat fields green in the spring turning to gold at harvest time in the summer. The high school faculty consisted of the superintendent and three other teachers. There were nine graduating seniors and three post graduates.

The motto of the senior class was “We finish to begin.” That motto could be used for you students who are here today — for you will soon finish your years as high school students to begin your lives as adults. The class of 1921 was the first to graduate from the new tan brick school building at 126 West Francis. This building had rooms for all eleven grades of the school system and there was an auditorium on the second floor.

The town of Pampa grew rapidly after the discovery of oil and gas, and the school enrollment increased also. Lower grades were sent to the red brick building at 309 North Cuyler and to frame buildings on the edges of the school campus before elementary school buildings were constructed. When I entered high school in the fall of 1928, the tan brick school building was known as Pampa High School. A wing had been added on the east and a wing was soon to be added on the west. We could stand at the front entrance, look down Russell Street toward the railroad tracks, and see the new Schneider Hotel. Later, in 1931, the Pampa High School building and the Schneider Hotel were named as two of the buildings on Pampa’s “Million Dollar Row.”

The other buildings in that group were constructed during the four years I was in high school. The Central Fire Station replaced a small red brick building located where there had once been a hitching rack for horses. The Pampa City Hall had an audi- torium with 1,000 seats on the second floor, and the City Library was in the base- ment. The City Hall was on the site of the former city water well where water was hauled in horse-drawn wagons to be sold to citizens of the town for $0.25 a barrel, A large stock watering tank of corrugated iron was located near the water well.

The Gray County Court House was erected on land where high school boys had practiced football and a Queen of the May was crowned on May Day while children wove colored streamers around the maypole, In summer there were tent revival meetings, chautauquas and Harley Sadler tent shows. The Texas Highways magazine for August, 2002 has an article about Harley Sadler tent shows and a description of a town very much like Pampa was in the late l920s. The Combs-Worley office building — our skyscraper with four stories and two elevators — replaced the gray stone building of the First Baptist Church.

And we knew that we were going to have a grand new post office, the only Federal building in Pampa. In the fall of 1929 we began going to Wednesday morning assemblies in the new gymnasium at the corner of North Cuyler and West Browning. There we were introduced to “Texas, Our Texas,” which was made our state song on May 13, 1929. The next year some Congressmen in Washington began a campaign to make “The Star- Spangled Banner” our official national anthem and that became a reality on March 3, 1931. One morning Superintendent Roy B. Fisher passed out copies of words he had written to be sung to the melody of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” a popular song of the time.

He sang his song for us, and then we all sang our school song, “Dear Old Pampa High School,” for the very first time. Mr. Fisher left Pampa in the fall of 1938 to be the superintendent of schools in Corpus Christi. Three years later he died of double pneumonia, and it is inte- resting that he was buried in Fairview Cemetery — just across Duncan Street from the present campus of “Dear Old Pampa High School.”

Two high school teachers were especially important to me. Fannie May, teacher of the senior English classes, was later Mrs. Hal Wagner, and the 1939 Harvester annual was dedicated to her. Iva June Willis, school music supervisor, encouraged me to enter the field of music education. Two piano teachers were influential also: Mrs. Tom Rose, Sr., grandmother of Mary Jane Rose Johnson, and May Forman Carr, who promoted musical activities in Pampa for 25 years.

I entered high school when Pampa was booming, but when I graduated in 1932, the “Boom” had turned to “Bust” because of the Great Depression. We were told, “Use it up — Wear it out –Make it do — or Do without.” The graduates of 1932 had to do without a high school annual. But members of the student council elected in March arranged with the Pampa Daily News to have a section of each Tuesday’s paper devoted to school news. Since this replaced in a small way the functions of a regular Harvester annual, the council called the newspaper section “The Little Harvester.” Almost a year ago the bronze Harvester statue was unveiled on the south lawn of the campus. This statue represents the true Harvester who is determined to succeed in spite of difficulties.

(This brings to mind a phrase I learned in Latin class, “Ad astra per aspera,” which can be translated1 “To the stars through bolts and bars.”) In making the presentation, Ted Swindle explained that the statue is a tribute to all who have been a part of Pampa High School with “memories of the past, excitement of the present and accomplishments of the future.” All of us who have attended Pampa High School have memories of the past. Today we are experiencing excitement of the present — certainly Colonel Dewey Wheat — and I — and our families are. And we are looking to you students for accomplishments of the future.

Recent newspaper reports indicate that many of you are already on your way. Former Superintendent R. B. Fisher had a favorite quotation: “Give to the world the best you have — and the best will come back to you.” I cannot say that I have always done my best — but I can certainly say that the best has come beck to me today — and I sincerely thank all of you.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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