- [S106] The Mountain Press, 14 Aug 2006.
Grads from the 1930s still gather to share the past
August 14, 2006
They move a lot slower these days, and sometimes you see a cupped ear when conversation needs to be heard. But there is no denying the camaraderie that exists among these octogenarians, these men and women who helped make Sevierville what it is.
Each year the Sevier County High classes of the mid-1930s gather at the home of Mary Louise Hailey to reminisce, have a drink or two, peruse scrapbooks, talk over old times and discuss how things have changed. That's really what reunions are for.
There are 28 of them still able to drive up the hill overlooking the Ultraflow to Mary Louise Waters Hailey's secluded home overlooking the town she's lived in for more than 80 years. She's Class of 1938, and for years she would put together a reunion of her class and the one that preceded hers. But about 16 years ago as her classmates began to depart this earth, the reunion was expanded to includes classes from 1935 through 1938, and it moved from a rented building to her home.
Only one member of the '35 class was able to attend this weekend: Josephine Thomas Burchfiel. There were 13 in her class, and she went on to earn a degree in home economics at the University of Tennessee. "I don't know how I did it," she laughs. She has an easy laugh.
These are people who spent their teen years trying to survive the Depression in a town of less than a thousand people that tourists hadn't yet discovered. There was a courthouse, two drug stores, three or four grocery stores and lots of unpaved roads. And the school.
Oliver DeLozier was on hand. Make that Dr. Oliver DeLozier. He's from the Class of 1938. This man whose grandfathers were doctors watched as his father lost his job because of the Depression. DeLozier worked at Lee's drug store and delivered newspapers to put some money into the household. He also was class valedictorian. Yet he never thought his education in Sevierville would be good enough to do well at UT with men and women from much bigger and better financed schools. Man, was he wrong. He got his degree, then finished medical school and was an OB/GYN in Knoxville for more than 30 years.
"I thought I would be unable to compete," he said of his early college years. "But I found out my education had been solid, that I had remarkable teachers."
These old people talk a lot about their teachers' dedication. The pay was probably lousy, but teachers like Blanche Wade McCall, who taught languages, and Addie Bell Marshall, who taught English, were beloved and still remembered fondly and with reverence. So is Mary Kate Hodges, an art teacher who, at 96, attends the reunion every year. So how remarkable, how dedicated, is Mary Kate Hodges? For more than nine years she kept her ailing husband Theron at home despite his Alzheimer's disease.
Amos Marshall's mom taught him English. Marshall, Class of 1936, was a 120-pound quarterback on a team that went undefeated in 1933. He went on to serve 24 years on the Sevierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
"We all knew each other. We knew everybody. Couldn't get away with a thing," he said of those halcyon days, when nobody really knew what they didn't have.
Everybody walked everywhere, teachers alongside students as they made their way to the high school - now the home of the school system central office.
When Hailey's own son once complained about walking to school, his mom firmly told him of her own school days, when lockers were decades away, when there was no lunchroom and you either brought your food or went home to eat, when there were no buses and a gymnasium was just a dream. "He said we were underprivileged," Hailey laughed.
The talking went on a long time, past the Damon's barbecue and mixed drinks. Next year they'll have more stories to tell, even if their numbers have shrunk. That's what reunions are for.
- Stan Voit is editor of The Mountain Press. His column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at 428-0748, ext. 217, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- [S23] Atchley Funeral Home, (http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/), 30 Dec 2015.
February 10, 1921 - December 30, 2015
Resided in Sevierville, TN
Mary Louise Waters Hailey, age 94 of Sevierville, passed away Wednesday, December 30, 2015.
She was preceded in death by her husband, R.B. "Pete" Hailey; brother, David Waters.
Son: Ben Hailey and wife Helene;
Daughter: Rachel Hailey Haywood and husband Charles;
Step grandchildren: Kiera Tippitt Hagy and Alex Tippitt;
Brother: John B. Waters, Jr.;
Several nieces and nephews.
Special Caregivers: Louise McCarter, Tim Zeller, Virginia Soria, Samantha Buckner, Amber Caudillo, and Connie Myers.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Sevier County Food Ministries, PO Box 6042, Sevierville, TN 37864 and/or Friends of the Smokies, PO Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764.
Family and friends will gather 12 PM Tuesday at Atchley Funeral Home, Sevierville. Graveside service and interment 2 PM Tuesday at Shiloh Cemetery with Rev. Jeff Lambert officiating.
Online condolences may be made at www.atchleyfuneralhome.com.