Jim Sears in Indiana, Mavis Bryant in Sherman and me in Denison have been batting a photo around for several weeks. First we were looking for a date when the group of Hi-Y guys was standing near the Raynal Monument on Woodard Street. When we found that it was 1924, we began trying to identify the young men.
Leave it to our good friend Jim Sears to partially solve our questions. I had guessed the picture was taken in the 1930s, but Jim has a collection of a number of early high school annuals, including the one for 1924. It was in that book that he found the picture on page 66. The caption of the picture listed all the young men by only their last names or with an initial and last name if there were two with the same last name.
Then the picture was sent back to my corner. I spent a lot of time trying to locate their names in the book, “Two Schools on Main Street, The Pride of Denison Texas, 1873-2007” that Mavis and I put together in 2008, the year after the 1914 school was demolished. I didn’t have a lot of luck searching for the first names of the guys but included those that I did identify through our book. So I decided I should run the picture with a column listing last names, with the idea that some of our readers might recognize the boys and their last names and help me fill in the blanks.
Pictured in the group are Lawrence, Foreman, Jennings, Clifford Eggleston, Morris, Charles Petet, A Hampton, Arthur Frank, Ralph Hightower, Badgett, Vanstone, Scott, Parish, Asa Pearson, Miller, Houk, John Williams, Arnold Hampton, Wagner, E. Matthews, Huffaker, Burt, Lawhon, J. Sturgis, Alexander Gullett, Gene Sturgis, Noe, Newland, Bledsoe, Charles Jones, Keyton, Linderman, Skelton, Fisk, Newsom, McDaniel, Fehr, McFerron, Long, Thompson, and Lewis, Lay. Not pictured, Charles McGregor, J. Clark, R. Clark, Elmore, Palmer, Templemeyer. Standing directly in front of the Raynal Monument are J.S. Kimble and B. McDaniel.
Meanwhile, I pulled out an old high school annual from the year my mother and uncle graduated, 1931, to find some history about the organization that I remember was very popular when I was at Denison High in the early 1950s.
I found that the Denison Hi-Y Club was organized in 1922, so it was just two years old when the photo was taken. In the beginning, there were only about 10 members and the book said it experienced a remarkable growth in membership and usefulness. In 1931, there were about 60 members and a Mr. Fisk was the first sponsor and J.S. Kimble was the present sponsor. Meetings were held every Monday at the school with local ministers and businessmen as speakers. The purpose of the group was to create, maintain and extend throughout the school and community, higher standards of Christian character.
Don Jones was the first term president that year and Donald Mayes, later a Denison architect, was the second president. I’m glad that I checked out the 1931 annual because I found some names listed that I had heard for years, and my uncle, R.C. Vaughan, later a 15th District Judge in Grayson County, was one of them.
After I ran a salute to my father as my Father’s Day tribute, I received an email message from a friend, David Atkins, who now lives in the McKinney area. I didn’t realize it, but the column also had been published in the Anna-Melissa Tribune. David said the column was special to him because it brought back so many cherished memories of his growing up in Denison.
One part in particular was my recollection of a driving lesson that Daddy gave me. David said he lived a couple of doors down from Jodi Gies and her family in Denison and he spent about half of his time at her house, in part because he loved her and her parents and because Mrs. Gies was “the absolute best cook in the whole world.”
Jodi’s dad, John Gies and David were best buddies. He bought Jodi a new Ford convertible for her 17th birthday, but she as too scared to even try to drive it. So, in desperation, her dad asked David to teach her to drive. On one summer weekend day, with the top down, David drove Jodi out to a seldom traveled dirt farm road between Denison and Pottsboro, all the way explaining to Jodi how to drive.
He stopped and they switched seats and he told her to slowly begin driving. When she pressed on the accelerator, the car lurched forward, she panicked, floor boarded it and fishtailed uncontrollably until they crashed, headfirst, into the deep roadside ditch. “Thank God neither of us was hurt and the car was not damaged because of the soft shoulder ditch dirt,” David said.
The problem was that the steep side and soft dirt made it impossible to back out of the ditch. So there they were, stranded in the middle of nowhere with Jodi crying uncontrollably and David wondering how in the world they could get back to town before dark. As he thought about their problem, which way to begin their hike back to civilization, David saw a tractor driving down the road toward them.
When it reached them, David immediately recognized Charles Kuykendall as the driver (random chance can sometimes be a miracle). David explained the problem to him and somehow to his credit, he kept from laughing out loud. He hooked up a chain that was on the tractor and gently pulled the car back up onto the road.
David drove back to town and first went to his house to hose the dirt off the car during which Jodi finally recovered from shock and crying and they agreed to not tell her mom and dad what had happened. David did tell Mr. Gies about it several years later and they had a good laugh while Jodi pouted.
Jody never tried to drive again until after they had been married for five years. She mastered driving while David was in Turkey for three months on a Top Secret National Security computer project for the U.S. military.
As chance would have it, on her maiden voyage to demonstrate her newly acquired driving skills Jody and David had a minor fender-bender accident. It wasn’t her fault (the other driver ran a stop sign) but it took several more months before she would drive again.
David said they didn’t run onto the Central Ward playground (like I did), but he just had to share his story with me — and now with our readers. Thanks David.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.