School's Never Out
If anybody still remembers what chalk dust is, that may explain why Ball’s heart is still at school.
You see, he lives in one.
For almost 30 years Ball and wife, Joyce, also a former longtime educator, have lived in the former Hoyte School, a building Ball remodeled himself, doing an estimated 85 percent of the work.
Eldon Ball had 37 years in education, 25 of them as Rockdale’s elementary principal.
Eldon Ball had purchased the Hoyte school many years previously but put the house project on hold as his first wife, June, became ill then passed away.
After Eldon and Joyce married, he resurrected the long-held dream of turning the former school into a home on the Ball property at the end of a county road near Milano.
“It had a partition down the middle, separating the two classrooms,” Eldon said. “I told everybody it looked like a dance hall.”
Eldon replied softly, “oh, we’ll just add a second story.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Assisted by family members, both Balls and Martins, Eldon turned the school into a home.
In addition to the second story, the retired educator created substantial additions to the buildings, lowered the ceilings, designated a signature breezeway—which somehow managed to remain cool and delightful even on the muggy morning The Reporter visited—and added his own typical touches.
“I remember washing rocks for him,” Joyce added. “We wanted them for the house’s underpinning. They were all taken from the land here and some of them were petrified wood.”
Wasn’t that an awful lot of work ?
Eldon grinned the wellknown “Ball Grin”: “Let’s just say nobody had to rock me to sleep at night.”
Over the past three decades the Ball “school-home” has become a meeting place for numerous functions involving Milam County Retired Teachers.
“It just seems so appropriate to have our retired teachers gather in a former school,” Eldon said.
It’s been particularly well-remembered as the site for retired teachers’ Thanksgiving covered-dish luncheons.
There’s also a sense of history about the house. Eldon has retained a number of artifacts from his principal days including the desk he once sat behind and paperwork that shows the names of every teacher at the elementary during that time.
After a tour of the schoolhouse it’s not uncommon for visitors to remark that maybe Eldon, beloved as he was as an educator, might have missed his calling, that he should have been an architect.
That brings a typical Eldon Ball response, an “aw shucks” grin followed by, “then I would have made more money.”