Commentary

MILAM HISTORY

First ‘reading’ lesson memorable at Lilac School
Joy Graham

This column continues a series of Dorothy McQuary Calloway’s reminiscences on the Lilac school and community. D orothy McQuary’s mother said she could start school when she was seven years old. On April 11, 1929, she celebrated her seventh birthday, got up early and did her chores, watering the chickens, and dressed for school.

It rained early that morning and Dorothy’s mother made the children stay home. They would have had to walk through rain walking through Baldridge’ pasture and lane then on a gravel road to school.

The next day, April 12, the weather cleared and Dorothy began first grade at Lilac School. She and her sisters, Lucille, and Irene and brother Sid walked to school.

She remembered how important she felt when she entered that building. On that first day, Miss Jewel, the teacher, gave her a book and told her to study her lesson.

She took the book and since she couldn’t read, she studied each picture and when asked to read, she didn’t know how and showed the picture of an old woman at a cupboard.

Miss Jewel prompted her with “Old Mother Hubbard” and Dorothy recited the poem without even looking at the book.

Dorothy remembers the large oak tree in the Lilac School yard. That tree divided the “little kid” playground from the baseball fields. It was a large majestic tree.

When it rained, the school grounds drained from east to west.

She remembered the time when her father and the school trustees took their teams of mules and scrappers to create a terrace to direct the rain runoff into the bar ditch.

That big tree stood proudly on top of that terrace. It provided shade from the hot sun at recess, where the students played: “London Bridge is falling down”, and “Ring around the Rosy.”

The tree remained af ter the school closed. The 1950’s droughts were too much and the tree died.

Lilac School eventually consolidated with Sharp School, and the area is now home to the Lilac Cemetery.

The cemetery is on the same corner at FM 487 and FM 3061.

Lilac Cemetery Association organized and has preserved the cemetery and installed a metal fence with rock entrance.

Research: “Lilac Before Lilac Festival”, by Dorothy McQuary Callaway, pg. 26 “I remember Lilac School 1929-1930. Published 2013 Scriptorium Beaumont, TX. maryjoygraham@yahoocom


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