I posted last month about leaving my neighborhood and going across town to school at Lee Junior High for my seventh grade year
. For my eighth grade year, I was back in the neighborhood—sort of. Anyhow, William Fleming High School was close enough for me to walk. Here's a picture of the school I copied from my eighth grade yearbook.
This particular incarnation of WFHS on Williamson Road doesn't exist anymore. (Breckinridge Middle School is now in the same location, but it looks a lot different.) In my junior year, the new Fleming opened off Hershberger Road, which was in the county at the time, so we referred to the building above as the old Fleming. A few years ago, the new Fleming I attended was replaced by a newer Fleming.
This 1940s building was solid and substantial, kind of like Lee Junior, but not as imposing. There were two front doors, a couple of side doors, and a few backdoors so access was pretty easy. The office area was to the back, which meant visitors had a long walk down the hall to get there. If an intruder wanted to enter, the door was always open and he'd have to travel for a ways before anyone would notice. To my knowledge, WFHS never had any problem with intruders. We had a bomb threat or two while I attended there, which meant everyone was herded out back where any terrorists around would have had no trouble picking us off. Of course, this was 1958, so there were no terrorists (just communists in Russia who wanted to undermine our entire American way of life, but they didn't bother with Roanoke).
The library was on the first floor—to the right of the picture. The science classes were on the second floor—kind of above the library. The windows let in lots of natural light and they actually opened (no air conditioning). It would have been easy for anyone to get in—or out of—the ground floor windows. I can remember once a cat jumped through the window and wandered around.
The school was so crowded that three different schedules were needed to accommodate everyone. Early schedule began about 7:40 AM for those who wanted to begin school early (or take more than six subjects); regular schedule began about 8:35 (which most students preferred), and late schedule began about 9:30. All the eighth graders were on late schedule, which meant we didn't get out until 4 PM or thereabouts.
There were no school busses. Roanoke City Schools weren't concerned about how we got to school, just so we got there. Students either walked or rode a city bus. I walked. My house is marked in red below; where WFHS was located is in yellow. Depending on with whom I was walking, I had several options for routes. Usually we cut through some back yards and walked the back streets.
Here's a picture of part of the eighth grade—I'm in the second row from the bottom, third picture in.
You will note that we were a bland looking bunch. No one had piercings (pierced ears came years later) and no certainly one sported a tattoo. Clothing was modest—puritanical by today's standards. Take a look at the how well covered the cheerleaders were.
Also note they they encouraged violence ("let's fight!"); indeed, many of their cheers involved "beating" the other school. But they were modest about it.
How times have changed in the last 54 years!
Labels: history, school