The earliest President I remember is Harry Truman. I saw him in newsreels at the Roanoke and Rialto Theaters. In those days, movies included a cartoon or two, a newsreel, and coming attractions as well a the main movie.
I remember hearing on the radio about Queen Elizabeth being crowned queen. After I heard it, I went out on the back porch. The weather was warm. I was in second grade at Huff Lane School then. That year, because of over-crowding, I attended school only in the mornings; another class came in for the afternoon.
I remember the names of all six of my Huff Lane Elementary School teachers: Mrs. Zoe Willhide, Mrs. Cheatham, Miss Nancy Driscoll (who became Mrs. Finley the following year), Mrs.
Ellen Clarke, Mrs. Pocahontas Shelton, and Mrs. Ruth Creasy. Mrs. Clarke was my favorite.
|Mrs. Clarke's 4th grade class (1954-55)|
I never bought a school lunch in elementary school. I walked home for lunch most days—a trek of three blocks. On the few days I ate lunch at school, I carried a lunchbox.
I remember going to Mill Mountain Zoo when it was brand new. I liked the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" schoolhouse, the prairie dog town Noah's ark, and the whale.
I remember seeing my cowboy idol, Gene Autry, and his horse Champion at the old American Legion auditorium when I was 7 or 8. The auditorium burned down a few years later.
I remember walking up the street to watch the Howdy Doody TV show with my friend Johnny Campbell. His family lived with his grandparents, who'd gotten the first TV in the neighborhood. WSLS—Channel 10—was the only TV station available. It had started broadcasting in December of 1952, when I was in the second grade.
I remember our first TV was a Zenith, which we must have gotten around 1954. Channel 10 came in good with the rabbit ears, and we could just barely get a very fuzzy ABC station‚ Channel 13 from Lynchburg. I remember when we finally got a second local TV station—WDBJ, Channel 7—when I was in the 5th grade. My father bought the TV from Mr. Quinn, who'd opened a TV store next to my father's service station on Williamson Road. I went to high school with Mr. Quinn's daughter, Gail.
I remember watching Disneyland (albeit not too clearly since it was on ABC) and really liking the Davy Crockett segments when I was in 4th grade (1954-1955).
I remember going to the "Kiddie Show"on Saturdays at the Lee Theater on Williamson Road when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. Usually the movie was a Western, and there was always a serial (Tarzan) to keep us coming back, and there were several cartoons. It was a pretty good walk to get there, but most kids walked. (Parents rarely attended.)
I remember going to Lexington and Natural Bridge with my fifth grade class. I remember seeing the skeleton of General Robert E. Lee's horse, Traveller at Washington & Lee. (The bones have since been buried.) I also remember that my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Shelton, had us sing "Dixie' as part of our morning devotions.
I remember riding the Williamson Road bus downtown in the summer of 1957 to go to the Roanoke Public Library in Elmwood Park. Sometimes my friend Martha Via from across the street went with me; sometimes I went alone. After getting off the bus, I had to walk a couple of blocks to the library. There I discovered Walter Farley's Black Stallion series. The pond in Elmwood Park had huge fish in it.
I remember buying bus tokens every day to ride the bus to Lee Junior High when I was in 7th grade, but I can't remember for sure if the tokens were two for 15¢ or two for a quarter. I think 15¢.
In January 1960, I remember sitting on one of the heavy tables in a biology classroom at Wm. Fleming High and watching JFK's inaugeration on a small black-and-white TV. I rmember Robert Frost reciting "The Gift Outright" when he was unable to read the poem he'd composed for the occasion because of the glare from the snow and the wind that kept blowing the paper. The biology room was packed full of students. (I remember where I was when JFK was killed, too, but I wasn't in Roanoke then.)
And I probably remember a lot more stuff, too.