A Season of Change 


Recently Museum Curator Jane Reynolds commented that she’s heard that Sue Batson’s mother always made a fantastic coconut cake, and that she wished we could get that recipe for the Museum. Her mother was Luna Goodrum Batson (1903-1999), wife of Robert Virgil Batson (1899-1982). I’ve heard that Tommy Joe Baker (1953-2007) had good recipes for making jerky, and my daughter (his niece) would like some of those. It’s been almost a year now since the Madison County Historical Commission released our latest cookbook. The Museum still has plenty of copies of that edition and the earlier one for sale, too, at $10 each. I helped put the last one together, and I doubt I’ll ever get senile enough to tackle such a job again, but you never know. Some folks didn’t get recipes in who would like to, and if you’d like to bring some by, we’ll start a file for such. Who knows, maybe there will be a later release OR some great recipes on file

Recently Jo Parker came in and purchased a package of note cards showing our former courthouse on the front. They tell that our county was created in in 1853 and named for James Madison. It also explains that the shown Courthouse was built in 1896 at the cost of $22,500, and destroyed by fire in 1967. Remember that sad day? At first, it appeared that Jo Parker bought the last package of the cards, but we found more in storage. If you’d like some, please come in. They sell for $6 a pack.

Recently, I looked back at a Madisonville Meteor dated Sept. 17, 1970. That’s edging towards 50 years ago, so definitely history. It piqued my interest and I thumbed through to the end of that year.

Our Marian Anderson School dates back way past 1970, all the way to 1880. We old local Madisonville residents don’t need the reminder, but it stood, and was rebuilt a few times, out west of downtown here, on Trinity Street where House of Hope now stands. For many years, Black students here attended Marian Anderson. By 1969, when I graduated, we were partially integrated. Parents of Black students could choose for them to go to either Marian Anderson campuses or Madisonville Consolidated School District ones. That ended with the last school day of 1970, and some events preceding that change are detailed below.

The Marian Anderson High School football team, the Panthers, opened its final season on Sept. 11, 1970. James Byrd, Jr., was head coach, and Lural McCloud was assistant coach. The Panthers crushed Butler High School 80-0, accumulating 420 total yards of offense, 357 of them rushing, while Butler only had 97 yards total offense. The game was not a district game.

On offense, End Carnell Craft (1953-2015) gained 48 yards and scored a touchdown plus one 2-point conversion. Halfback Bobby Nellums rushed for 70 yards in five carries, while Billy Green added 58 yards and scored a 2-point conversion in 7 carries. Henry Smith scored 1 touchdown and two extra points while carrying the ball seven times for 57 yards. In the passing department, Quarterback James Johnson completed 4-of-6 passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Back on the ground, Bruce Bailey earned 2 touchdowns and 2 two-point conversions while gaining 67 yards. J.L. Smith had 31 yards and a 2-point conversion, and Odis Haynes crossed the goal twice for two touchdowns and gaining 59 yards.

The strong Panther defense was responsible for 5 Butler fumbles, with Tommy Banks recovering two of them and James Holiday covering one for a Panther touchdown. Our Casey Ross was injured in the game. Team members not previously named included Claude Nealy, Jesse Moore, James Smith, Jimmy Simpson, Maurice Belizare, James Shaffer, James Mims, William Turner, Johnny Gipson, Jerry Wheaton, Rochester Moffett, Jessy Anderson, Lee McCarty, Larry Harrison, Cary Roquemore, Jerry Smith, Frank Williams, Thomas Richardson, LaDon Harrison, and Frank Bailey.

Marian Anderson’s cheerleaders that year were Annette Davis, Dorothy Sue Gilbert, Sarah Jones, Janie Harrison, and Eula Moffett, though Moffett missed out on the photo that appeared in the Meteor. While attending cheerleader school the preceding August in Huntsville, they won a ribbon and honorable mention in competition.

The Panthers continued winning, though without such high scores, until October 31. Here on Senior Field they faced off with the Groveton Indians. Both teams were so far undefeated in District play, and the match ended in a 20-20 tie.

On November 14, Marian Anderson hosted it’s last homecoming game ever. The first score came when Middle Linebacker Larry Harrison intercepted a pass and ran 33 yards to the goal. Henry Smith ran the 2 extra points. Later Defensive Guard James Holiday picked up a fumble and ran 67 yards to score. The final score came on a draw play when Quarterback James Johnson handed off to Bruce Bailey on a draw play and went 48 yards for the final touchdown. The Panthers thus won their last District game and final game ever.

I figure homecoming halftime ceremonies were emotional at this historic game. 1969 Miss Marian Anderson, Ruby McAdams, handed her title to Brenda Ross, and runners-up were Mary Spurlock, Mary Stewart, and Barbara Bridges. Homecoming Queen Barbara Harrison was crowned, and Football Sweetheart Jeanette Scott was recognized.

The Panthers finished the season with 5-0-1 record, but Corrigan did the same. They were Co-Champions of District 23-A, but Corrigan got the chance to represent the district in the bi-district competition. Not only had the 2 teams tied point-wise, they’d tied on first downs, but the Indians had penetrated their opponents’ 20-yard line two more times than the Panthers had.

Later, five Panthers made All-District Team, Zone 23A. Halfback Bobby Nellums was the only offensive player as such. Making the Defensive All-District team were Linebacker Larry Harrison, Defensive Tackle James Smith, Defensive Halfback James Shaffer, and Defensive End Billy Green. Larry Harrison was also unanimously chosen for the award of All-District Defensive Player, Zone 23.

In the December 17 Meteor, the top-right headline declared “Realignment of M’ville Schools to be Effective after Holidays”. Madisonville Senior High would house all students grades 9-12, and all students grade 5-8 would attend what had previously been the Marian Anderson campus. Students in grades K-4 would attend J.R. Parten Elementary campus. The article further explained that before students were released for Christmas holidays on December 22, each would be issued a card stating the campus and room number to which each should report on January 6 when classes resumed.

I’ve heard it said that school integration here was pretty simple. I’ve also heard that Superintendent R.E. Hawthorne was largely responsible for that ease. Before he became superintendent, he was my high school principal, and he also taught my Trigonometry class. Math wasn’t my strong suit, and he enforced the dress code that I found unfair. Girls could not wear pants or slacks, only dresses or skirts, to school or any school function. I strongly objected. Since I’ve heard how he eased the above transition, I think much more highly of him. God bless him.

I personally feel that James Byrd Jr., and Lural McCloud, the previously named coaches of that last Panther team, were probably partly responsible for making that change easier here. They were greatly respected and very Christian men. I’ll bet many local parents realized that their children were lucky to be instructed and coached by those two and others like them. Later on, I worked with Mr. Byrd and Mr. McCloud, and I count that among my greatest blessings. Not only did I value the fact that they were both skilled educators, I loved their charming laughter. A bit of laughter often eases tense situations, and they recognized that fact.

In my next Musings, I plan to share more news from the fall of 1970. Also, I’ve been wishing for folks to tell me stories, especially about hunting or working cattle. If you can relate one or more, please call the Museum at (93) 348-5230, leave your name and number, and I’ll get back with you. Better yet, we welcome you to visit the Museum I’m often there on Wednesdays and sometimes on other days.

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum curator Jane Day Reynolds welcomes your visits. Memorials or donations may be mailed to the Museum, P.O. Box 60, Madisonville, TX 77864.