Charles (Charlie) Madanick
Remembers the Paper Drives, Fire Escape, Music Room, etc.

M. D.,

Wow, what a good job you are doing on the Mountain Brook reunion. I finally got to the web page and was flabbergasted by what you have obtained so far. By the way, my email address is

I am retired and living in Tequesta, Florida, the northern most town in Palm Beach County. Its population is about 5,000 and there are 4 golf courses within a mile of my house. Tequesta has its own mayor, police department and fire/rescue service. Sounds like Mountain Brook, doesn't it.

Here are some memories you may wish to include.

At Mountain Brook School there were 3 teachers by the name of Brown: Mrs. Edna Brown (3rd grade), Mrs. Leona Brown (6th grade) and Mrs. Lucille Brown (8th grade). My younger sister always laughs at the fact that they were referred to by everyone (other teachers, included) by their grade name, for example Mrs. Third Grade Brown. I believe that Mrs. Cumbee took over the 8th grade when Mrs. Lucille Brown retired. Before that she was the 5th grade teacher; when she went to the 8th grade Mrs. Bethea started teaching the 5th grade, which was the year we were in 5th grade. She was there from the beginning of the year.

I started school there in the second grade. I had gone to private first grade. Since my birthday was in March I would have had to be 6 months ahead or 6 months behind, so private first grade allowed me to enter the second grade 6 months ahead. If my memory is correct they put me in Mrs. Jones first grade, then tested me and I moved up to the second grade after about a week or two of school. I remember that Charles Gaines left Mrs. Hendrix first grade class at the same time and went to Mrs. Prince's second grade. I went to Miss West's (who got married in the Spring and became Mrs. Wood) class. Incidentally, that 2nd grade classroom was previously the cafeteria, which got moved with the addition. Later, it became the music room.

Everybody remembers Mrs. Third Grade Brown and her piano. Of course the most sung song was "You're a Grand Old Flag." And, the third grade always put on a minstrel show, which now would be politically incorrect.

I remember in the 4th grade (Miss Rains) one day in the Spring we went to music class and Mrs. Rice did not show up on time for unknown reasons. We, of course, talked and got a little rowdy. I guess Mrs. Rice reported us to Miss Rains. When we got back to class we had to "fess up" to Miss Rains (I think Winston Martin was the one who had to "fess up" for the whole class). Obviously, what we had done was taboo in those days, so we were not allowed to have a picnic lunch on the football field that had been scheduled for a few weeks later, and we "lost" all of our extra curricular activities for the rest of the school year, which was probably about another month.

Speaking of Mrs. Rice, our favorite song in her class through the years was "The Erie Canal." I found it amusing many years later to be living in Utica, NY, and then Syracuse, NY, both of which were on the original Erie Canal. In Syracuse the main street was Erie Boulevard, so named because it was built on the filled-in section of the Erie Canal there.

Here's a 7th grade memory. Instead of going to our classroom, we waited in the courtyard between our classroom wing and the cafeteria (I think it really was a teacher's parking lot) until Mrs. Poor came to the fire escape door on the 3rd floor and we would walk up the fire escape to class. Chivalry being alive and well at that time, the girls went up first, until someone realized that the boys could (and maybe were) looking up the girls' skirts as they went up before us. After that the boys went up first.

Some 8th grade memories: Mrs. Rush "disappeared" over the Christmas holiday to be replaced by Mrs. Porter. No explanation was given until towards the end of the school year it was announced that Mrs. Rush had had a baby girl. Gosh, we were protected from life.

Also 8th grade: One day we were in class and felt and heard a rumble under our feet. The plaster ceiling of the music class beneath us had fallen in. Other than our teacher sending someone down to find out what had happened, class went on as usual for the rest of the day. Nobody ever checked to see if our floor was secure. Imagine the uproar if that happened today.

Also 8th grade: Historically the 8th grade class went on a day bus trip to the capital in Montgomery. However, because Mrs. Cumbee did not like Governor Patterson (I think it was Governor Patterson), instead we went to Chattanooga.

A final 8th grade memory: On the bus ride returning from the Marbury country home graduation party we got very rowdy - not unusual at that age - and the bus driver stopped and told us that we were the worst behaved charter he had ever had. We did quiet down a bit and got the "girls" to sing the "Bus Driver we Love You" song. When we got off we all, heads bowed, apologized as we left the bus.

Here's some other information. I think Miss Bill's last name was Cole. [ Betty Timberlake thinks it was "Mattison" ]
Also, when she was not there the lady who took her place (who always reminded me of Miss Rains) was her niece. Matilda the maid (her last name was Jones, which no one at that time ever used) got additional help as the building got larger. Her helper was Janie, who was her sister. Sorry to say, I do not know Janie's last name.

Remember paper drives? I was always suspicious that the Odds won one time and the Evens won the next. [ Betty Timberlake remembers that Merritt Pizitz was 4 grades ahead of us and Pizitz dept store sent so much paper and stuff, that the odd years for Merritt, they won and the even years for Merritt, they won. Betty said, "that's the reason the "odds" and "evens" alternated wins in the paper drive. At any rate, when he left, the playing field was "leveled" as they say and we did not always win thereafter!"]

Some political connections: Miss Hanes younger brother was Art Hanes, the infamous Birmingham mayor during the Civil Rights era. And, Mrs. Porter's brother-in-law was Lee Red Porter, who was involved somehow in the Phoenix City uproar. I don't remember whether he was on the drinking/clubs/etc. side or on the "clean-up" side. Perhaps another classmate will remember that. (Editor note: this is a link to Bull Connor, Art Hanes , etc. during the 50s and 60s someone might enjoy. Alabama Department of History and Archives.)

Well, this is more than you probably ever wanted to know, so I will end this here. Keep up the good work.

Charles Madanick

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