Class of 1959 Reunion, May 16, 2009

Last year, the Bradley High School class of 1959 assembled for its 50th reunion.  Thanks to LaVerne Keahey for the following article and photo.

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“The Bradley Bears Class of ‘59 returned to their High School den recently for their Fiftieth Reunion.  Eighteen of their class of twenty-seven and one faculty member were reunited at the Bradley Baptist Church Family Life Center on May 16, 2009, for an afternoon of activities and a Fish Fry prepared on site.  A slide show from pictures submitted by classmates covering the last fifty years helped share stories of families, careers, homes, pets and hobbies.  Four members were memorialized.  Several gag awards added fun to the event, which was highlighted by the female classmates naming “The Best Looking Old Man.”  The warm greeting and hugs paid tribute to Bradley High and to the closeness they had treasured as a class.

The room was decorated in a purple and gold reunion theme with sand buckets holding a branch with classmates’ names on Bear cutouts on each table.  The snack table held a Teddy Bear fishing in a goldfish  bowl.  An eight-by-ten picture of each classmate was presented with their picture, classmate names on a bookmark, a magnet showing all the buildings in which they had been schooled, and a directory of classmates from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi as mementos.

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Seated, L-R:  Cheroyl Owens Taylor, Ann Copeland Dickson, Wanda Spruell Hays, Nellie Givens Nichols, Carolyn Kilgore Lamar, and Kathleen Spruell Malone.

Standing, L-R:  Bette Barnett Davis, Ralph Hamner, Martha Williams Mueller, Cecil Smith, Linda Fay Burns Givens, B. J. Powell, Charles Ambrose, Patsy Powell Burkett, Dianne Barker Rogers, Derial Whitehead, David Umphries, and LaVerne Burks Keahey.”

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The four deceased members of the class are Bobby Collier, Charles Hamm, Rayford Lee and John Wynne.

The other members of the class who did not attend the reunion are Glenda Colvin Null, Gloria Pickett McCoy, Mary Wilson, Jimmy Redmon and Lawrence Shaver.

Dances At The Camps’, 1957

The 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook contains a section on “Recreation,” which describes what was, at that time, a much-anticipated social event for the young people of Bradley. 

The scrapbook description:

“Once or twice a month, on a Saturday night, a group of thirty-five to fifty teenagers meet in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Camp to dance and just have fun.

The week of the dance, Mrs. Camp calls the leaders of the group, and they in turn notify the young people on their list.  A record player provides the music.

In order to have the latest records at every dance, each person is assessed fifty cents when money is needed in the treasury.  Mrs. Camp notifies the leaders of the group if an assessment is to be made at the next dance.  Assessments are made about every third meeting.  A statement showing the amount of money spent for records since the last meeting and the balance or indebtedness is placed in a conspicuous place for all to see.  A sheet of paper with a pencil is also there for the young people to jot down the records they would like to be bought before the next meeting.

Intermission is held about 9:30 during each dance, and refreshments, which consist of Coca-Colas, are served.

The boys buy them for the whole group one time and the girls the next time.  A semi-formal dance is held once a year during the Christmas holidays.  At that time, there is more festivity, and the mothers of the group make the refreshments.  College students, home for the holidays, usually attend this dance.  Fifty-five young people were present at the 1957 Christmas dance.

The dances always start at 7:30 P.M., ending at exactly 11 P.M., except the Christmas dance, which starts at 8:00 P.M., ending at 12:00 midnight.  Rather strict rules are observed.  There is no going and coming during the dances.  Once a member leaves he cannot come back and he must notify Mrs. Camp when he leaves.  Everyone who comes must not arrive later than 8:00 P.M.  There is no sitting in cars before coming in.

Any teenager is welcome to come, provided Mrs. Camp is notified ahead of time.  If a member of the group wishes to invite a guest, he must call Mrs. Camp before the dance.

Mrs. Camp teaches the young people who do not know to dance but would like to learn.”

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The home of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. “Buck” Camp, Sr., was located diagonally (south and east) across Highway 160 from where the school gymnasium is located now.  Mr. Camp was Mayor of Bradley at that time, and for many years thereafter.

One cannot help but reflect as to how fortunate the young people of Bradley of that era were to have these affairs to look forward to on a regular basis. 

The article refers to “leaders” of the group.  If anyone can identify who these “leaders” were, it would be appreciated.  Something else that would be interesting would be what the favorite songs and artists of the group (Elvis must have been one) were.

The scrapbook contains four photos made at what was apparently the Christmas 1957 dance.  These photos have deteriorated and discolored with age, but are reproduced below in slightly edited form.

Dances, upper left, edited 2 A, 300 pixels

Dances, upper right, edited 2 A

Dances, lower left, edited 2 A, 300 pixels

Dances, lower right, edited 2 A, 300 pixels


Hard Times in Bradley, 1930, 1931

Since the current recession began in 2007, Bradley folks, like other people almost everywhere else, have endured less than rosy financial conditions.  Of course, to some extent, Bradley and the rest of Lafayette County are almost always in a state of recession, or even worse at times.

At end of each year between 1920 and 1949, Della McKnight Cochran would make a summary-type entry in her daily diary.  At the end of 1930, this poignant entry appears:  “People hungry.  So few Christmas gifts this year.  Not nearly so many cards sent.”  This would have been a little over a year after the stock market crash in October of 1929. By this time, the Great Depression was well under way.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1931, almost a year later, this entry appears:  “Not much doing at store.  No cotton picking for over a month because of rains.  No money [around Bradley].”

Hard times and Bradley have never been strangers to each other.

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Finally, a personal note.

I could not let the last day of 2009 pass without saying “Thank you” to the readers of, both for reading and for generously sharing your comments, photos, and other historical material with me.  The response to this site has, over the roughly 28 months of its existence, been overwhelming.  Again, thank you.


Bradley Senior Girls Basketball, 1955

Finally, it’s basketball season again.  As has been mentioned on before, some of the most popular articles and photos on this site are sports-related.

In 1955, the Bradley Senior Girls Basketball team went to Nashville to compete in the District Tournament.  While gathered for a meal, they posed for the photo below.

Sr Girls at Nashville 1955 002, 300 pixels

The back of the photo lists those shown as follows:

1st row, left to right:  Shirley Raye Crabtree, Rebecca Bland, Marie (Sissy) Gore, Virginia Spence, Pauline Short, Laura Jane Cochran (chaperone).

2nd row, left to right:  Barbara Wagnon, Magnolia Sparks, LaRita Burks, Joan Stevens, Bonnie Sue Fish, Nancy McGee, Joe Langdon (Coach).

Not shown:  Barbara Ann Dalrymple.

Does anyone know how this team fared in their District Tournament?

Bradley School, First Grade, 1955

On a September morning in 1955, Miss Ray Crabtree welcomed her newest first grade class.  Somehow, in a feat which must have been akin to herding cats, the new students were persuaded to pose for a picture.  Mrs. J. W. Camp, Sr., was there with her camera and took the photo below, which her son, Harry, has graciously provided to

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Who are these kids?  Even though I was a member of this class, fifty-four intervening years have drastically reduced my ability to identify them.  Below are two slightly enlarged and cropped versions of the photo.  Most of the identifications on these photos were made not from memory, but by comparing them with the class photos in the 1956 Bradley School yearbook.  Almost certainly, there are one or more errors and, of course, some of the faces have not been labeled at all.  Corrections and additional identifications will be most appreciated and promptly incorporated into the photos.

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Lafayette County Fair in Bradley, 1947

The 65th (at least in its current incarnation) annual Lafayette County Fair is being held this week at the fairgrounds just off Highway 82 between Stamps and Lewisville.  Before that, it was held at a location just off the Skelly Road (now County Road 22), which basically runs from the southwest part of Stamps to the southeast part of Lewisville, and vice versa.

Few are aware, however, that at least on one occasion, the Lafayette County Fair was held in Bradley.  In 1947, the Fair was in its third year.  Exactly where in Bradley was it held?  In the field just south of what members of my generation remember as the residence of Mr. & Mrs. L. E. “Happy” Taylor.  Today, it might occur to many that there wasn’t much room for such an undertaking in that location because of the proximity of Highway 29 just behind (east) of that field.  However, that portion of Highway 29 was not constructed until 1954, seven years later.  Highway 29 ran in 1947 in front of the Taylor residence, i.e., between their home and the railroad tracks. 

The following are some photos of that event, which have yellowed and deteriorated with the years.  A makeshift corral was erected for the livestock events:

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Local merchants exhibited their wares:

031201 County Fair in Bradley 47 B

031204 County Fair in Bradley 47 B

And, finally, the following photo shows a reasonably good of view of what was then Highway 29, still unpaved, next to the railroad.

031207 County Fair in Bradley 47 B

O’Neal & Crockett, circa 1930

Gayle Garner has generously supplied with a wonderful photo of a Bradley business from long ago.

Sc00044337--O'Neal & Crockett--edge cropped off , 300 pixels

This business was O’Neal & Crockett, a retail mercantile establishment located on the northwest corner of Pilot and 4th Street/Highway 160, roughly where the car wash is now.  The man wearing the necktie on the right side of the photo is Gayle’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner.  Gayle thinks the boy on the right side of the photo may be his brother, Merritt Gerald Garner.  This type of business photo is rather common, and was apparently taken by a roving photographer who specialized in such photos.

Two excerpts from Glynn McCalman’s Bradley Connections give a glimpse into this business.

“Before the Edwards ‘department’ store was built during the depression, the largest general store at Bradley was owned by Gilbert ‘Gip’ O’Neal and Ernest Crockett.  … Before partnership with O’Neal, G. I. ‘Bob Reynolds was Crockett’s partner.  The store was at the northwest corner of Fourth Street at Pilot, and had been previously been owned by John Hamiter.  The John Deere farm implement store just west of it was also owned by them.”

“Nearly three-fourths of a century after our first childhood visit to O’Neal and Crockett, some of us continue to remember fondly the pleasant mixed aromas of coffee, potatoes, grain, apples, and other produce that greeted customers when they entered.  The business also included a farm implement store immediately west of that building on Fourth Street.  After the dissolution of the business, possibly in part due to the Depression of the 1930’s, the extreme eastern section of the building was modified to house the post office.  Later yet, that portion of the building west of the post office housed Tom Jester’s appliance store and shoe shop.”

An invoice from Reynolds-Crockett Co., the precursor of O’Neal & Crockett, appeared in the article posted on this site on January 14, 2008.

Gayle Garner’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner, later worked for Edwards Company.  Around 1937, Edwards Company decided to build a store at Canal where a new cotton gin was being built, and Gayle’s father ran that store for a time.  Later, Merritt Guyraud Garner left Edwards Company and built a store of his own, the “M. G. Garner Company,” next door to the Edwards store at Canal.  Near the end of 1944, the Garner family moved to Longview, Texas.

Gayle Garner’s grandfather, John P. Garner, was the first person to sign the petition to incorporate the town of Bradley in 1906.

Gayle is the author of A Childhood in Cotton Country, which was serialized in the Lafayette County Press a few years ago.  He was born in 1930 in a house located just north of Walnut Hill, part of which had once been the doctor’s office of my own great-grandfather, Dr. J. F. McKnight.  He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1955, and later accepted a commission in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army.  At one time he was Chief Trial Judge of the U. S. Army. In 1997, after retirement from the U. S. Army, he became General Counsel of Waste Connections, Inc., which at that time was the fourth-largest national solid waste company.  He retired from that position in 2008, and now spends part of his time on hobbies of writing and painting pictures.