Giles Paths: Remembering Minor Hill School Part IV
“I have an 88-year-old body with a 6-year-old mind.” —Virginia Cole
Thus begins my next Giles Paths feature on Remembering Minor Hill School.
I drove down to Shores for my visit with Virginia Cole. What a super visit — I could have stayed all day. The amazing stories showcased her love for the Minor Hill area and Giles County, teaching school and serving 12 years as Giles County Register of Deeds.
Born July 13, 1931, Virginia Gaines attended Shores School for eight years and Bodenham School for four years, graduating April 28, 1949. She graduated from Martin College in the spring of 1951.
“I never missed a day of school,” Mrs. Cole said. “There were so many experiences of my teaching days; I wish I had written a book. There were always good days and I loved my children.
“I began teaching at Powell School after the winter of 1951 — one of the biggest snows came that year and it was so cold that schools were closed for two weeks. My teaching career began Feb. 19, 1951. Mrs. McGill was out on sick leave, so I finished out that term. Mr. James A. Bee was principal. Mrs. Dot Thornton ran the lunchroom that fed us so well. My classes were first, third and fifth grade, a total of 30 children eager to learn. My experience was great, which let me know I wanted to be a teacher.”
In the fall of 1951, a position opened up at Own School, where Liberty Hill Baptist Church is located.
“It was not always an easy task when I began teaching,” Mrs. Cole said. “Owen School was located at Liberty Hill, west of Campbellsville. I did not drive, so I would take a Greyhound bus from Pulaski to Riversburg on 31 North. There I would ride with fellow teacher Katherine Aymett to the school. I paid her $40 a month. My check at that time was $145 a month, but all was good.
“Owen was a three-teacher school,” Mrs. Cole said. “Jack Smith, Katherine Aymett and I were the faculty that year. Dora Mae Casteel was the lunchroom worker. Grades one-eight, my classroom was on the stage room with Principal Mr. Smith. My children were part of classes third, fourth and fifth grades. The boys and girls were great children and hard workers, very eager to learn. Boys were not considered boys if they did not have a pocket knife and a pocket full of marbles. Another great school year — those children are still my good friends today. Miss Gaines ended, and I married W. C. Cole Dec. 22, 1951.
“My next journey was Liberty Hill School, south of Minor Hill in the Fall of 1952. Mrs. Eunice White Principal and I were the teachers. Mrs. Lois Jackson was the lunchroom worker. I taught first, second, third and fourth grades. My classroom was like the one I attended at Shores School for grades one-eight — chalkboard, George Washington, flag.
“Our days began with register, lunch money, Bible story, prayer, flag pledge and a song — ‘God Bless America’ and ‘This Land Is Your Land.’ Then it was time to begin our day with respect for authority, reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic. I always included some of what I was taught by early teachers.
“Desks were old with ink wells and old carvings that were left from early years. We didn’t have to worry about air conditioners or heat. Windows and doors were open when it was warm. When winter came, the Phillips twins built fire for 5 cents a day.
“I had five great years at Liberty Hill School.
“In the fall of 1956, when small schools closed, I was transferred to Minor Hill. We were there until fire destroyed our school Jan. 9, 1969. My first class was half of the sixth grade whom I shared with Mrs. Robert Barnes. With about 30 students, my classroom was on the stage again.
Over the years at MHS, Mrs. Cole also taught second, third and fourth grades.
“If children had a loose tooth, it stayed there for me to pull. I pulled teeth, dropped three drops of water for ear aches. If they got hurt, it was painted with red medicine. Some of them went home, too sick to stay at school. There were measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever, etc.
“After our school burned, we went to Pulaski, Elkton and Prospect. My time at Pulaski Elementary was kindergarten, until 1976. Then I went back to MHS, and there I stayed until 1982.
“In 1982, I was elected Giles County Register of Deeds and served three terms, retiring in August 1994.
“I had good experiences with working wherever they said after my year at Owen. I went where I was told to go and worked for what was good for the students. I am proud to say my former students are great citizens of our country, working in all walks of life. I am so blessed to be called a teacher.
“What I am enjoying doing today is finding and talking to my children. I try very hard to keep up with all my children and have made contact with over 2,000 of them.”
“That’s just amazing,” was my comment to Mrs. Cole. I doubt that there are many teachers who would take the time to do that.
“Everyone who I called has been so nice, and another big plus for me is that I am able to do this and I love it so much. If I have missed someone, it’s not because I haven’t tried. Call me at 565-3331.”