Tuckers Crossroads School seems to abound not only with students who achieve academic excellence, but also who possess a great adeptness in romantic endeavors.
In 1934, now 91-year-old Harold Ingram enrolled in Tuckers Crossroads in the fourth grade. Ingram even attended one year of high school at the school.
Ingram told about a social custom of his day – “pollyfoxing around.”
“When you got in your early teens and had a notion for the girls, we said we were pollyfoxing around,” he said.
He admitted it was probably the same as flirting.
Ingram’s future wife, Ruth Robinson, was not a classmate but also attended the school. Later, Robinson became a teacher at Tuckers Crossroads, and after about two years as an educator, she married Ingram, and they had two boys, Randy and Perry, who also attended the school.
Ruth Ingram went on to teach at Lebanon High School and died a few years ago. Ingram said she told him before they married he was a rogue. That statement is probably confirmed considering he coined his own term for flirting. He said they were married 60 years and never had a fight, and not a day goes by he doesn’t miss her.
Some of his other escapades include sticking a potato over the exhaust of a car that belonged to one of the male teachers.
“When he started the car, it blew like dynamite,” Ingram said. “He had false teeth, and they were going back and forth in his mouth because he was so mad.
Another time, he got on a horse one of the children had ridden to school. He had the horse gallop right into the building and up on the auditorium stage. A teacher started whipping him and the horse with a broom, and try as he may to get out, he could not get the horse to cooperate.
“I just saw the horse, and it seemed like the thing to do at the time,” Ingram said.
Life in the ’30s was a little different than now. None of the students had any money, so many of the boys would go to school during the day, then go out to hunt at night.
“If we shot something edible, people would pay us a nickel or two for it, and we could get some candy or tobacco,” Ingram said. “We rode on a homemade bus. Albert Goodall was our bus driver. Back then, the driver would buy a chassis and frame and then build a body around it. Drivers owned their own busses, and charged per month to ride it. There were three benches – one on either side and one down the middle. When we made a quick stop, all the benches slid to the front. If the driver accelerated quickly, all the benches flew to the back. A charcoal bucket was our heater in the bus.
“The worst days were when one of us had been out hunting and got sprayed by a skunk. That was an awful day on the bus.”
For breakfast, Ingram had what he called a “river cake,” which consisted of pie filling, butter and sugar in a piecrust. Sometimes, it had jam in it. With that, he had sausage or bacon on a biscuit. For lunch, he had a bologna sandwich and said he had eaten enough in his life “to stack up a pick up truck,” but he still eats them now.
While he was attending, Tuckers Crossroads started serving hot lunches for a nickel. About three times a week, they served beef soup, and he thinks the government probably provided canned meat for the soup. He said going to the outhouse was never a problem, because the teachers did not hesitate when you asked them to go. Ingram said the boy’s outhouse was a pretty good distance from the school, so you did not want to mess around if you needed to go.
Deeming himself “mischievous,” Ingram said he had the kind of personality he wanted something to be happening all the time. He said he was quite aware of the caves in the area.
“Know about them? Me and my buddies went there every April Fool’s Day. It was a custom,” Ingram said. “We would make sure we had a nickel or two for the day, stop off at the store by the school for tobacco and candy, then head for the Neal Woods where the caves were [which is now the site of the Crossroads Church]. The caves weren’t much really. We had to get down on our knees and crawl in, then back out, still on our knees. Each of us had a turn. The girls did not go because they were in dresses. After we all took our turn of crawling in the caves, we spent the rest of the day playing in the woods, and we would get back just in time to catch the bus.”
What Ingram may not have known is girls also went into the caves. Nancy Poston’s mother, Martha Bobo, who would be 107 years old if she was still living, did skip school on April Fool’s Day, and she did crawl into the caves.
So did Sarah Smith Hughes. Hughes turned 99 in April and is the eldest living student found. She said that on April Fool’s Day all the children met up in front of the school and went up behind the Methodist church to where the caves were. She said it was probably dangerous that they went in them. She said they crawled in, sometimes could stand a little and then had to crawl out again. Students came back to the school before dismissal.
She said they took their lunch with them for the day, and her lunch also contained the same “river cakes” Ingram had in his lunchbox.
Event co-chairman Jolie White Britt is excited the countdown has begun.
“The Tuckers Crossroads School 100-Year Celebration is less than two weeks away on May 3,” Britt said. “Many former alumni are asking what they can do to help. The celebration includes a cake walk, with a live bluegrass band, and we would love to have homemade cakes and pies from former students. Just bring your cake the day of the event.”
Doors open at 4 p.m., and in addition to the cake walk, guests will enjoy a musical event by Tony Cook, starring both current and former students. Teachers are opening their rooms to hold carnival games. The library will have a buy-one, get-one free book fair, and hardback books will be available to purchase as gifts to the school in honor or memory of current and former students and teachers.
A spaghetti dinner for $5 per plate will be available, and T-shirts for $10, memory books for $15 and cookbooks for $10 will all be for sale.
Admission is free, however, a $5 hand stamp allows anyone to play unlimited games and walk for cakes as many times as needed.
Free shuttle service will be available to and from the Tuckers Crossroads ball field on Big Springs Road. School parking is reserved for handicapped and elderly guests.