This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.
Graduating from a school and starting a new chapter in life at another campus can be a bittersweet moment.
Charles Armstrong remembers his last days at Bell's Hill
Elementary School in Waco:
"They asked everybody that wanted to, to write a little something about the school, what they—what they learned or didn't learn. So I wrote a little poem, entitled ‘Good-bye, Bell's Hill.' Said:
Good-bye, Bell's Hill, good-bye.
I'm leaving you now, but I won't forget,
The time I've spent with you.
The boys and girls and teachers great,
My memory will be with you.
I've journeyed with you for days and years,
And now we drift apart.
The pleasant memories of things gone by,
Is written in my heart.
Good-bye, Bell's Hill, good-bye."
Mrs. Armstrong: "It's darling."
Interviewer: "That's nice."
He recalls a time in 1941 when he and his wife Ruth, who also grew up in Bell's Hill, returned to the school:
"They'd vote up there at the school; they still do. And I was voting for the first time, and she was. I walked down the hall there. I was going there to pick her up and walked down the hall and looked on the bulletin board, and my poem was still up there—this one. It stayed up there at least seven years I know, maybe longer, but I remember seeing that/it stayed there(??)."
Mary Sendón describes the excitement and emotions of graduating from Waco High:
"From the time I was in grade school I knew I was going to go to Baylor when I finished high school. And my dad, he was going to make arrangements for me to go to Baylor in the fall. And that was all planned out. One thing that my graduation did—(laughs) we graduated in First Baptist Church. My entire family turned out, regardless of the fact that they were disappointed that I didn't quit school like they wanted me to. But the whole family, the great-uncles and the great-aunts. And I think deep down they had a little pride in the fact that I—that I did go ahead, you know. But I had—they had a whole section there in First Baptist Church, (laughs) and I remember them all sitting there. And—but it put a stop to all of that feeling of matchmaking, you know, that sort of thing: What you going to do now? What are you going to do? And nobody asked me that anymore.
"I had a feeling I had cut loose from something. I don't know. It was just a kind of a—not a disturbed feeling—but I was really sorry to leave Waco High in a way because the last two years of my Waco High were just—I loved every bit of it. And, of course, I knew I had something better to look forward to, according to my dad. (laughs) But it sort of meant the end of one section of my life. I said—that was 1919. It was like a decade of my life was—was out now. That was finished, like I closed the book on it."
Everyone deserves a school experience that makes it sad to leave, even with new adventures and people on the horizon.
Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco's NPR. For program transcripts or more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit baylor.edu/livingstories.
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