By Shelby Boling and Peggy Layton
With the plans for the new Fountain Inn High School approved and scheduled for construction, the excitement of having a neighborhood high school back again has created a feeling of nostalgia for the old school.
Before students from the Fountain Inn area were transferred to the new Hillcrest High School, the last graduating class received their degrees in 1957. The Fountain Inn High School Blue Devil’s name was officially retired.
Thinking of the old school brings back a lot of fond memories. Several former students of the old Fountain Inn High School still live in the Fountain Inn area and relish the opportunity to show support for a new Fountain Inn High. One of those former students and a graduate of the last Fountain Inn High School class of 1957 is Shelby Boling.
When asked to contribute to this article she was more than happy and excited to participate. “Fountain Inn High School was a community family made up of caring teachers and students working together to be the Best; an education foundation which instilled moral character and ethical conduct.”
“Fountain Inn High School bonded with students through sports, namely, basketball, football, baseball, and of course cheerleaders. I loved being a cheerleader and could hardly wait for Friday nights when all embraced the spirit of the Fountain Inn High School Blue Devils,” Shelby commented: “Here are some Memories I’d like to share,” Shelby continued.
“I was a school bus driver. From 1955 to 1957 I drove a school Bus for Fountain InnHigh School. At the end of the day students waited for buses to arrive to be taken home, while being entertained by Wendell ‘Wink’ Armstrong playing the grand piano in the auditorium and always wearing his white bucks.”
“Lunch time was the highlight of the day!” Boling remembered. “The bell would ring, and students would run down the hall at the rear of the school like a stampede of cattle. Mrs. Annie Mae Fowler was the cafeteria dietitian and the food served was more the delicious. All of the students waited for the day when Mrs. Fowler served our favorite dessert… ginger bread with lemon glaze. How delicious it was! Lunch tickets for the week were $.25 and your lunch card was punched every day. (Seniors were always served first!)”
“From 1939 until 1947 school offered 11 grades with graduation after grade 11. In 1948 the 12th grade was added. In the 18 years of the Fountain Inn High School’s existence they graduated approximately 450 students. According to Edna Tripp, prior to 1939, all 11 grades were at the old elementary school building that was located at the Fountain Inn City Park, now named P.D. Terry Park. It was demolished after the elementary school was moved to the old high school building after 1957.” Boling added, “There was no middle school. We were in elementary school through seventh grade. We went to the high school building in eighth grade.”
Class trip to Washington DC and New York City
The 1957 class was the last class to graduate from the old Fountain Inn High School and the only class to take a field trip to Washington, DC and New York City. Another member of the class of ’57 Peggy Layton, recalled the exciting trip. “Most senior classes took trips after graduation and the 1957 Class worked very hard earning money with different projects like selling magazines, etc., along with the financial assistance of their parents for an extended trip to Washington, DC along with New York City. Most previous classes only visited Washington, DC.
With bags packed excited students with their parents headed to board the train in Clinton, SC, on a Sunday afternoon in late spring of 1957.
Families were waving their farewells and students were ready for the train to get moving north.
We had been instructed to remain at our best behavior, pack dress clothes and shoes; guys would need a dress jacket, and to remain together at all times. Our chaperons were Jane Hughes and James Taylor. There would be no jeans, sweat shirts, sandals, or casual clothing worn. (Girls did not wear pants in 1957; not even to school.)
Crinolines and full skirts were the fashion of the time.
Our first destination was Washington, DC for the Capitol Hill Tour, on to the Smithsonian Museum and all the Washington Monuments. We also visited Arlington National Cemetery and Mount Vernon.
From the White House and US Capitol, we journeyed to Times Square in New York City. We viewed the Statue of Liberty while floating down the Hudson River on a tour cruise. We went to Radio City Music Hall for a performance. Most of us walked the stairs of the Empire State Building to see the skyline view of the City.
We were not allowed to leave our hotel at night, contrary to a few who broke the rules and others who wanted to do the same.
Our tour guides were very knowledgeable, and it was a memorable trip.”
The 1957 graduating class had only 29 members and after 1957, our High School became the new elementary school. It remained in use as an elementary school until the new elementary building as built on Fairview Street in 1997.
A plaque has been attached to the front of the building recognizing it as an historical building. It was listed on the National Register-June 3, 2009.♦