Luke Boyd column

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2010

Batesville ‘Village’ had hand in raising boys of the 1950s

Early in June I came back to Batesville for my 60th high school class reunion. There were a lot of old people there—of which I was one.  It was good to see some I’d not seen since graduation.  Everybody called me L. G. back then. Mrs. Frances Seale, our senior English teacher and director of the senior play, was there.  She looked better than any of us.  Must be something in the Batesville water.

We had all grown up during WW II.  We graduated in May 1950.  The next month the Korean War broke out.  Several of our class served in that conflict without suffering any casualties.

Ours was the first class to graduate from the yellow brick building just north of the old red brick structure just a block off the Square.  We moved in January 1950 and really thought we were high class.  The auditorium was not yet built but we had a cafeteria—quite a step up from the lunchroom of folding tables behind the curtain on the stage in the gym.  We were Batesville High School, Tigers, Blue and Gold.   Time has changed the name and colors.

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Batesville was small 60 years ago—maybe 2000 people. The town was centered on the Square and the railroad depot. You had a hard time finding a place to park on Saturday.  The bus station was out near the Highway 6-51 junction. The interstate was some years in the future.

The town had no police force.  Mr. Seale was the town Constable/Deputy/Marshal. I’ve forgotten exactly what his title was. He had a daughter in my class. We all knew he was the law since he wore a Stetson hat, short police-style boots, and carried a gun on his hip. He patrolled the town on foot, making regular rounds and stopping often at the Pool Hall on the northwest corner of the square where he would take a seat from which he could view most of the town’s business district.

The statement, “It takes a village to raise a child,” has been somewhat over-used but it is true, nevertheless.   Practically everyone in town knew everyone else and should a youngster be in need of correcting, the closest adult did so with the full support of the child’s parents. And the child took the correction because he knew he’d be in deep trouble at home if he didn’t. One of my classmates related one such incident during our reunion.

“Another fellow and I had early morning paper routes. It was barely light one morning when we arrived on the Square to pick up our papers where the delivery truck from Memphis had dropped them off. We noticed that a nearby grocery store had received an early produce delivery which was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the store.

“Among the boxes was a crate of oranges.  We pried up one corner and each of us took an orange for an early snack. What we didn’t know was that Mr. Seale was on the other side of the Square making an early morning round. He didn’t say anything to us at that time but did approach us later that day and say, ‘Boys, I saw you all get those oranges this morning. You know that’s not right.  You both need to go to the store, pay for them, and apologize.  If you don’t, your parents are going to have to find out about this.’

“Of course the last person I wanted to know I’d stolen something was my father.  He’d have half-killed me.  So we hustled straight over to the store and made things right.  It was only a few cents but it was the principle that mattered.  I never stole anything else.”

Yes, times and the town have changed a lot in 60 years.  I don’t know whether that could happen these days or not. However, I’d like to think that the “village” of Batesville is still raising kids the same way.

(Dr. Lucas G. “Luke” Boyd moved to Batesville in grade 6 and graduated in 1950.  He retired as Principal of Battle Ground Academy, Franklin, Tenn. after 48 years in education.  He holds a B.S. from Ole Miss, an M.S. from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Ph.D. in English History from the University of Tennessee.  He has published three books and numerous pieces of short fiction.  He writes regular columns for a local newspaper and a senior living magazine.  He and his wife Sara Rose (Ferrell), class of 1951, live in Franklin, Tenn., and may be contacted at