Hula Hoop and Plaid Day on the Eugene Field playground – a photo memory shared by Kathy Bigley Wright.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Fun at school

Picture of Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

July 10, 2024

We are living in such a busy society these days. Parents are so busy with their careers, social commitments and trying to fit their kids’ schedules in with theirs. Children are busy with school, sports… and electrical devices. Most families meet each other coming and going. It is harder than ever to find time for the family to sit together at meals and to have some one-on-one time.

There I did it… I found an excuse to bring in the legend of “the good ole days.” I ran across a story I had written in 1990 about an event in Webb City which happened on April 4, 1930. That is really going back in time.

The Junior High voted to put on a circus for a fun activity. A lot of time and energy went into the planning and performing at this great event. Teachers, parents, and students devoted their best to making this circus a success. Too many helpers to name them all, but we mention a few names as we go along. Most of the school participated. If not in work, they were there for the fun. The event grew from a circus to include a parade and a minstrel show.

A stage was built for the circus acts to perform and the minstrel show to delight the audience. The PTA ladies set up booths to sell many tempting delights, such as ice cream, soda pop, candy, pop corn and novelties. Their featured attraction was the Country General Store, set up with items donated by local merchants. Prizes for the fish pond consisted of items brought from the students’ homes. Those who brought items were allowed to march from classroom to classroom showing off their prizes in this “White Elephant” parade.

The macho volunteers were in the basement setting up a boxing show conducted by Dr. Pritchett and Johnny Herod. The list of soon-to-be famous boxing greats included Bill Degraffenreid, Luster Sweetland, Lilbourne Boyer, Charles Wilson, Raymond Hamilton, Roy Carpenter, Homer Huddleston, Malcom Roundtree and Leroy Williams. When I say they were soon to become famous, I don’t mean in the boxing legends… I mean famous in their own hometown for their bravery of getting in the ring.

Ringmaster of the circus was Everett Smith. The circus included animals, tumblers, music and clowns… no high flying trapeze artists though!

Robert Lucas was the master of ceremony at the rowdy minstrel show, supported by Jimmie Morgan and Leo Dugger. The young gents and ladies graceing the stage with their dancing talents, including; Beverly Davis, Charles Motley, Eva Wren and Betty Lou Havens. Sheldon Watkins brought the audience members to life as they clapped along with his “mouth organ” music. There was plenty of music and dancing to please the crowd.

This event was the talk of the town for a long time. A big thanks went out to the dedicated teachers who were greatly involved. These teachers were always going above and beyond their duty as teachers. They were Mayme Stinnett, Icae Algeo, Grace Burton, Frances Hitner, Eunice Newman, Helen Duvenick, Freda Allen, Dean Eaker and S. Joe Williams.

A special thanks went to the ever faithful PTA ladies and the many parents who gave the students more than a future, they gave them memories!

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Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.