The Old Bruno School
The Saturday after Thanksgiving was such a beautiful day that Greg and I decided to take a ramble with the camera. We wound up just a mile from home at the Old Bruno School, a place that is very dear to my heart.
Bruno used to boast of two one-room schoolhouses on either side of the Hampton creek. But in 1920 it was decided that there should be only one school for the area, and land was purchased from Mr. Ezekiel Adkins and a new school began. Bruno was the first Vocational Agricultural school west of the Mississippi River and the first accredited four year high school in Marion County. They began the first chapter of the Lincoln FFA. My father went to school there from first grade to graduation, and was a member of the FFA.
The elementary building was divided into four rooms. Three classrooms and a library. Each of the classrooms had one teacher who taught two grades. There was a playground to the side, which later held a slide, swing set, and a merry-go-round which my father helped to build.
Near the elementary building was the gymnasium, called Aggie Hall. It was built in 1926 and was the largest and nicest gym in the area. Below the back steps a message was carved into the sidewalk: May the doors of the school always be open to aspiring youth. James Langston.
In 1935 a new building was constructed on campus comprised of an office, three classrooms, and a shop to work on the school buses which were now being used. The high school boys who were part of the Agri class helped in the construction. My father was one of those boys. Along with the construction of this building, a swimming pool was built out back and filled from the creek near by. Tennis courts were also set up just to the lower side of the building.
There was also a building devoted solely to science. It was a wooden building painted white and comprised of two classrooms. In my day, we called it “The White Building.” It is long gone now, a victim of dry rot and termite.
I also went to school there for the first seven years. It was a wonderful place to grow and learn. If you ask me for my favorite teachers from school, all three of them were from Bruno. Mrs. Nellie Cooper (third and fourth grade), Mr. Jimmy Joe Sasser (fifth and sixth grade, and a local legend around here), and Mrs. Janice Davis, the librarian and the English/Literature teacher. And my best friend’s dad was the principal, Edgar Loftin.
As we walked around the campus, the first thing I saw was the tree. I don’t know how old this tree is, but it is at least 50 since I started school when I was 7. It is still there, bent over and stretching its branches protectively over both the drive and play ground. If you take a good run at this tree, you can go right up to the branches along the leaning trunk. I know, I’ve done it often enough. And in a dress, which resulted in me standing in a corner. You see, I was the only girl in a class of all boys and I did (or tried to do) everything they did, much to the horror of my teachers.
I took Greg on the grand tour and told him all the stories I remembered of classmates, games, catching lizards by the library steps. And then we came to the shop. This is where my Daddy worked the entire time I was in school at Bruno. I spent a lot of time in that shop, both during school and summer vacation. It was a place of safety for me. The place I ran to if I was hurt (which was often as I was a clumsy child) or sad or joyful at achieving a good grade. One of the windows is broken now, and I suddenly smelled motor oil and it all came rushing back. Daddy standing on the bumper of a bus bending over into the motor, wrench in hand. Daddy lying on the dolly with his legs just visible from under the bus. Daddy telling me to get “clear outside” while he swung a newly rebuilt engine over into place.
And then I wondered what other memories are held in this place for so many people. All the teachers who served here. All the students who passed through the rooms. All the fun, the joys, the “trauma” of life as a school child. There is so much to tell, and not enough room to write it.
Sadly in 1973 Bruno was consolidated with Pyatt (one of our rivals) and the doors were closed forever on one of the best schools in the area. Being a Bruno Aggie was the best thing in the world. And I will always be proud to be one.
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