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HUCKABY: PTA in Buckhead not what it was in Porterdale

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I know one thing. That stuff wouldn't have gone over in Harper Valley!

I am referring now to the PTA scandal that was uncovered at E. Rivers Elementary School in Buckhead this week. That's the Atlanta Buckhead, understand -- not the deer hunting Buckhead in Morgan County.

It turns out that more than $53,000 went missing from the school's Parent Teacher Association foundation. I first heard of the story Wednesday while watching the morning news on WSB, in hopes that Karen Minton would promise more rain for my parched yard and garden.

She didn't.

When I heard the story two questions popped immediately into my head. One -- if $53,000 was embezzled from the PTA, how much money was in their account to begin with? And two -- how do you get a job at that school?

My mind also began to wander down memory lane -- something it is more and more wont to do these days -- to the PTA programs of my childhood at Porterdale School. Let me say this. WSB had a live feed of some moms walking into the PTA meeting at E. Rivers in Buckhead and I promise, none of the moms who walked into the Porterdale School auditorium in the 1950s looked anything like those ladies!

Once again I asked myself, "How do you get a job at that school?"

PTA night was a big deal back in Porterdale. Mill folks were serious about their children getting an education -- and hopefully one that would not involve looms or twisters or breathing the foul air of the card room. I was admonished every morning to "mind the teacher" and "behave myself," the general consensus being that if I did those two things, learning would take care of itself.

After 38 years as a classroom teacher, I can testify with complete confidence that the general consensus was spot on.

Since the parents in Porterdale were serious about their children's educations, they were serious about doing whatever they could to support the school and the school's faculty, and one of the main things they could do was become active in the PTA.

Meetings were held once a month. Attendance was always high. Cookies and punch were served and parents were urged to leave the children at home -- unless said children were performing in some way, of course, or receiving an award.

I must have performed often because I don't have any awards sitting around the house that I received at PTA and I remember going to a lot of meetings. Honesty compels me to admit that they were pretty boring affairs for the most part. Miss Jordy Tanner, our principal and the only person I have ever known with eyes in the back of her head, usually spoke and had a wish list of items she hoped the PTA could purchase or projects she hoped they could complete.

Jordy Tanner was wanting items like extra Popsicle sticks and library paste, understand, for crafts. I can assure you that she never asked for $53,000 worth of anything!

Once in a great while a bit of controversy might erupt during the meeting. One mother raised a big stink once because they couldn't seem to keep toilet paper in the bathroom. She had sent a whole case to the school but her child's teacher kept it in the cloak room and dispensed it as needed. The lady was upset because her child was embarrassed because he had to carry the roll of TP down the hall when he had to go and in her words, "Everybody who saw him knew why he was going."

I was only 8, but even I was smart enough to know that if the dude was going to the bathroom during class he was going to do one of two things. Nonetheless, she started a big rigmarole at the PTA meeting.

Let me insert right here that I never had a problem with carrying toilet paper down the hallway of the school. In fact, I looked forward to it. We were still using pages of the Sears-Roebuck catalogue at the house.

The highlight of each PTA meeting was the room count. Each teacher would stand up and then all of that teacher's parents who were in attendance would stand and be counted. There was a cash prize for the teacher with the best class attendance -- to be used for supplies for the room, of course -- and the competition was stiff. Miss Lucy Robinson's room always seemed to win and my mama insisted that she must be bribing her kids with nickel cups of ice cream or something.

Life was a lot different in 1958. At least some school somewhere has an active group of parents and the good news is that most of the stolen money has apparently been recovered. I am glad, too, because you can buy a lot of Popsicle sticks and library paste for $53,000.

And I'd still like to know how you get a job at that school.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.

Comments

RiggaTony 2 years, 4 months ago

You're right, Mr. Huckaby. As many country music songs will tell you, country people are always superior to city people. And obviously, this country was a much better place when we were young. The 50's especially, because the ne'er-do-wells had yet to come into power.

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