Beloved former PCHS teacher turns 90 today

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, July 10, 2014

Myra Wilson, who taught history at Pike County High School for nearly 40 years, will celebrate her 90th birthday today.  Her niece, Diane Ray Aldridge, pictured, celebrated Wilson’s 90th birthday with her Thursday.

Myra Wilson, who taught history at Pike County High School for nearly 40 years, will celebrate her 90th birthday today. Her niece, Diane Ray Aldridge, pictured, celebrated Wilson’s 90th birthday with her Thursday.

Imagine someone greeting you with the words: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…”

If the greeting were addressed to Myra Wilson, she pick it right up with “provide for the common defense …”

Wilson taught world and American history at Pike County High School for nearly 40 years. Today, it’s not uncommon for her former students to greet her by reciting from one of America’s important documents.”

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“Just the other day, I saw Lee Arthur Mobley and he greeted me with the opening of the Preamble of the Constitution of America,” Wilson said. “Some of my students greet me with lines from the Gettysburg Address.

“When I was teaching school, I had my students memorize important things. I knew if they could learn the Gettysburg Address or the Preamble, they weren’t dummies and they could learn.”

Wilson viewed memorization as an important learning tool.

“When you memorize something, you don’t often forget it,” she said. “And, it’s important to know the history of our country and to learn from it. I wanted my students to learn and memorization was a good way to learn history.”

Wilson’s passion for history and her love of learning came from her dad and his history book.

“He had an old history book and I was fascinated by it,” she said. “It had maps and charts and I copied from it and learned from it.

Because Wilson was a “Depression baby,” she learned the value of hard work, sacrifice and perseverance.

“But, we didn’t know we were poor because we were all in the same boat,” she said. “No one mentioned that we were poor, so we weren’t. But, it took a war to bring our country out of the Great Depression.”

December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy, is etched vividly in Wilson’s mind.

“We were listening to the short-wave radio and actually heard the Japanese planes bombing Pearl Harbor,” she said. “Normally, we would have been listening to the music that was being played for the soldiers. But that Sunday, we heard bombing but we thought it was something on Arthur Godfrey’s ‘Colliding of Two Worlds’ show. We didn’t know until later that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and we would soon be in a World War.”

Wilson said patriot spirit ran high after the attack on the United States.

“Men didn’t wait to be drafted,” she said. “The lines of men waiting to enlist were backed up for what seemed like miles. There was not an able-bodied man on the streets of Brundidge. They were all gone to war.”

Wilson was a freshman at Troy State Teachers College and, by Christmas of 1941, all of the young men in her class except five were in military service.

“Four were preachers and the other had one leg that was shorter than the other,” she said.

The man Wilson would marry was among those who answered Uncle Sam’s call.

“We got married after Norman got home. I wanted to wait and see if he had changed,” Wilson said, laughing.

The country settled back down after World War II. The prevailing thought was that nothing like Pearl Harbor could ever happen again. America was on watch.

Then on Sept. 11, 2001, it did happen again. The U.S. was attacked on its own soil.

But as devastating as the terrorist attack was, there was a huge difference between the two attacks

“The attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of World War II and. “There was no World War after 9/11 and there was no rush to join the military.

Wilson completed college and went to work at the school in Ramer. She then came home to teach at Banks where she taught history and boys’ physical education.

“We played other schools in baseball and basketball,” Wilson said. “I’d put cotton bodies on the pickup truck and haul the boys like cows to games. We won most of the time. One major tournament, we lost by one point because our player got nervous and missed his free throws. He cried all the way home.”

Wilson moved to Pike County High School and it was there that she found her place in the world of wisdom.

“I enjoyed every day that I taught school and I never had a student that I didn’t like,” she said. “My husband was sick so I retired in 1987.”

Wilson had a long and storied teaching career at Pike County High School and she has not been forgotten by her students – a thousand and more.

Today, July 11 is her birthday, her 90th.

“I don’t know how people knew that my birthday was coming up,” Wilson said. “But, I’ve gotten flowers and cards and had visits. And, on my birthday, I’m going to have pizza with a thin crust and everything on it. And I’ll just keep taking life as it comes – one day at a time.”