PCHS alumna reflects on Homecoming memories
Published 3:00 am Thursday, September 17, 2015
Pike County High School has long been known as a strong supporter of its Bulldog football team.
And long before the fans were yelling, “Who let the dogs out!” the fans were fanatical about their Dawgs and yelled “Shift to the left. Shift to the right. Our fellows can fight, fight, fight” and “We’ve got the T-E-A-M that’s on the B-E-A-M. We’ve got the team that’s on the beam and we’re hep to the jive. Come on fellows skin ’em alive.”
Nellie Sue Ryals Helms isn’t sure if she jumped to her feet to join in a cheer or to cheer a Bulldog touchdown. All she remembers is that she had jumped to her feet and then she was on the ground under the bleachers and bleeding from the head.
“Back when I was at Pike County High School, we had wooden bleachers,” she said. “The seat was wood and the foot piece was wood. When I jumped up to cheer, the foot piece broke and I fell under the bleachers.”
Helms was in the tenth grade and her dad had driven her to the ballgame where she joined her friends on the bleachers to watch the Bulldogs triumph over their opponent.
The bleachers had weathered the years and just couldn’t support the weight of a dozen cheering fans.
“When the board broke I went right through to the ground,” Helms said. “On the way down, I hit my head and cut my scalp.”
Helms was taken to Dr. LaDon Golden’s office that was not far from the football field.
“Dr. Golden was open at 9:30 at night,” Helms said. “He shaved a spot around the cut, stitched the cut and sent me home with my daddy.”
For Helms, that was the most memorable high school football game she attended.
“But high school students were energetic and enthusiastic and we responded to the cheerleaders and to the action on the field,” Helms said. “We were excited just to be at the football game.
“After some home games, we had a dance in the auditorium and danced to music played on the record player. Those were rather simple times but good times.”
Mary Helms Adams was a grade behind in school. She said although the Bulldog’s “stadium” was small and rather modest by today’s standards, it was a great place for football.
“Going to the pep rally on Friday afternoon was a real treat,” she said. “We looked forward to the pep rally all week. We got to get out of class and go cheer for our team. And, when we got to have a bonfire, that was really something.”
Adams said all the football games began with an invocation and prayer.
“Mr. Vanderford, our principal, always prayed for our sins of omission and commission,” Adams said. “Then, we saluted the flag while the band played the National Anthem and then it was time for the kickoff.
And, just as exciting as the football game on Friday night was the halftime show put on by the marching band.
“The band would march out on the field and go over to the visitors side and form the letter “S” for Samson and play a song. Then the band would come to the home side and form the letter “B” and play a song,” she said. “Back then bands played Sousa marches and always ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and the ‘PCHS Alma Mater.’”
Adams also remembered the dances after the football games and the extra special homecoming dance.
“Homecoming was very special,” she said. “The alumni of the odd or even numbered graduating years came back and it was like a big family reunion. We had a reception for the alumni at the school and the girls in home economics fixed the food. It was a very exciting time. All of football season was. I hope students today have as much fun and as many good memories as we, the classes of the 1950s and early 1960s, had at the Friday night high school football games.”