Looking back at Banks School

Published 9:12 pm Friday, February 5, 2021

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Don Renfroe won’t be there when the Banks School is razed.

Not that he doesn’t understand the dance called progress or that he has great attachment to the bricks and mortar.

“Just what do I need a brick for?” Renfroe said, laughing.

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Renfroe doesn’t need a brick to remind him of the school where he received the best education a country boy could receive. All Renfroe needs to do is to sit back, close his eyes and he’s a little boy again, back at Banks School. He memories are the mortar that binds him to that place.

“I started to Banks School in 1954,” Renfroe said. “Back then, all there was to Banks School was what is now the old part of the building. That and the outhouses.”

Renfroe, laughingly, said the “outhouses” weren’t attached to the building.

“There were several stalls and stools, for the boys and another set for the girls,” he said. “But, we didn’t know any better. None of us had indoor plumbing at home either.”

Renfroe said the girls’ outhouses were on one side of the camps and the boys on the other.
“And I never set foot in the girls’ outhouse,” he said. “Back then, we respected authority and with no questions asked.”

The lunchroom was not attached to the “schoolhouse” and “the food was great.”

“I don’t think any of us ate that good at home,” Renfroe said. “Our dinner was 20 cents but those that didn’t have money for lunch brought theirs in a sack. Some children didn’t like milk but I’d drink theirs and I’d eat the food they didn’t want off their plates.”

Renfroe said the “crackerbox” of an auditorium was where the students met for assembly, the parents for PTA and everyone gathered around the sides for basketball games.

Renfroe’s mother, “Miss” Mildred, was the boys’ coach and with her at the helm, Banks was hard to beat and in a very competitive “league” that included Banks, Springhill, Goshen, Shellhorn and Josie.

The classrooms had wooden desks, a blackboard with chalk and erasers. It was a special treat to get to dust the erasers.

And, then, there was the cloak room to hang coats on a cold winter’s day and a place of blistering pain on a bad behavior day.

“And, if you got a paddlin’s at school you knew you had another one in store for you when you go home,” Renfroe said, laughingly. “When I moved up to junior high school in Brundidge, it was a letdown. The food wasn’t as good and we were no longer on a tight leash. I’d put Banks School up against any, then or now, no matter if it has outhouses or state-of-the-art labs, there’s no school like Banks School. Just ask anybody that went there and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Like Renfroe said, what does he need a brick for?