The Pine Grove School was located at Oak Hill, between Lyerly and the Alpine community south of Menlo.  In 1936, Miss Blanche Toles began her remarkable 50-year teaching career at this little school.    

pine grove school
The school as it appeared in 1936.  

school kids
The children enjoying a recess, 1937.

pine grove kids
1938, Miss Blanche Toles's primary grade class.

(L-R)  Front row:  Hazel Joyner, Lena Smith.  

Second row:  Kathleen Brown, Mary Stallings, Duain Yancey, Dorthy Holt, Joe Yarbrough.

Third row: Pearl West, Wendell Reese, Hayden Mitchell, Kathryn Vernon.

Fourth row:  Clyde Hall, Joe Johnson, Frances Rosser, Billy Ward, Talmadge Bullard.

Fifth row:  Kathleen Stallings, Aubrey Connaway, Robbie Yarbrough, Emilie West.

Sixth row:  Harold Vernon, Hubert Holt, Ruth Holt, Charles Ward, Kathryn Johnson.

Seventh row:  Bobbie Dempsey, Mildred Mitchell, Beulah West, Thelma Smith.

Back row:  Edith White, Almeter Stallings, Paul Rosser, Billy Rickett, Frank Reece.              

Miss Toles continued her teaching career in 1942 when she moved to Menlo School.  Anyone who remembers Miss Toles will recall her wry sense of humor, and any teacher will appreciate her request to the principal as recorded in the following poem she wrote in 1971:

Labor Negotiates With Management About Numbers
by Blanche Toles

I remember as of this date
Teachers have not been allowed to negotiate.
But since this trend is on its way
I am sending my terms to you today
Really to see just what you will say.

Before signing the contract I have in hand
I feel forced to make this one demand.
Believing that my employer wants the best of work
So from this request I do not shirk.
Since individual work is what the experts scream
Then limit my number of pupils to nineteen.

Although this request you will know is in jest,
If granted, I would last longer and I could do my best.
The idea of retiring after 35 years of school
To me, is simply against my rule.
If you give only 19 pupils to me
My goal, 60 years of labor, I might see.
With about 40 down and only 20 to go
I might just reach that goal, you know.

My memory is as good as secretary Young
and I have complete control of my tongue.
My feet can walk a mile you know
Without any puff or without any blow.
My brain doesn't yet operate slow
And facts from my lips still come in a flow.
To leave now, no reason have I seen
Except the point in question, more than 19.

As you consider this be honest, fair and clean
Then I'm sure you will allot me only 19.
But if you don't and turn out to be mean
I'll turn into a terrible fiend.
I'll carry a placard where it can be seen
Saying UNFAIR, 19, 19.

Photographs from the Blanche Toles collection.

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Copyright 2011 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.