Albert H. Morehead

Your reminiscences of the Mountain School gave me great pleasure and I thought they were beautifully written, too. You may not know it, but I too am an alumnus of the Lookout Mountain School. I attended it for three or maybe even four months in 1917, when I was seven years old going‑on‑eight.

During the winter of 1916-17, just before we got into the war, we had a terrible winter in Kentucky. In central Kentucky where we lived, the natural gas mains froze and there was no heat in town with the temperature below zero. Two families of us, we and our next‑door neighbors, lived for a week in one room, the front upstairs bedroom in our house, with one oil stove. That was all you could get the coal-oil for. They had two children too, so there were eight of us in that room. The minute it was warm enough to venture onto the streets, Jim was shipped off to Cincinnati and I to grandmother on Lookout Mountain, and I was promptly enrolled in the Lookout Mountain School.

The grades were combined then, of course; the first, second and third were in my room, which was the one toward the incline on the downstairs floor. I suppose the fourth, fifth and sixth were in the other downstairs room and the big boys and girls, seventh to ninth grades, were upstairs. First one class would recite and then the other and then the other, and in between times we could pass notes or throw spitballs. The bathroom facilities, one for boys and one for girls, were slightly down the hill, sheltered by trees and shrubbery, and different in one important respect: The girls had separate doors.

I can't remember if I learned anything, but I do remember that we had our year-end theatricals and it wasn't any dull old recitations and recitals of the kind you recount. We put on a musical play! A music-and-elocution teacher had been imported from some far‑off place, such as Chattanooga, and she coached and directed. I was a member of the chorus of fairies and so help me I still remember some of the words and music of the song that was the finale, in which we fairies sang "Come all aboard to bye-lo land. And each take a fairy by the hand," the other chorus suiting the action to the words at this point. My costume, made chiefly of yellow crape paper, included wings. In those days there was no opprobrium attached to being a fairy.

Speaking of the meanings of words, I remember also a special meaning that I learned in the Lookout Mountain School. With a spitball or whatever, I had offended one of my classmates and he said, ominously, "I'll see you when we get out for noon." You may also recall this meaning of the word noon. It did not mean twelve o'clock meridian, but rather "the period in which the pupils go home to eat, or eat the food they have brought with them if they live too far away to go home." In this definition I have had to avoid the word "lunch," which then existed hardly if at all. Dinner was the midday meal and supper the evening meal, except that evening also had a different meaning, running from approximately 3 to 5:30 p.m. As I remember, at the Lookout Mountain School noon began at 12:30.

The dinkey, of course, I remember as well as I remember my own brother. If it came along while one was walking across a trestle, it would stop and the motorman‑conductor, a Mr. Harbison, would bawl one out unmercifully, make one climb aboard, discharge one at the end of the trestle at which one had started, and adjure one not to walk across a trestle ever again. Then the dinkey would proceed on its way with a great ringing of bells, activated by Mr. Harhison's stepping vigorously and frequentatively on a pedal that sometimes stuck. As soon as the dinkey had rounded the corner one started off across the trestle again, going fast this time so as to get across before the dinkey arrived on its return trip. The terminus of the dinkey then was the former Mountain House, which was abandoned property for some years and then became J. B. Pound's new place. A year later they built the line all the way up the mountain, and the dinkey was replaced by big interurban cars that had ear-piercing whistles instead of foot-operated bells.

By that time the old incline had long been abandoned and grass was growing all over the tracks, some sections of which had been lifted out and carried away by strong‑backed souls who were willing to risk hernias for the sake of the steel — used, I suppose, to make joists for their cabins — but an ancient boarding hotel persisted at the end of what had been the old incline and a spur of track carried the dinkey there on its regular run. Seldom did the dinkey gross more than ten cents per trip on this spur — two old ladies at five cents each — and eventually the Tennessee Electric Power Co. discontinued the spur and grass grew over its tracks too. But although Mr. Engel had set up a new shop near the top of the new incline, plus his museum at Point Park, he maintained his old shop at the end of the old incline. This must have been a sentimental gesture on his part, because there can't have been any business there. Old peg‑legged Captain Lively sat and whittled outside one or the other of them, now one and now the other, apparently unwilling to be the last to relinquish the old or to embrace the new. The souvenirs were all Civil War mementos and the ones that appealed most to me were the ones with tiny glass inserts, at most an eighth of an inch in length, through which you could look and see a battlefield. The last time I wandered into a Lookout Mountain "museum," now under brand‑new ownership since the Engel family turned to baseball, I asked about the souvenirs with the little glass eyepieces and I was told that they are no longer available because they always came from some cottage industry in Germany and they have vanished with that industry.

Captain Lively's son John, of course, became the attorney general and was "General Lively" thereafter. Mr. Harbison's name has stayed with me because of the coincidence of its beginning with the name of Mr. Harbin, who was manager of both incline and. dinkey for the Tennessee Electric Power Co., and who therefore was Mr. Harbison's boss. Mr. Harbin would stick in my memory partly because Jim and I did the equivalent, as of that time, of "going steady" with two of his daughters, Jim's being named Mildred and mine Snookie; but even more I remember the Harbins because of the Stones and the Stoners.

Mr. Stoner was in charge of the water tower, not that I have ever known the exact duties of a person who is in charge of a water tower; and he was also the constable, the ice man, and — after 1920 — the bootlegger. I think it was a small-town tradition in those early Prohibition years that you could buy liquor from the ice man. Mr. Stone probably had a job, but I'm not sure what. Anyway, Mr. Harbin married a sister of Mr. Stone's and Mr. Stoner married another sister of Mr. Stone's. They had children, who were first cousins. Then Mr. Stoner died and his widow married a brother of Mr. Harbin's and they had children, who were double first cousins of the other Harbin children. Then the first Mrs. Harbin died and Mr. Harbin married a half‑sister of Mr. Stones, and they had children who we cousins-and-a-half of the other children. So Jim's and my girls had cousins, double cousins, and cousins-and-a-half, and we were very impressed by the fact that they knew which was which.

In those, my earliest years on Lookout Mountain, Dr. Hyde had the Presbyterian Church; this was long before Uncle William rebuilt it. You probably remember Dr. Hyde and Miss Fanny B. If you remember Dr. Hyde, you probably cannot imagine anyone more conservative in religion; but Dr. Bachman used to sputter with rage at the radical ideas of his son‑in‑law, who went so far as to believe that a person could be Saved after being subjected to total immersion. When I was six or seven or maybe even eight, grandmother and the whole family used to sit on the front porch on Sunday afternoons so that passers-by would know that we were "receiving." Dr. Bachman, between his three church services, would be driven along the mountain roads, usually by an unidentifiable Negro but occasionally by Nathan, and he would stop and sit in a rocking chair and sputter to grandmother about the low state of morals in the world. I was never on the porch on such occasions, but I would be playing down below, on a level with the latticework between the apron of the porch and the ground, and my impression of the utmost in righteous indignation is probably grounded on Dr. Bachman's booming tones. This was perhaps ten years before the Scopes trial, and I think Dr. Bachman was dead by then, but I have no doubt about which side he would have been on. Nathan, who became one of East Tennessee's most famous orators, sat on the porch when he was along but never opened his mouth.

I do remember the touring car Dr. Bachman rode in, by one feature that sticks in memory: The gear‑shift lever was out on the running board, and it was all made out of brass.

Well, I seem to have rambled. All I really wanted to say was that I am a fellow-alumnus of yours, and also I am a veteran of picnics at Lula Lake and the glen and Rock City, and also I love you.



Mrs. William Crutchfield 105 Mitchell Place Lookout Mountain, Tennessee