Remember That Time
By By Janet Little Cooper
Atmore native Max Parker has fond memories of his years growing up in Atmore and attending school at Escambia County Training School.
The 1959 ECTS graduate, who has moved on in life to earn his Ph. D and work in the Department of Mental Health at the University of Florida, comes back to Atmore on occasion to visit family and friends and reminisce of days gone by.
Memories, however, are the only thing left of the old training school for Parker. Whereas, most schools have yearbooks and the original building in some cases to help them recall the people and events from their high school years, the students of ECTS have neither.
"Unfortunately, students from ECTS do not have the luxury of having yearbooks to aid in remembering the experiences of their high school days," Parker said. "The few books that were published were either destroyed in the fire when the school burned or they were lost over the years. Luckily, yearbooks from 1950 and 1968 were found and were used to assist me in writing a memory book."
In an attempt to capture the memories experienced by those in attendance at ECTS in 1959, Parker published alumni yearbook featuring class members and their families focusing on the students, their leisure activities and personal statements about how they have changed over the years.
Upon publication of the book, alumni from other classes became interested and requested that Parker compile another book to include ECTS alumni from the schools inception in 1926 until the end 1970.
The end result, just recently published, "Remember That Time",focuses on the memories that students could recall, Parker said.
"The big question was "What should be included in a memory book?" Parker said. "We thought that a book that only covered memories of alumni would be limited. Therefore, we decided to include a variety of topics to pique the interest of our readers."
Parker said that the greatest challenge in compiling the book was twofold – contacting all the class members and that many important school events were never recorded or photographed.
"We did not have a list of names and addresses of ECTS classmates, it was impossible to contact them all," Parker said. "It was necessary to contact members by word of mouth. And then so many events were not recorded. It is tragedy that the memory of many of the ECTS events have been lost forever. Unlike the Escambia County High School Blue Devils, the ECTS Eagles received almost no media coverage of school events until the late 1960s."
Despite those challenges, Parker was able to compile the book to the best of his ability and feels that the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
"I had the joy of talking with students I had not seen or spoken to in many years," Parker said. "When the call for memory information was sent out across the nation, classmates began to communicate with one another like never before and knowledge of our past helps us to understand our future."
The book "Remember That Time" offers an incredible journey back in time through the memories of former students and faculty.
"My memories of the ECTS were very good," teacher and 1957 graduate of ECTS Artilia Jones Reese (Peggy) stated in the book, "I remember the fact that we had good and caring teachers and activities in which all students could participate if they chose to do so. The school provided an environment for learning and social activities in order to make the students well-rounded individuals. We were groomed to become good citizens in society, and most of us took advantage of that opportunity. I remember how students in my class were very competitive in the classroom, which was a means of motivation for each of us. ECTS was the stepping-stone for those who graduated from there to what we are today."
ECTS music education and director of the high school choir, Willie J. Grissett had fond memories as well.
"My most gratifying experience as a teacher was to discover that all children can learn if you find their learning style," Grissett stated in the book. "I had many unforgettable moments at ECTS, but when I see how many of our students have become greatly successful in their chosen careers and professions, my moment to remember is where they started from."
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of "Remember That Time," contact Harold Daily at 368-4752 or Dr. McBride at 368-3030.