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Never Fade Away

Some 1939 classmates are now gone, but time has etched their words in diamonds.

In 1939, Miss Hazel Baker taught the fourth and fifth grades in the small East Texas town of Rosevine, near the Louisiana border in Sabine County. The two grades shared the same room. I was in the fourth grade, and my sister, a fifth-grader, gave me a 5-inch-by-4-inch green book titled “My School-Day Autobiography.”

It contained 50 blank pages on which my classmates could write their thoughts. I collected short essays from 20 classmates and one from my teacher. Originally, they were worthless, but time has etched them in diamonds.

These are Miss Baker’s comments exactly as written seven decades ago:

April 25, 1939

Dear Harry,

I am glad you decided to let the girls write in your book. We were all crazy to “peep” inside.

I am sure we will never forget you, Harry, but we also want you to remember us. I am sure you will remember trying to keep your desk straight. I think you have been a real clever little boy; and you have worked hard when you remembered to do so. You have been fun as well as pep to the Fourth Grade.

“Miss” Baker

Miss Baker’s entry was succinct—telling reams about me in six short sentences. She made it clear that at age 9 I was anti-girls, I kept a cluttered desk and I had to be prodded to do my assignments. She also identified me as a class clown full of energy and ideas. She was right on all counts. I grew out of the first one, but am still guilty of the others.

Looking through the book spurred me to research the whereabouts of my elementary classmates and compile a partial list for my records (a few names have slipped away and couldn’t be included). The research surfaced a wide range of emotions, certainly sadness at the large number of former classmates who have passed on. Pure joy emerged when I talked to classmates in person or by telephone. I was surprised each time I couldn’t find any information. Overall, it was an enriching experience.

As for Miss Hazel Baker, she was born August 20, 1909, and grew up in the Hebron (Massey) community in San Augustine County. Her parents were W.H. and Leona West Baker, and she had three sisters: Eria Baker, Eldora Baker Winn and Corine Baker Thompson. After earning her credentials, she taught in Midland, Hebron and Rosevine, among other places.

She married Fred Cobb. He died in the late 1960s and was buried in the Tebo Cemetery. She died July 1, 2001, and was buried near her parents in the Hebron Cemetery.

To Miss Hazel Baker: A special salute for the tremendous job you did all those years ago. Thank you.

Harry Noble lives in Iola and is a frequent contributor to Texas Co-op Power.