{memory lane} MissCo School

Today, I took a little drive down memory lane and visited a place where I spent most of my life until I was 18… MissCo Public School in West Ridge, AR.

I’m not really sure who owns it now, but it’s a hollow echo of the majestic campus it once was.

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas

My mother and I drove up to the front and I marched resolutely up to the door of the steps underneath this sign that once led to the Superintendent’s offices and Ms. Wilmuth’s room.

Knock… knock…

Nothing…

After repeating this futile exercise a few more times, I returned to the car. We drove down to the end of the campus in hopes of finding a human that would allow us to enter and capture the interior on camera, but nothing emerged except desolation and memories.

We turned the car around and I clicked off a few shots as we slowly drove by.

Mississippi County Elementary School- MissCo School

Where It All Began

THIS… this is where it all began… these side steps led to the beginnings… Kindergarten and 1st grade.

The Kindergarten program wasn’t established until I had started first grade, so I missed out on daily snacks and nap time. But my baby brother, Anthony, went through Ms. Colburn’s class.

First grade was filled with a lovely contraption called an abacus and stories about Dick and Jane. It’s also where I had my first crush on a boy named Michael.

Across the hall was 2nd grade and stories about Flat Stanley. Next door was the coveted music room where I vividly remember crooning to the tune of, “Up On The Housetop” while practicing for a Christmas program… the teacher rambunctiously playing the piano with me dinging along on the triangle.

On the other side stands the cafeteria where my mother worked and the remainder of the elementary rooms… most notably 3rd grade… it was that room where I spent the better part of the year in a futile attempt to persuade my peers to refer to me as KayeCee instead of plain, old Mary Kaye.

Fourth grade was a blur, but fifth grade brought Ms. Lovell and a glorious sleepover for the girls that included my first introduction to an actual swimming pool. Sixth grade brought my best friend, Karren, who remained by my side until I was 20.

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas- MissCo

Reflections of Gym Class

The gymnasium has undergone SUCH changes! The doorway where we used to hide and exchange secrets is gone… replaced by white metal doors. Big drum barrels line the playground in front where the tennis courts used to be. I have no idea what’s in them… not really sure I WANT to know.

But the windows… ah, yes… the windows are still there… somewhat…

The top two rows are boarded, but the bottom ones still shine with the mirrored coating… reflections of the past that have changed so much… trees sway defiantly in the reflections… they seem angry to me… perhaps they seek revenge for their ancestors that were so savagely uprooted with the death of the campus those many years ago…

None of these living trees are as majestic as the one beside the courts that we used to romp around as children… massive roots… perfect hiding spots… skinned knees… ducking from the teacher’s view…

But the windows themselves… What’s behind them? Does the girl’s locker room still stand? Are the showers still there? The benches? Are the echos of games and Fall Festivals still rebounding through the expanse?

Memories of playing Uno and eating lemons in the bleachers while the basketball team practiced on the floor come floating by.

The Valedictorian’s speech I gave on that glorious wooden floor has long since been forgotten, but ironically, I can still remember the shoes that a few of the girls wore that night.

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas- MissCo School

Science Notes: The Definition of Decay

Decay is part of the life cycle… I believe that’s one of the things Ms. Craig taught us in this building during Science class so long ago… that truth obviously still stands…

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas

Crumbling

As we drove slowly by the High School, that decay was further evidenced when I glanced skyward to see the crumbling chimney…

Mississippi County High School in Arkansas

Whispers from the Halls

And here it is… my last stop before I left my comfortable surroundings to begin my studies at ASU.

As I sit here, I can’t help but laugh at the memory of the computer lab located behind these windows. We felt so advanced with our archaic computer games. I look around the room I’m sitting in now… at this website I’ve built… the Nook held by my daughter… the Droid resting beside me… the iPad my niece is working on… it is indeed awe-inspiring at how far our technology has come in the past 20 years or so.

The steps that led to this hall are gone now. I’m not sure what happened to make concrete steps completely disappear, but the memory of them is still there.

How many quick kisses were stolen on those steps? How many theme assignments about dogs did Mr. Rowlett hand out in that hall to late students? How many drinks were taken from the fountain?

Who knows? Who remembers? You? What are your fondest memories of MissCo School?

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Mom... fine art photographer... Suth'uhn chick... Literacy Specialist... internet mogul... elementary teacher... designer... single lady... marketer... wearer of the red-sequined hoochiemomma shoes... Uhm... being a KayeCee is just a wee bit complicated!

14 Responses

  1. Scott Jones

    Hey Mary that was a very sad but well written review. It just brought back so many memories. Thanks, Scott Jones

    Reply
    • KayeCee

      Thanks Scott… yeah… lot of happy memories when I drive by, but so sad about the state of the buildings now.

      Reply
  2. carla(Donna)Battles Besinger

    Mary I loved your article. Its amazing how missco influenced and shaped so many of our lives in such a profound way. Ad I read your article tears filled my eyes. I could smell the wild onions growing behind the gym in the area we called our track field. The sounds of basketball’s hitting that beautiful gym floor and how we tried to make sure coach Craig didn’t catch us on the floor with our street shoes on after lunch. Awe and the lunches. They were the best. Kudos to your mom, Mrs Farrell and all the great cooks who worked in the cafateria. Thank you for the wonderful walk down memory lane. The bricks may be crumbling and the old school may be decaying, but like myself and many others it will always stand tall. The images and experiences will never decay or die. They remain forever etched in the minds and very being of all w

    Reply
  3. Nicki King

    Hi I just found your article and it made me so sad but I hope that I can bring some joy back to you…. My name is Nicki and I am from England originally. I am 34, married to Matt and we have two small children; Charlie who is three is August and Agatha who just turned 6months. We have goats, chickens, ducks, guineas, turkeys, dogs and cats. On the 15th of July 2013 we bought Missco and all of its buildings. They are sad and unloved and in some cases have been unnecessarily and crudely gutted but we love them and have a vision of restoring them and our dream is to open a bed and breakfast. Our first major project will be the auditorium so perhaps you can return for a reunion… What class year were you?

    It’s going to be a long and costly process but we’re in it for the long haul… We aren’t just fighting time but a previous owner who, for example, we are told ripped the pristine gym hall floor out because he couldn’t be bothered to maintain it 😞.

    Anyway I don know where you are now but please get in touch. We are desperate to hear stories or see pictures or photographs. I have such fond memories of my old school and while this is now our home I understand how important this once beautiful place is to so many. I will start a blog as soon as I can think of a name but I am currently sharing pictures and day to day life on my mommy blog Facebook page Beyond the Boob. Please feel free to take a look and please email me!! I look forward to hearin from you and hopefully sharing some memories and I will give you my number so next time you drop by you can come in….. Rest assured my children will grow up here and we will homeschool so happiness and light will return to these old buildings!

    Much love Nicki King

    Reply
    • KayeCee

      Hi, Nicki!

      Glad you found me and we were able to hook up on Facebook!

      I’m so excited to see that someone is taking MissCo under their wings! I can’t wait to see what you guys do with it! I’ll swing by soon to meet you all in person! Thanks for updating us on your plans! :)

      Reply
    • milli

      I would love to see this as well. I always told my daughters that if missco was still goin…that’s where they would have went. no matter how far I had to drive. I would love to volunteer with some clean up efforts or just whatever needed. would be kind of nice to go back to the area where I grew up. nothing was the same after the school was consolidated.

      Reply
    • David Butler

      Hi Nicki, I too, enjoyed reading the article you have writtrn and posted about Missco High SChool, we spelled it Misco, even the 1951 yearbook has it Misco, but I go back and visit the sight every time I am in the area usually every couple years. It is so sad to see what once was so beautiful now in such a state of decay. So sad. It is most welcome news to hear that you have purchased the property and your plans for it. Even though I left the area maybe 1952.I was there in 1951 and attended elementary school there also. I recall stoking the old coal fired heaters in the grade school building while my dad made the school bus runs. When the gym was being build I would go to the store at West Ridge, buy soft drinks and take them back to the gym and sell them to the workers. Got fond memories and stories from there. Would like to stay in touch with you and maybe I can see some changes before my time here is up. Thanks.
      David Butler

      Reply
      • David Butler

        Sorry but in my post it should have been to Kaye Cee not Nicki, for the article she has written. Enjoyed reading even though it is so sad.
        But it is good to hear that someone has purchased the property and has postitve plans for it. Hope changes begin soon.

  4. Linda Norton Wright

    Cannot tell u how excited I was to see this article this morning. Thank you so much Kaye Cee for sharing with all of us. How exciting to know that it has been bought and will will restored to possible Bed and Breakfast. How cool is that. Cant wait.

    Reply
  5. michelle sheppard

    Wow I love hearing all the wonderful memories. I went to missco until 6th grade when it was consolidated with Manila. Mrs Clark was my first grade teacher. There was two Mrs Anderson. One was the third grade teacher and the other was the principal of elementary. I remember having a dance in the sixth grade and making those big flowers out of tissue paper. I had the best time at missco. I will also be looking for old photos to post

    Reply
  6. Carolyn Bryan Richmond

    Hello Nicki,
    I started to Missco in the first grade in 1962. I had an aunt and uncle (both deceased now) that were in high school when I started and my teacher was Mary Lewis. I went to Missco until I graduated in 1973. During that time both my sisters also went to school there and my mother Norma Jean Coley Bryan Anderson taught there and was the last elementary principal. Alot of our old basketball trophies and the pictures that lined the study hall (auditorium) in the high school buildings are now at Manila. we have a Missco Reunion every year the Friday night and Saturday of Terrapin Derby in Lepanto, it is always the first Saturday in October. There you would be able to find pictures from people even older than I am who graduated there. My mother graduated there in 1954. I would love to tell you about where things were then or the things we did and some pictures. I know the people at the reunion would love to meet you and would really be willing to share any and everything they have. Thanks for buying our old school, it was depressing to me to go by it too. My mother and sister still live just a couple miles from there down a gravel road so would go by there alot, I live in Keiser so still very close to the old school. Thanks Carolyn

    Reply
  7. David Butler

    Reading you comments, I have a couple questions. I remember a Norma Jean Coley, did she attend Misco as a student or just as a teacher? In what years? Also remember a Raymond, a Bobby and a Shirley all from Misco when I was there. I knew a Jerry Richmond, a Belinda who is the dau. of Jerry and Alice Simmons Richmond. Are these folk connected to you?

    Reply
    • KayeCee

      I knew Jerry and Belinda. I think the others are older.

      And I’ve been looking for the correct spelling of Missco. I’ve seen MissCo, Missco, and Misco so far. It’s a derivative of Mississippi County, so I would have thought MissCo was correct. I’d love to see some pictures of older annuals and memorabilia to find out for sure. When I go to the gym, I’ll look more closely at the older graduation collages. That’s where they have them on display if any of you are ever interested in seeing them.

      Reply
  8. Larry Young

    I also went to Missco. I graduated in 1969. Seeing the pictures sure brought back memories. After the school closed, Darrell Jester bought it and used it for his Honey business. He had some bee’s and that is where he processed the Honey. Both my brothers Richard and Dwight (better known as Satch) graduated from there. It was good seeing the pictures.

    Reply

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