Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend - Former RBHS Building

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As I visited the former Red Bank High School campus, a lump in my throat began to build. Many students including my family attended this precious school building. 

I began my tour of the building. The empty and silent hallways still ring with haunting memories of many students rushing to class. The sounds of opening and closing of the lockers. The sounds of students getting ready for another day of classes and teachers starting their lessons.

As I walked into one of the two gyms, I stood in the middle of the basketball court. I closed my eyes and I could picture what it was like in the 1940's. My Uncle Gene played basketball for RBHS in those days. The gym was new and the crowd was cheering for the Lions on to victory. One game, my Uncle Gene went after a ball that was headed out of bounds. He landed in my Aunt Dru's lap. He said it was love at first sight. They married after they graduation day in 1946. My Uncle Gene went off to serve in the Navy in WWII. 

The gym sits vacant with a ongoing pile of rubble and trash in the middle of the court. The stands are silent now and empty. The only sounds are workers in the distant. It hurts to see yet another one of my pieces of my childhood become rubble. I attended the for Red Bank Elementary School on Dayton Boulevard. The New Bi-Lo now sits in its place.

I slowly make my way down the hall. The wonderful memories I have of this old building. One of my favorite school teachers just past away. His classroom was in this hallway. He made school so exciting for me. I stopped at what used to be his classroom and thanked him for what he meant to me.

The tour kept me wandering down the hall into the area that held the senior English department. At one time, it was the old auditorium and stage. The floor creaked under one's footsteps. I closed my eyes and could still hear Mrs. Lyons teach her senior English class. This section of the build was called the gateway. It connected the older section to the then newer section. The floor went from wood to concrete.

This section held math classes, the guidance office and Mrs. Robinson's classroom. Her room was always neat with all the newspaper clippings of the sports articles about Red Bank. I attended a lot of those events.This section of the school was somewhat rebuilt from a fire back in the 1940's. If one looked up, most of the roof was the greenhouse roof. It added lighting and a cool effect on sunny days. 

The lump in my throat grows much larger as I get closer to the former choir room. That room held a very special place in my heart. My Aunt Dru was in the first beauty shop quartet in the choir. She had a beautiful alto voice. I too was a proud member of the concert choir. I learned so much about music from Mr. Mike Lees and the late Susan Davis. I found it difficult to hold back the tears because my aunt nor Susan is still with us.

My tour heads down the hallway. I stop in the auditorium's balcony. I sit down in one of the seats. As I sit in the dark, wonderful memories flow back. The pep rallies that we rocked that place on Friday afternoons. Theme to "Rocky," Red Bank's fight song and the cheerleaders building the excitement up. Over 1,000 students screaming at the top of their voices caused the windows to shake at times. The pep rallies were not the only form of entertainment. We held musicals, music concerts and held Senior Day Shows in there.

I make my way down to the first floor. I come to what use to  be the band room. I could still hear Mr. Charlie Bell and Mr. Adams running the band through their paces. This hallway was the home of the typing and business classes, the band room and the art room. The art room was huge with a garage door at one end. Mrs. Eleanore Lewis was a special teacher to me as well. I love to draw and she taught me how to work at it and make it special.

The tour takes me to what was then the cafeteria. This was where we held most of the dances. Every morning ,I would meet my friends to catch up with them. We would eat outside in the "Courtyard" on pretty days. My senior year, we had a beach party during down times to boast the morale of the student body.

The last of my farewell tour takes me out to the football field. It was named Rankin Field for the former Hamilton County Super. Rankin. The football games there were ones for the history books. The come from behind game against Rhea County. The endless battles against Arch Rival Hixson and in the late 1970's State Championship against Gallitin. Red Bank lost that high fought battle. 

The one building was the last one. The Hutch Lewis Gym.It was named for the women's basketball coach Hutch Lewis in 1981.  He had a very successful career at Red Bank. In the late 1970's Coach Lewis and the Lionettes upset Bradley County's 90 game winning streak. My sister Alyse played for Coach Lewis and Coach Susan Thurman.

Some say that it is just a worn down building. It is just brick, concrete and glass. The building cannot have feelings or talk to you but the ones who called her their high school, it was a special place. There are several time capsules buried on that campus that go back to the 1950's. There is a salute to those who were RBHS students who went off to war and some did not make it home.

The building has a very special signature. It is a brick sculpture of a man and woman. The future of such a wonderful tribute is in doubt. Rumors of people saving it are bouncing around. 

My senior year (1982) was the last year for the High School at that location. The middle and High School swap locations. My class will forever be known to be the Last Class.1939-1982 Red Bank High School was on Dayton Boulevard.

Thank you, old RBHS campus, for being a huge part of my family's history. My dad, uncle, aunt, sister, brother and I proudly state that we are RBHS grads.You will sadly be missed. You were a huge part of the community of Red Bank's regional history. Goodbye, old friend.

Class of 1982 Graduate,
Laura Crane

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