Carlos Crump Romero
Life and death of a dream
Shortly after the Second World War, a new eighth-grade school was built in northwest Limestone County. It was in the Big Creek community some five-plus miles from Athens adjoining Buck Island Road (Highway 99) on five acres of land.
It offered, at first, an eighth grade general education and replaced the sixth-grade schools of O’Neal, Shanghai and Cartwright. Soon, a ninth grade was added along with the Cross Key school students.
Most of the people who lived in this area were honest, hardworking farm families. But few were able to provide a good living for their families due to soil fertility, weather patterns and lack of resources. The pain of the Great Depression was still fresh in their minds and they could see a better education would give their children a better life.
Despite some growing pains the new school did well. The community support was tremendous and support for the school instilled in us a sense of pride. We had a good academic record and our composite record in athletics was almost always the best in the county among junior high schools.
The enrollment increased until it was higher than some of the 12th-gradeschools. We parents could see the future should include a senior high school. The reasons were many and made perfect sense.
Somewhere along the way to this goal something went terribly wrong. The cruel winds of regression blew our school away. The top grades were taken away from us until we were in a worse position than before the school was built. Our children in the top grades were bussed long, expensive, dangerous rides to other schools for no good reason.
So, the dream dies. In retrospect I believe Owens Junior High did a good job of education. It did help the students to a better standard of living. It is a tragedy that it was not allowed to do more. All the academic and athletic accomplishments are fading, pleasant memories frozen in time.
To anybody who helped in the demise of Owens and the other fine junior highs in the county I say this – I have no die and go to hell wish for you – I hope you live 100 years and I fervently hope you never have a sound night’s sleep as long as you live.
Epilogue: Of all sad words of tongue and pen the saddest are these … “What might have been.”