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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

2nd Douglass School Book Fair Scheduled: Another Look Down Douglass School's Memory Lane

It came as a total shock to Douglass Alumni and folks in Riverview and South Central Kingsport back in the spring. Our beloved school books had accidently been discovered by UETHRA employees Gail Evans and Charlene Hodge, inside the lockers on the second floor of the school building, placed there 42 years ago by Kingsport City School workers. Back then, they were told to completely clean out the newly closed Douglass High School, and when they came across books, they just could not bring themselves to throw away SCHOOL books. There was a uniquely genuine respect for books of knowledge back then.

42 years later, the find was not as well respected. Before Gail and Charlene found them, our beloved books were destined for the dumpster out back of the building, in anticipation of the V.O. Dobbins Center renovations. Gail and Charlene intervened just in time, and the Douglass Alumni Association was able to rescue the books for their historic value. The find was even a surprise to the city and former teachers in Kingsport's white schools.. for years, their schools had passed down their old books to Douglass.

We have now completed the entire list of names of former Douglass School students, whose historic schoolbooks the Alumni Association has for sale. It took several weeks to complete, but we now know ALL the students who had put their names in their school books. In the event more than one student owned a single book, the book is listed under the other person's name as well. Please forgive any spelling errors to your name or a loved one; I spelled them exactly as I found them in the books.

One problem has now been taken care of, that of putting all the books in alphabetical order for the next sale. As you can see in the pictures, books that have names in them are in alphabetical order (in the case of multiple users), the book is in the box with the most prominent name visible). A carefully organized list shows all the multiple owners, and under which letter a specific book is located. As a book is purchased, the name of the former owner is marked off.

We also have historic Douglass School library books, which are at the bottom with the names of students who checked them out of the school library. The library book is named, then the names of students who checked it out, and in some cases, the fine is listed for an overdue book, LOL. Many of those books come from the Douglass School Library itself; others came from the nearby Carver Library, which was torn down in the Historic Riverview Apartments demolition.

Books that our teachers taught from, are also listed. Those are special books indeed, especially one from Mrs. Cora Cox, that demonstrated her great love for children. Just perusing that particular book, one can just hear Mrs. Cox's gentle voice with words of encouragement that helped you learn the subject material. She proved herself time and time again to be Tennessee's Teacher of the Year, and from this book and others, she demonstrated that. That historic book will not be for sale; it is destined for the Douglass Alumni Display Case in Cora Cox's memory, for generations to view and pay respects to.

As a service to buyers, other books without names in them to be sold to everybody, have also been cataloged as to the type of school book it is. Catagories are Math, English, Social Studies, Health-Science, Vocational how-to books and books classified as Miscellaneous.

The Douglass Alumni Association, whose charge it was, to clean up the books as best as possible (remember.. we're talking at least 42 years of dust after Douglass closed, plus the age of the books to start with), catalog all of them, inventory them all, and set a price. That price was set at the low, low price of $1.00 per book. Because our people don't get too many bargains these days, the low price was agreed on, because the transaction also helps to cement relationships in the community.

The first Historic School Book Fair in August was a huge success. Buyers were waiting outside the V.O. Dobbins Community Center for an hour before the doors opened. In the crowd were former Douglass students, book lovers, folks needing specific learning books, and even teachers who remembered books handed down by their school many years ago. The fair was only open three hours, and everybody left, wondering out loud when the next fair would be.

Every purchase is on a first come, first serve basis, and as a result ONLY THOSE BOOKS THAT HAVE BEEN RESERVED PRIOR TO A BOOK SALE will be set aside, and multiple purchasers will be notified. Please check the list for your name, and if you cannot pick up the book or have someone pick it up for you, email your reservation to: Also, please make arrangements to have the book or books picked up, as we cannot store them for long.

"Way back here, where nobody will look.. I'll sign my name, to close this book."
---John Delaney

THE NEXT HISTORIC DOUGLASS SCHOOL BOOK FAIR WILL BE ON OCTOBER 18, 2008, FROM 1 PM TO 4 PM IN THE V.O. DOBBINS COMMUNITY CENTER ON LOUIS STREET, just prior to the Class of '68 Reunion in Kingsport. Other book fairs are planned. The price is still $1.00 per book, and if a former student or family member wants to donate the book to the Alumni Association, we will display as many of them as we can, in the new Alumni Community Room glass-enclosed case in the renovated V.O. Dobbins Community Center when it is finished.

The final updated list of school books and library books with former Douglass students' names in them are listed in the article below.