Memories of McComas
Ralph M. Shrewsbury
I was born in 1938. My father was Lionel R. Shrewsbury, my mother was Sallie Barlow. We lived in the Pinnacle section. Our house is still standing next to the three big garages. I remember during the summer months in grade school years that the school bus would come pick us up and bring us to the playground, located just below McComas High School. During Christmas vacation, they would place a big Christmas tree in the tennis court and my dad was president of the local union 6036 and he would make a speech. After his speech, they would give a paper bag to everyone with candy, fruit, and nuts inside, using a truck after a while to help speed the process up. I remember Buster Davis delivering coal for the American Coal Company on Tally Hill, using two horses pulling a wagon. Davis also worked for the company as a painter, Lake Bailey was the company carpenter and plumber, Brian Kennett did the wallpapering and painting, and Cut Deep Huffman drove the company coal truck. Paul Martin and Tom Thompson worked in the coal lab.
The are many sections of McComas, including Thornhill, Church Hollow, Red Hollow, Sagamore, Crane Creek, Hoot Owl Hollow, Windmill Gap, Pinnacle, Thomas, Pinnacle Hollow, and Conner Mountain. We used to play intramural basketball between all the sections and I remember Lee Davis was my coach.
The tennis court was located just below the Pinnacle store. It had a clay bottom and we played everything from basketball to horseshoes and marbles and stickball. The ball was made up of newspaper wrapped in friction tape. On Saturdays and Sundays we played football at Thornhill ball field. There was a waterfall near the ball field where we used to drink and cool ourselves off. The Negro burial ground was located across the creek and along the railroad tracks. Also adjacent to the Pinnacle store was a gas station with an outside car lift, which was run by Johnny Martin. Across the tracks, there was a coal laboratory where Tom Thompson and Paul Martin worked.
I remember my mother telling me that Lewis Cameresi was killed in action, as well as Lieutenant Nicola Galati and Flight Officer W. C. Edwards, Jr. Also, Staff Sergeant Jack Benedette was missing in action during the Second World War. I can remember when the Sylverster, Borich, Perkins, and Fuda families all went into the service, 15 men in all.
Thornhill was a place of excitement on Saturday nights then. We used to go down there and play rook cards, horseshoes, turkey shoots, drink beer and moonshine and argue about sports.
Ernie J. Perkins was the heavyweight amateur champion of the time and we used to hitchhike to Bluefield to watch him box. I remember the professional Hosea Chapman coming to box Perkins. Ernie’s brother, W.D. Perkins was also a middleweight fighter. I remember seeing Alex Sibo’s first boxing match, where the first punch of the first round was a knockout.
Some of the nicest people on earth were from McComas. Bob Poore had his television set in his house above the slate dump and sometimes there would be 15 kids in there watching and he wouldn’t turn one away. I used to watch television with Ed Gillenwater and Buster Davis.
I have many more memories, newspaper clippings, and pictures of McComas. This poem I found was written in 1949:
“Til we meet again”
Our time has come for us to say goodbye
To our days at dear McComas High
The days we’ve spent; the hours we’ve dwelled
With our friends we loved so well
The time will come when we will meet again
And we will be of so happy then
So smile and bid your friends adieu
‘Til we meet again
The time will pass. Our school will never fail.
In our hearts, McComas will hail
May our school forever stand
In a free and united land
We’ll miss our friends and all the teachers too
And the pranks we all used to do
The time will pass our school will stand
In our hearts as in our land
May our flag wave always bright and free
O’er the land and over all the sea
So smile and bid your friends farewell
‘Til we meet again
I would like to thank everyone I’ve known in this great town for giving me the most wonderful childhood and memories. I would never have guessed I would have been quality control for aircraft engines and rockets. Even though I didn’t know it then, the teachers did a great job.
If you would like to contact me, my email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
McComas High Class of 1956.
Top Row: Joe Sparks, Terry Whittington, Ralph Shrewsbury
Middle Row: Shelvie Jones, Diana Watkins, June Eanes, Janice Howell, Joyce Wellman, Yolanda Massaroni
First Row: Jerry Shinshock, Elaine Pauley, Macie Stevens, Zona Gail Farrington, Kaye Miller, Lorraine Eanes, Rachel Welch, Frankie Helmadollar.
Ronnie Kennett (not pictured)