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Picturing the Past 30: Old Wartrace gymPosted Tuesday, October 13, 2009, at 7:33 AM
The old Wartrace gym in late 1971. (T-G file photo)
Those were the days when James Cotham coached Bell Buckle and Hal Skelton led Wartrace. Unfortunately, you can't really see who the players are.
It was a real experience viewing a game in the Wartrace High gym, which still exists next to the old Wartrace School. This gym likely looked for many years earlier as it does here.
The old-style wood-frame gym was sort of like being in a barn, at least to me. Lights were somewhat dim and the fans sat in bleachers inset under a lowered wooden "ceiling," as clearly seen in the photo.
Consolidation was inevitable, but after Bell Buckle School burned around 1973 its students had to be moved to Wartrace. The combined school became known as Cascade while still in the Wartrace building, before the current high school building (then housing K-12) was completed in 1976.
Trivia question: What were the teams' nicknames? Also of note is that Wartrace High had a football program until the mid-to-late 1950s, according to T-G records. It's obvious that the field used for the Wartrace Horse Show was once a football field.
Several smaller schools had "elementary school" basketball programs (actually, roughly grades 5-8) as late as the mid-1970s. Flat Creek, Pleasant Grove and Wheel were around until Liberty School was built, and I covered games there for the T-G in their last year or so. Normandy had a school as well, but it seems like it may have been closed several years earlier.
I remember Pleasant Grove in particular as having a small set of bleachers and little room for fans.
All of those schools have been converted to private residences, with the Wheel school used as a tire store for many years.
Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader photo contributions are welcome.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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