Monday, March 4, 2013

Blacksburg High School

The old Blacksburg High School on South Main

It was out with the old and in with the new for students at Blacksburg High School about mid-decade when they moved from their long time home on South Main Street to the new, modern facility on Patrick Henry Drive.  The vacated building then became known as Blacksburg Middle School for quite a long stretch until being leveled to make way for new development.

The new high school on Patrick Henry Drive

The new high school was much larger and more modern, and served the community for more than 30 years before a heavy snowfall collapsed the gym roof and closed the school forever.

I'm hoping that a lot of you old BHS Indians who knew both schools will chime in and give us your reflections of the move from old to new in the 1970's.

16 comments:

  1. Dennis, I was one of those of whom you speak, having the honor of attending both schools. Many have forgotten that the "new" BHS opening was delayed due to roof problems as well. The roof collapsed over the library after heavy rains, and a fair number of books and equipment were damaged or lost. It was exciting, though, to be among the first classes to enter the modern facility, and we thought the composite gym floor was the coolest thing we had ever seen. I also recall the pay phone outside the locker rooms that kept ringing in error for people trying to reach the IRS help line. Also, a student (whose identity I will protect), hacked into the state-of-the-art computerized PA system and congratulated Lawrence "Roundy" Heiskell for another great school year, and as I recall it included an obscenity or two. The student was threatened with expulsion from graduation, but I don't think they followed through.
    The "old" BHS remains special in my heart, though. If you look at the door of the far right of the picture you will see what was the band/choir room door. After graduation, I lived directly across Main St. in the front bedroom of Gar Pristou's house, and those were my out of control party days. You never really appreciate a good hangover until you lie in bed in the heat of early September, trying to sleep one off while listening to 7th grade band practice that would have given Chinese water torture a run for it's money. Indians forever...

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    1. Hey Red Dog, it sounds like I wrote this (your reply). I remember all of these things you write about, and I knew Gar and Robin Pristou. I graduated form the new BHS in 75. Mike Brown here: ropebug@aol.com is my email.

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  2. Best reply EVER..... still smiling here, thanks Red Dog

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  3. Best reply EVER..... still smiling here, thanks Red Dog

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  4. I went to both schools the same year when I was in 11th grade. they had the vocational wing open at the new high school while they were finishing the rest of the building. They bussed us over in the morning (students from C'burg, Auburn and Shawsville also attended) and back by lunchtime.
    I took Electronics and Mr. Repass let us smoke in class, pitch pennies in a back room and go to Ray's to get breakfast (as long as we brought him back a cup of coffee). We also shot at old tv picture tubes in the back with a .22 rifle (can you imagine that now?).
    Everything changed my senior year when the rest of the school opened and the old school became the Middle School. We didn't have the freedom we had our Junior year. I did pass notes between Kermit Kanode (Rooster Kanode's (local radio host) son who went to C'burg and Betty Lamb who went to BHS (I had a class with after Electronics. They got married after High School and are still married. I also passed notes between a boy from Auburn ans girl at BHS, but they didn't marry so I won't list their names.
    I do remember "Smoking Blocks" at both schools (what were they thinking?) and spending much time at those. Also, before school at the school on Main street we would go to the Blue Grass Market and get candy and cigs. After school we would go to the Hardee's. I remember going to Hardee's every Sunday with Reddog while we watched football at Gar's house.

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  5. Brian, I think I remember you. Definitely remember Gar. Did you hang out at University Billiards when I worked there?

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  6. Yes. Hung out with Gar Hutch and Reddog. You may have kicked us out a couple of times (or maybe Bruce did).

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  7. Dennis, I might also add that I wore a Schlitz shirt a lot.

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  8. Brian, I was remembering that awesome Schlitz shirt the other day Didn't you have a yearbook photo taken in that? I also remember hanging out in the smoking area of the "new" BHS and Glenda (Wesley) Reece was wearing her "Yes" t-shirt, as she often did. Tom Thumb approached her, that impish grin of his on full display, and shouted "NO"! Funny the stuff you remember. Every time I hear "Mood for a Day", (which is not nearly often enough), I think of that morning. Dennis, I can totally relate to your statement "forever 20 inside my head". Or, to paraphrase Gar, I'm not 55, I'm 18 with 37 years of experience!

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  9. Hat's off to Gar, I like that latter statement ... I may have to borrow it. I tried to find Tom Thumb a year or so ago when we were having a Fooz reunion. I had tracked him to California, but had no luck locating him.

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  10. The "new" high school's roof over their gym (I think) caved in from snow (I think)! There's a new high school now off Prices Fork Road. They opened their doors this school year (2013).

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  11. I think the gym collapsed just due to structural problems. There had been minor cracks and holes all throughout for a while. It happened my freshman year so those were just some of the things i heard. I'm sure the snow didn't help though.

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  12. Dennis! Your blogspot is fun! Thanks for the opportunities for so many memories. I was an 8th grader at the old school. It was huge, and all the other people in it were big and scary. I had a smoker friend (Shockley), and I partook a little, and hanging out behind the school in the smoking area was also scary but exciting. It was a motley crew out there. Next year I was a 9th grader in the new school, once again the youngest class, but it wasn't as scary by then. I recognize a lot of the folks referred to here, and haven't thought of them for so long. Very cool. I'll drop in again.

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  13. Loved the pictures and the memories!!

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  14. I inherited the "Stage Crew Manager" position from John Couch as a sophomore (c.1972) at the old high school on South Main St. Back then we all had "handles," I used Professor Zero, a name I stoled from Zero Linkous who was years older than me and long graduated (I think). With others, we worked all of the stage lighting for anything that went on that old wooden stage: plays, choir, band, pep-rallies, ceremonies, you name it. We had an old Hubbell light panel that was the size of a Ryder truck, but it worked, kinda. There are several stories of one of the three light bars falling from the ceiling that would've killed many folks but for the grace of God. I remember dropping a bolt or two on the stage during choir practice just to get everyone off the stage...choir sucked. Chief advantage to being Stage Manager was having the keys to the whole school and finding every possible nick and cranny in which to crawl. Asbestos and lead was everywhere, no wonder my lungs are screwed up today, well that and 9/11 in NYC and 38 years as a firefighter/rescuer.

    In 1974 the "new" high school opened and I was a senior; the new school was magnificent and we all felt privileged. Our new stage was state-of-the-art (for the time) with a modern multiphase light board positioned above the balcony. We had an elevator that ran from the hallway downstairs four flights up to the technical lighting room. Sometimes we would open the doors in the downstairs area and lay down in between the massive springs that held the elevator. An ally would "drive" the elevator down and we would hang onto the undercarriage of the elevator and ride underneath the car to the top, and then back down to the springs...unbelievably hazardous!!! We rode on top of the elevator in the inspector mode too. So many stories I could tell, but I won't, well a couple: Roundy was our principal and I really liked him as he would get me out of classes all of the time to tend to the stage, yes I had the number to the all call telephone and intercom system, I did most of the morning announcements, and yes that number got out (as someone previously stated) and someone (who shall remain anonymous, NOT ME!) dialed up and m-----f--k%#d Roundy and almost everyone else on our last day at school. Finally, I do remember escorting the chief architect/engineer of the building around for some post construction inspections, I forget his name. He also built Christiansburg High School. He instructed me in how fallible a flat roofed building was and he didn't expect it to stand very long; too many water leaks, ice dams, light truss roof construction...all attributed to low bid fiscal policy at the time. The building started collapsing almost immediately and continued throughout it's life span.

    That was fun, I'll visit again. Sure would be glad to see any of my old friends, I live in Floyd now, email me at ropebug@aol.com. Mike Brown

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  15. I knew both schools. The Main Street as my middle school and the Patrick Henry as my high school until I graduated in the mid 90s. Thanks so much for this blog.

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