Thursday, April 25, 2024

'This school is a part of me’ | Cresson Fall Festival to preserve historic school

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CRESSON — How can we better the future if we don't have knowledge of the past?

Knowing history is vital in order for growth to take place, especially in a community. It’s imperative that residents discover and honor their town’s past so they can develop a unique connection with the place they call home.

Community members can honor a town’s past by preserving historical buildings, therefore keeping the town’s history alive for generations to come — and that’s exactly what Cresson residents are doing.

CRESSON FALL FESTIVAL

For more than 15 years, the annual Cresson Fall Festival has been acting as a fundraiser for the Historic Cresson School — and this year is no different.

The Cresson Fall Festival will be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Historic Cresson School, 9304 Pittsburg St.

The event will include a bake sale, cake walk, face painting and a craft area for children, a silent and live auction, live music and a barbecue lunch from Dunky Dew’s food truck of Cresson.

Silent auction items include gift baskets and large donation items of dirt, cow and horse feed, concrete and metal products from Henson Metal.

For the live auction, donations of big-ticket items are needed.

The Cresson Volunteer Fire Department will bring a fire truck and a helicopter for the children.

“The Fall Festival is to raise funds to keep the Cresson school building going and operational as well as to make much-needed repairs to the building structure, take care of things in the attic and buy supplies so that we can keep this functioning as a unit,” said Linda Chisholm, auction chair.

HISTORY AND VERSATILITY

According to cressontx.org, the Cresson School was first established in 1885, and began its school programs in a one-room schoolhouse. It was torn down in 1890 to make room for a frame structure that was used until 1918.

A new school opened in October 1931, complete with an auditorium and four large classrooms. The central parapet on the main façade was designed to resemble the curved parapet of the Alamo in San Antonio. Fundraisers held during subsequent years added a kitchen and indoor restroom facilities.

After Cresson consolidated with Granbury schools in 1967, the school building sat abandoned. Today, the school continues to serve several different functions. The primary purpose of the building is that it houses the museum, which features many historical items and facts from the early days of the school.

Monthly luncheons are held in the building for seniors in the community or those who may not have access to a hot meal.

Community events are also held at the Cresson School throughout the year.

“We might have a 50s dance or some other things just to bring the small 1,400 population community together or those in the outlying areas,” Chisholm said.

The building serves as a designated national shelter for use in times of disasters, and it can also be rented out for a party or a family reunion for a small fee of $100.

“If you think about all those functions that we serve, that's a lot of different things that we're doing. Driving by, people think it's just an old building sitting here empty, but we've got so much in here to offer,” Chisholm said. “It's got a lot of history, but it also serves a lot of purposes, which takes money, and so to get the money, we host the Fall Festival.”

PASSION FOR CRESSON’S HISTORY

The main reason Chisholm decided to help with the Cresson School is because of her mother, Alice Karr, who served on the Military Officers Association of America Board of Directors. She passed away in 2020.

“This was something that my mother enjoyed doing, because she was a history major, and she believed in the firm foundation of history,” Chisholm said. “Because of her age, she saw the end of the Depression, she saw the world wars, she saw the things that can happen if we don't protect our history. She used to say, ‘No matter where you stand politically, you have to look back at history to either not repeat it, or to repeat the good stuff.’ Her fear was that local history would start going away. I thought this is something to honor her to continue to help with the school that she enjoyed, but it's also something to give back to the community.”

Pam Cash, who attended the Cresson School in the early 1960s, enjoys walking around the school and reminiscing about her time as a young student.

“There was four of us who graduated in the sixth grade. I remember walking across the auditorium stage. It was so big to me,” she said.

Cash’s father served as the “iceman,” and would deliver block ice around town during the early 1950s. Her family donated the ice box to the Cresson School museum.

“I know they don’t do it now, and I regret that, but we all would open every morning with a prayer and a Bible verse at school,” Cash said. “My mother was born in 1918 and she told me that at one point in time, school stopped at the 11th grade, and then sometime later on in years, they added the 12th, so that applied to this school too.”

She said she remembers each grade level only having four students, and that three grade levels were each taught at the same time by one teacher.

“I think in the room, they had, like, sections, because there were three grades,” she said. “I remember her going from one part of the room to the next, teaching us separately.”

Rick Fidler attended the Cresson School from 1956 to 1960, and what he remembers the best, he said, is the Andrews family.

“Leta Andrews, her mother-in-law and father-in-law, were teaching here when I went to school here,” he said. “Mrs. Andrews taught first, second and third grade, while Mr. Andrews taught fourth, fifth and sixth grade. One time Mrs. Andrews’ son, David, who is Leta Mae's husband, was going to be in a plane and said ‘I'll pass over at a certain time.’ We all went out, and when we saw him way in the distance, he gave us the wave — that was something. They were just great people, the Andrews were.”

Fidler remembers the “huge playground,” and how indoor plumbing was installed when he was in the sixth grade.

“We had a boys’ outhouse down in one corner of the property and the girls’ was on the back fence. It was fairly well separated by several yards,’ he said.

KEEPING HISTORY ALIVE

Cash, Chisholm and other members of the Cresson School Board of Directors continue to work hard to keep the Historic Cresson School alive and functioning.

Cash added, “This school is a part of me and until I die, it will be a part of me.”

To donate to the Historic Cresson School or for more information regarding the Cresson Fall Festival, email Chisholm at txcounselor1@hotmail.com.