Ding Dong School

“I was always trying to think of some way to pick up money and not have to leave home. Since I had done mimeographing on the side at the Chamber of Commerce I found an old mimeograph machine at Fisher’s [Stationery and Office Supply] one day and paid $50 for it and started doing some of that at home. That wasn’t too satisfactory because the ink on the machine was so messy, and I didn’t like having people coming to the house to bring me work, but I did make a little money that way.

“In the summer of 1955 a fellow named Dan Farrell, head of Taylor Chemical Company of Aberdeen, North Carolina, was referred to me by the Chamber of Commerce to mimeograph some letters. They had set up an office at the Holiday Inn to sell cotton poison that summer. Then Farrell asked me if I would come out there and help them out. Since Georgia was here I told him I would help for a few days, which stretched into three or four weeks. He and the other men with the company were so nice, and I made enough money for us to buy our first black and white television set.

Russell and Cathy with the first TV on the right.

The cable company was just being organized and the reception we got on the cable was almost nothing but snow, but we watched it anyway, and the children spent hours watching Pinkie Lee and Howdy Doody and Miss Frances and the Ding Dong School.”

Miss Frances and the Ding Dong School

Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody

Pinkie Lee

Two indelible childhood memories: The smell of fresh mimeograph ink (Remember those study sheets that your teacher would carry in, still warm from the machine? That’s the smell) and curling up in Russell’s rocking chair early in the morning to watch TV. Miss Frances and the Ding Dong School stick in my mind; Howdy Doody and Pinkie Lee left no impression, other than what I’ve seen in old books. That chair took us through many a Saturday morning, with Roy Rogers and Sky King and Hopalong Cassidy and Huckleberry Hound and Rocky and Bullwinkle. When I left for college, we were still living in a black and white world, which I found humiliating. The Beamans had one of the first color TVs, and on occasion they would invite us down on Sunday evening to watch “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and “Bonanza.” I was enthralled. Rumor had it that Lucille Ball’s hair was red and the brick road in the “Wizard of Oz” really was yellow and Mr. Green Jeans’ jeans were truly green, but how was I to know? I had unreasonable parents who, in some twisted logic, thought it more important to save for my education than to provide me with a technicolor childhood.

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About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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3 Responses to Ding Dong School

  1. satsynana says:

    I love your site! What a precious tribute to Sara! I grew up friends with Nan & Martha Claire Gwin on East Adams until my parents renovated a home on West Jefferson then built on Robert E Lee Drive, they were Martha and Earle Fisher of Fisher Stationery and Office Supply Companyt, Open Hearth Book Store and Fisher Gifts. We are searching for photos of the storefronts of all three of these with their signs showing to no avail. Please let me know if you have discovered any in Sarah’s memrobilia. Thanks ever so much!! Most grateful for the memories, Patsy Fisher Smith

    • sec040121 says:

      Patsy, thanks for your thoughts. I was just thinking today about going in Fisher’s to buy school supplies and Hardy Boys books; it was just the most wonderful store! I have not seen any pictures of the stores with Fisher’s signage, but Allan or Donny may have something. Hope you continue to enjoy the blog; more to come!

    • sec040121 says:

      Patsy, I have run across one picture with Fisher’s Stationery sign visible. I’ll be glad to email it to you, if you like.

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