Second in a series (photos on website):http://seguingazette.com/news/article_2 ... 3ce6c.html
Local woman recalls days at Dowdy School
Jessica Limmer | Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:00 am
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles leading up to a tour of eastern Guadalupe County.
Though Seguin was miles away, Geri Bulgerin said there was always something happening around the Dowdy School.
“The school was the hub of all the social activity in the area,” recalled Bulgerin, who was known in high school as Geri Arnett. “We would have wonderful plays and the oil field workers and their families would come. There was always something going on.”
These days, all that remains of Dowdy School is a foundation, some stairs and other remnants of a once vibrant campus, but the school is rich with history and guides such as Bulgerin are eager to share their stories.
The school is one of the spots on the upcoming tour of the historic spots in eastern Guadalupe County set for April 21. Participants are invited to check-in at 8:30 a.m. at Seguin’s Oak Park Mall, 1221 E. Kingsbury St. Tickets are $49 and include a guided bus tour and lunch at the Belmont Social Club.
According to research gathered by 1946 Dowdy School graduate Paul Knodel, the Dowdy School was created in 1916 with the consolidation of the Walters School and Nixon School. The name Dowdy came from a family who donated land to the district. With the oil boom, which began in the early ‘30s, the school population began to boom, leading to rapid expansions.
Bulgerin, who is helping with the tours, said the school was made up of a building which housed a dorm or “teachery” for teachers with attached classrooms for younger students.
“My favorite teacher was Miss Ellen Ranft,” she said. “She was a sweet, wonderful lady.”
The high school and intermediate school buildings were attached by a breezeway. Bulgerin said she also spent numerous hours in the library and study hall — reading through the school’s book collections — and in the home economics wing learning to make eggs Benedict.
“We had a gymnasium that was state-of-the-art,” she recalled. “It was always being decorated for Christmas or prom. There were girls locker rooms that kind of went below the stage area and we would make a spook house for the younger kids at Halloween.”
Bulgerin said her father, Claud Arnett, came to Seguin with Texaco and she was born and raised in the oil field houses on the Texaco lease.
“They kept the houses so beautifully and we had a nice large fenced yard,” she said. “They really took good care of their employees.”
Bulgerin and her siblings spent their days off of school walking through the countryside with their neighbors and playing that they were Tarzan or Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
However, growing up among the oil derricks did come with a few added dangers, she recalled.
“Mother would always tell us not to play in the slush pits, and we never did,” she said. “She would tell us if we went in there would never come out again.”
Bulgerin said she graduated the Dowdy School at the age of 16, as skipping fifth grade had made her one of the youngest in her class. However, without a car or way to get to work, she hung around school for another semester, just to help out.
“No one wanted to hire a 16-year-old kid who didn’t have a way to get to work,” she said. “So I caught the bus every morning and went into school and would help out the teachers.”
After a semester, she went away to Austin to attend business college, married and — after living elsewhere in the state — eventually returned with her family to Seguin.
As for Dowdy School, the campus population began to dwindle as the oil boom ended and more people began to move into town.
According to Knodel’s research, to boost attendance, Dowdy began offering transportation to students in the Jahns, Moss, Eden and Tiemann school districts if they transferred to Dowdy for high school. However, by the 1949, 1950 school year, these areas were annexed by Seguin ISD.
The following year, the Dowdy School area was annexed Seguin’s district and the campus was closed at the end of the school year in 1951.
Though little remains of the Dowdy School, Bulgerin said she and other alumni will never forget the good times they had together as classmates.
“Every summer we were excited for school to start again,” she said. “We had so much fun there.”
For more information on the tours, call Jesse Roy Hart at 830-303-2402 or for tickets, contact Stanley Dolle at firstname.lastname@example.org
or send self-addressed stamped envelope to 185 Dolle Farm Rd., Seguin, TX 78155.