Education important to 1934 MHS graduate

Friday, October 10, 2003
Nettie Layton Wilson displays her 1934 Manila High School diploma (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Nettie Layton Wilson said when she came back to Manila four years ago she was coming home to her "roots." She had made her home in Memphis, Tenn., since graduating from Manila High School in 1934 but Manila had always been home.

Wilson was born in Tupelo, Miss., in 1915 but moved to Manila at a very early age. She is the daughter of the late Clyde and J.W. Wilson.

"I started out a Wilson and I am still a Wilson," she said.

In an era when many girls were fortunate to get an elementary education, Wilson not only finished high school, she attended business school in Memphis to prepare for a career.

Wilson graduated from Manila High School in 1934. She still has her black leather bound diploma (without a wrinkle) that she earned almost 70 years ago. The diploma is signed by C.W. Tipton, president of the board, W.L. Thompson, secretary of the board; W.W. Fowler, superintendent, and Coburn Thornton, principal. She graduated on May 24, 1934.

There were four graduates that year, Lucille Curtwright, James Wright, Wilson and Alvin Tipton.

Wilson remembers her years at Manila school. She said she liked school but was anxious to get out and further her education and start work so she could earn money.

Her father died in 1930.

Her mother took a job in Memphis working at the Peabody. As part of her salary, she was provided with a room. Wilson stayed with her grandmother in Manila and attended school in Manila. She lived near the 4-way stop sign on Olympia Street near where the car wash is located today. She also enjoyed spending weekends visiting her mother in Memphis and learned to love the city.

She attended high school in the modern two-story school building that was located on the present Manila campus.

Wilson not only has her diploma, she still has her memory book with pictures of her friends and family, the old school building, signatures and good wishes from friends and teachers.

Wilson has a great memory and remembers her school years, the 4-H field trips, and her growing up years in Manila.

Her teachers at Manila included Mrs. F.E. Harrell, first grade; Mrs. Eva Wren, second grade; Mrs. Mitchell, third grade; Mrs. Mitchell and Miss Virgie Bruner, four grade; Mrs. Ora Mae Judd Walker, fifth grade; Miss Lillian Shaver, sixth grade; Miss Johnny belle Danehauer, seventh and eighth grade; Mrs. H. S. Garnes and Mr. J.M. Cleveland, ninth grade; Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Merryman, tenth grade; Mr. Cleveland and Mr. W.W. Fowler and Mr. Cobourn Thornton, 11th and 12th grade.

In those days, Wilson said the school did not have typewriters or business classes. Like today, representatives from colleges and schools came to visit the campus and tell the young people about their facilities. That is where she heard about the Draughon's Business College in Memphis.

After she graduated she moved to Memphis with her mother and attended business college.

"We didn't have computers. We learned how to type on manual typewriters and other office skills," she said.

Wilson has a copy of her first employment application dated June 24, 1936. She answered all of the questions about her education and skills along with the personal questions such as age, height and weight.

She and her mother remained in Memphis together. Her mother died in 1977 and Wilson brought her back home to Manila to be buried.

Wilson always liked clerical work and retired from GSC in Memphis almost 25 years ago.

Wilson never learned to drive but said in Memphis she could get around using the bus service.

After she fell and broke her hip, she moved to Manila with her cousin, Betty Contrella. The two enjoyed each other's company but soon after Wilson came to Manila her cousin became ill and passed away.

Wilson is very happy to have Diane Northcutt as her caregiver while she is getting back on her feet.

Wilson has fond memories of her school years and belonging to the Herman Davis 4-H Club.

She is quick to point out that education is important then and now and encourages young people to set their goals and work toward it.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: