published Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Brainerd Junior remembered

Former students recall Von Trapps, Etter and fire

Only a few years after the Von Trapp family made its fabled trip over the Alps and into Switzerland as portrayed in the movie “The Sound of Music,” the family entertained students at Brainerd Junior High School.

Lou Maynard of Signal Mountain, who graduated from the school in 1946, recalled watching as a ninth-grader the captain, his wife and their children performing in traditional Bavarian clothing.

“They all stood around the piano and sang,” she said.

The school, which became 21st Century Academy in 1994 and served students in grades K-12, closed its doors earlier this month. Its final graduating class had 24 students.

Dr. Robert Myers of Ringgold, Ga., said when he graduated in 1939, the school still seemed new. It had opened eight years earlier in 1931.

“It was beginning to be an area of town that was desirable,” he said.

The school had an active sports program, including a basketball team coached by E.B. “Red” Etter, who would go on to prowess as a high school football coach, Dr. Myers said.

A few years later when Mrs. Maynard attended, as men returned to the work force after World War II, teacher Buddy Guedron — later principal of the school — was pressed into service to teach both boys’ and girls’ physical education classes, she said.

Not familiar with basketball rules for girls, which then called for a half-court game and players to dribble only twice apiece, he allowed a full-court game.

“We thought it was wonderful — a big deal,” Mrs. Maynard said. “We got to play the boys’ rules.”

Charles Cooke of Chattanooga graduated from the school in 1973, the year a March fire forced Brainerd Junior students to share space with its arch-rival Dalewood Junior students for the rest of the school year.

Dalewood students went from 7:30 to 12:33 and Brainerd Junior students from 12:55 to 5:58 p.m., according to a Chattanooga Times article.

“We had to almost fight Dalewood students every day just for being at their school,” said Mr. Cooke, who later became a deputy police chief for the Chattanooga Police Department. “What a lot of fun.”

Both Dr. Myers and Mrs. Maynard attended the school with people they would later marry, they said.

Dr. Myers said his wife, Libby, recalls his locker being two down from hers but, at two years older, he paid little attention to her. They later met after their respective spouses died and have been married for 25 years.

Mrs. Maynard said she and her husband, John, “didn’t care about each other at the time.”

Overall, she said, “I felt like we got such a good education. We had good teachers and good opportunities for music and other things.”

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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