LIFE CHANGED AT LATON HIGH SCHOOL DURING WWII by Vernon Hennesay
The total student body was 125 students. We played six-man football then and there were only two substitutes. With a team like that, every player got a lot of playing time and each player played at least two different positions. Instead of going only ten yards for a first down we had to go fifteen. There was no such thing as a penalty for face mask because the helmets didn't have a face mask.
World War II was going on so gasoline was rationed, which meant school buses could not be used for away games. We used private cars to take players to away games which meant our team had no rooting section except the players on the sideline.
As I mentioned, gas was rationed. Stamps were issued to use for purchasing gas. There were A, B, T and R stamps that I remember but there may have been others. Anyone owning a car was issued “A” stamps and the number of stamps issued were based upon the amount of traveling one did on business. Farmers who owned tractors could get all the “R” stamps they wanted because farming was considered essential to the war effort. The “R” stamps were supposed to be used for tractors or other farm equipment only, not for passenger vehicles.
In order to get enough gas to take players to away games in our cars we had to use “R” stamps. Players whose father's were farmers would bring “R” stamps to school. We would load the players in our private cars and drive to a certain gas station in town and the owner would fill our gas tanks using “R” stamps. Not exactly legal but otherwise we would not have been able to go to away games.
The same situation existed with the basketball team as the football team. We only had two substitutes. The rules were quite different also. There was no such thing as a three-point shot. Any basket made from any place on the court counted only two points. If two players tied the ball up, they didn't look to the score keeper to see who's procession it was. They jumped for the ball at the spot where the ball was tied up.
At that time everyone was planting a “Victory Garden” at home to help the war effort so Mr. Maynard decided the Ag class should plant a “Victory Garden” at school. The class was divided in to teams of two people each. The garden plot was on the east side of what was then the football field. Each team selected a small plot and planted what ever they wished. A couple of times a week, instead of having class in the classroom we spent the hour in the garden. Of course there was always a little bantering going on as to who had the best garden. Some of the vegetables grown in the gardens were used in the school cafeteria.
CLASSES SWITCH PLACES
During my senior year the boys in the Ag class switched with the girls in the Home Economics class. The guys learned how to sew on buttons, set a table properly, prepare certain dishes ( I don't remember what dishes we did) and how to read a recipe.
The girls learned how to plant certain vegetables in a garden, what kind of flowers to plant and how to use small hand tools to make minor repairs around the house.
SCRAP IRON COLLECTION
To help the war effort the Government would pay for scrap iron. The school officials decided the school should do its part so they decided each class should collect as much scrap iron as they could. The class that gathered the most scrap iron would get a reward.
Each class had a separate pile so we could tell who had the most. At the end of the school year I don't think there was piece of scrap iron left in Kings County. In those piles were car bodies, old tractors, broken plows, and things I never knew existed. Four big piles of junk filled up the parking lot where the buses loaded the students so the buses had to load one at a time.
I don't remember which class won the contest or what the reward was but it was fun.
I graduated in 1945 but because of WWII there are no yearbooks for 1944 or 1945.