I CAN REMEMBER exactly where the portrait hung.
I’m talking about the large oil painting of John Garrett Whiteside, the man for whom our town’s ‘oldest’ high school gymnasium was named: Whiteside Hall.
He is still probably the most famous man ever to come from Nashville even if you never heard of him.
The portrait hung to the right of the old stage. It was placed high on the wall in the space between the stage and the exit door (which I never once saw used, anyway).
According to the Howard County Heritage Club book, the portrait ended up in the museum. But, of course, the museum has been closed for years. I’ll try to find out if the painting is really there, but I have always heard that it just disappeared.
The old gym is now used by the Nashville Parks and Recreation Department for youth basketball, and I’m glad it hasn’t just been abandoned.
John Garrett Whiteside went to Washington, DC, in 1907, and he served as secretary to various congressmen, senators and for agency committees for 40 years. This was in an age when there were only 96 senators, and he was frequently called “the 97th senator” because of his influence.
According to “The Encyclopedia of Arkansas,” the congressman who was in charge of writing the declaration of war for WWI buttonholed Whiteside because he could type as a result of his previous experience as a Arkansas court reporter. The congressman dictated the declaration, and Whiteside typed it and hand-delivered it to President Woodrow Wilson for his signature.
And when our nation entered WWII, Whiteside again typed the declaration of war and delivered it to the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signature.
He had a connection to other significant documents, including typing our nation’s ratification of the United Nations charter in 1945.
He died in 1947. I do not know where he is buried, but I’d like know if any of you have this information. He was married to a Prescott girl, maiden name Biggs. I once spoke to his nephew who was a Little Rock lawyer. He didn’t remember a lot about his famous uncle, but had always heard about him.
Whiteside Hall was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
By the way, that old gym stage also served as the band hall until a separate cinder block building was finally built for the musicians. The rock group, Styx, once played a concert on that gym stage. They autographed a paddle which they found while rummaging through a PE teacher’s desk which was in an offstage office. Just like Mr. Whiteside’s portrait, the Styx paddle has disappeared.
I do not know the statute of limitations for rummaging through a teacher’s desk.
VOLUNTEERS KEEP the wheels turning in every community. I see that Billy Hardin, Joe Dallas and Chris Sweat are new volunteers on the board of the Howard County Cattlemen’s Association, and Chris will serve as president. Jim Hood is secretary/treasurer for the cattlemen for the eleventy-third time. He’s served in that capacity since the invention of Herefords.
I recently tried to convey my admiration to the volunteers at the annual 4-H Foundation Super Bowl smoked meat sale, but the food kept getting in the way.
It’s a good thing to take note of the people who keep wheels turning in our community. From baseball/softball moms and dads, Scout leaders, school boards, Band Boosters, the Pink Ladies at the hospital, just to name a few. Great volunteers are everywhere you look.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. On a rare clear afternoon with moderate temperatures, last week, I sat out on my patio and worked on my tan.
Incredibly thick clouds of blackbirds flew overhead. The birds made no noise other than the whoosh generated by thousands of flapping wings. There were so many birds I wondered how people can estimate their number. Anybody got an idea?
WHICH ROLE TO PLAY? An outfit from Virginia — The American Shakespeare Center — will put on two performances at Historic Washington State Park. The two-and-one-half-hour performances will be on Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 1, beginning at 7:30 each night.
On the first night the troupe will perform “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and they will do “Othello” on the second night.
There’s a problem. One actress will unfortunately not make the trip from Virginia, and so the group needs someone to play Desdemona, Othello’s wife.
Someone has suggested that Mrs. Claus might be persuaded to take the role since she is such a ham anyway.
HE SAID: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare, playwright
Ever been to Old Washington, Bill?
SHE SAID: “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.” Anne Morrow Lindburgh, author and aviator
SWEET DREAMS, Baby