Conover Graded School

Conover Graded School (circa 1960s)
Located in the geographic center of Catawba County, on 1st Avenue, South, the Conover Graded School opened its doors on November 13, 1916. With the addition of a spacious auditorium in 1928, the school building quickly became the place for numerous civic events. The first movie shown in Conover was viewed on the second floor. Voting Polls were here. Conover's first firefighting apparatus was housed on the site. Art exhibits, plays, concerts and seasonal carnivals were held here. Here on the grounds where children run and play, contain the resting place for the childless couple who gave the land for the building site. The school served Conover for nearly six decades.

[text and photos courtesy of Don Barker (c) 1992]


Ethel Brown
Meredith College
W. Ferrell Warlick
Catawba College
Fred L. Barkley
Erskine College
Wm. A. Gore, Jr.


Faculty (1929-30)

Front Row [L. to R.]: Mrs. Helen Hemmeter (wife of Rev. H.B. Hemmeter), Mrs. Onnie Smith, Mrs. Charles Bolick, Miss Yount, Mrs. Whitted. Second Row [L. to R.]: Alva Sigmon, Elizabeth Herman, Ferrell Warlick, principal.

Sixth Grade Students (1929-30)

Front Row: Elizabeth Poovey

Second Row [L. to R.]: Franklin Deal, Marshall Rockett, Rachel Deal, Ora Hollar, Betty Shuford, Marjorie Schell, Katherine Simmons, Edith Deal, Elsie Bolick

Third Row [L. to R.]: Roy Wallace, Sammy Isenhower, Lorena Wagner, Theresa Pharr, Pauline Simmons, Vivian Bolick, Elizabeth Schell, Freida Hunsucker, Unknown

Fourth Row [L. to R.]: Alvin Thornburg, Pressley Howard, Clyde Young, Paul Simmons, Alva Sigmon (teacher), Beda Pope, Elsie Setzer, Evelyn Adams

[I would like to express sincere appreciation to Mr. Larry Hoke of Doraville, GA for the faculty and student pictures. His mother, Alva Sigmon Hoke is the teacher pictured in both photos.]

Conover Graded School pupils, including band, mid-1940s


This is the early 1940's Conover Graded School Band. The students were having their photo made prior to marching downtown for the grand opening of the new Canova Theater. On the Front row, L-R are: Hugh Yount, Merida Bell, Bill Clarke, Shirley Moehlmann, Betty Power, Joyce Herman, Fred Isenhower, Charles Parkhurst, Barbara Thayer. Second row L-R are: Jimmy Gilbert, Mary Sigmon, Bob Keller, A. C. Yount, Mabel Brittain, Terry Settlemyer, Dorothy Marlow, Joyce Curlee, Hugo Leim, Kay Cline, Joe Kaylor and Ann Brady, Majorette. Third Row L-R are: Don Gilbert, Betty Saunders, Alice Lou Hefner, Shirley Lail, Patricia Heavner, Mary Catherian Drum, Bernard Smith, unidentified, Charles Simmons and Dickie Cheek. Forth Row L-R are: Donnie Barker, Dot Brady, Janice Brady, Frankie Herman, Sally Drum, Millie Deal, Bobbie Bolick, Betty Brown, Grady Hamrick, Jack Smith, Bobby Spencer and Kenneth Freeman. The teachers are Ms. Green and Ms. Davis.



1945...March or April..Weather pleasant. We were outside at Lunch Break.  Rain starts falling.  Myself and John Barkley are listening to the sound of aircraft engines, so we stay outside, watching. Suddenly, two Republic P-47-D Thunderbolts are buzzing Conover, at very low altitude.  John and I are yelling, and jumping with joy !  Under shelter, John's Dad, Principal Fred L. Barkley, is doing his own yelling, trying to get us inside.  We had none of it..  Boy !!  P-47's !  To those who have never heard the sound of big Radial engines, this description won't be impressive,  but it will make the hair stand up on an airplane enthusiast.  The P-47's made two or three passes...They became difficult to see, in the now downpour..  John and I finally went inside, where we were chewed out by Fred L.  We didn't care..better to be soaked than miss the airplanes.  

Jump to 1958.. I am now working at Hickory Airport, as a Lineman, and Mechanic. One of the guys I came to know at this time, Henry "Hank" Shook, was a Pilot for Eastern Air Lines.  "Hank" would spend some of his off time at the field.  Don't recall how it came up in conversation, but I mentioned the Buzzing incident with the Thunderbolts.... "Hank" speaks up, "That was ME" !!   He had been on the way to one of the Airbases, somewhere, and decided to give Conover a good show.   I say, "Why Conover" ?  " Hank" says, "Because Carl Bowman is my Uncle"...     "Doc" Bowman was the Rexall Drug Store in the Canova Theater building... I spent lots of time in this building..."Doc" was a great guy !!  

To this day, John Barkley and I can Instantly call up getting soaked while watching the P-47's...61 years ago...!                                                                   [With thanks to Walt Griggs]


All photos courtesy of Don Barker

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