About the Schools
Memories from school
Blast from the past
HEARST AND BATES:
The country was in the middle of the Vietnam war and war protests
were escalating to massive levels around the country. Just a few
weeks before I started kindergarten in 1969, Woodstock
happened (8/15-17/1969). And just a few weeks before that was the
first moon landing (7/20/1969). Haight Ashbury was rocking out in
San Francisco. The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful
Dead, CSNY, the Stones and the Beach Boys were the sound track of
the time. It was a time of huge change for the country. Out went
the old stuffy formal way; in came the rebellion for change. While
segregation had been illegalized in 1965, the practice, whether
or not by choice, was still in force. I only saw one African American
during elementary school, and that was only during one year. There
may have been others, but they kept low. Oklahoma had a history
of strong Jim Crow laws, lynching and race riots. Remember, Tulsa
was home to the one of the bloodiest attacks on Americans by Americans
-- the Tulsa
Race Riots of 1921. It was so awful that It didn't appear
in print until the 70s and people didn't start to talk about it
until just recently. Oklahoma was and still is a very conservative
state. It lies in the buckle of the Bible Belt, so it was not surprising
that we had prayer in school. Yes, this was the heart of conservative,
christian, white bread and mayo, tupperware-toting America.
Phoebe Hearst was the wife of millionaire U.S. Sen. George Hearst
and mother of William Randolph Hearst, who began the Hearst newspaper
empire and built Hearst Castle at San Simeon. She was concerned
with the education of children and started the nation's first kindergartens.
She also founded the PTA.
elementary school was a collection of white wooden prefab buildings
located in the Regency Park neighborhood East of 51st and Memorial.
I don't know when the school opened, but I know it was open in 1966
because my sister went there before me. The school closed 1973.
The grades k-5 continued their education in the fall of 1973 at
their new school, Bates Elementary. The prefabs were torn down and
the land stayed unused for many years. For a while the land was
used as a soccer field. Eventually the land was developed and lanscaped
into Aaronson Park [view arial photo].
According to my mother's memory, John Bates was a boy who had died
in a car accident. Shortly thereafter, his mother purchased a parcel
of land which she then donated to the Tulsa Public Schools with
the stipulation that a school would be erected on the land in the
child's name. John Bates Elementary opened in the Fall of 1973 and
was located at 4821 S 72nd E Ave., between the Villa Fontana and
Park Plaza neighborhoods [view map].
On our first Arbor Day there, our class went outside and planted
a tree just outside the SW part of the school (between the sidewalk
and the building), in the name of John Bates, the person. The tree
is still there.
Hearst, Bates was a modern open-space school. There were a few rooms
with walls (the music room on the north end, the gym, the band room,
the cafeteria, and on the South end a science room and a small math
room that looked out onto the playground). The major center part
of the building, however was open-spaced, with only bookshelves
and partitions to divide class spaces. For an attention-deficient
person as myself, it was hard to concentrate on a boring reading
assignment, when you could hear Mrs. Mathieson whistling or you
could see someone in another class get into trouble.
bathrooms smelled like dial soap and wet brown paper towels. There
were lockers near the North end of the gym and by the office in
the front of the building. Just inside the cafeteria to the right,
was a wall of bookshelves for us to place our lunchpails and bags
before school started. The cafeteria line was on the far, South
end of the cafeteria. We usually had things like meatloaf, fish
sticks, green beans, succotash, mashed potatoes, and of course moo-juice
(milk). As far as I know, everyone's favorite meal was bean
chowder day. We'd get a piece of corn bread with it and a cinnamon
roll. The bean chowder was kind of like chili, moreso than soup.
And everyone loved the cinnamon rolls.