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210329 March 29, 2021


The Path to Lockers
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        No, this is not really a story about a way to get to our lockers, but rather a story on the path I took before I ever had my own locker. I am not sure how you ladies took care of getting your books to and from school, but I will dare say many of my male companions followed a similar path as I did. So, here are a few of the things I remember about working my way to having my own locker at Lee.

I remember when I was in elementary school at East Clinton I took my books to school in an army surplus pack, worn on my back to and from school each day. Sometimes we could leave stuff in our desks at school since we had assigned desks and were the only ones to use them. We didn’t change rooms for the various subjects so basically they were our desks for the whole year. Thinking back about that army backpack (some called them knapsacks) it is hard to remember that World War II had not been over very long and there were surplus stores full of excess army equipment. Things that we took for granted back then are now the objects filling museums and private collections. The one pictured above is identical to the one I carried to East Clinton and is now selling for $100 on eBay.

When I entered junior high at Huntsville Junior High School I carried my books to school utilizing a large rubber band type of a strap which securely held them together. I don’t know why, but it seemed cool and mature to carry books that way. It was much neater than the backpack which seemed so juvenile for a junior high student. We did change rooms at that education level so we could not leave our books in one room like before.

When I started the ninth grade at Lee I thought I was really special. The modern school featured individual lockers for the students to use. The photo above is from a tour I made of Lee in 2003. We were assigned lockers but had to supply our own locks to secure them. The favorite lock for me and my friends was a Master three-number combination lock. Those things were sturdy and hard to break and seemed to last forever. The biggest problem at first was to remember the number. The second and most often encountered problem was being in too much of a hurry and getting the numbers off by a digit or two while spinning the dial left and right in the correct sequence. But, despite those simple problems, having my own locker in a hallway made me feel so mature. The ones at Lee were not big enough to stuff someone in like in the movies, but they were large enough to put enough stuff inside and create a mess to have to deal with. 

One thing I do remember is that we must have been required to purchase those Master locks because Mr. Hamilton possessed a master key which could be used to unlock any of the locks on the lockers. I know that because one day I found a certain girl’s locker’s lock hanging loose on the locker. I took it and repositioned it backwards and sideways to where it was almost impossible to get to the dial to enter the combination to open it. I started to walk off and got to feeling guilty (and afraid I was going to get in trouble for doing so) and returned to her locker and started trying to spin the dial and open it. Along came Mr. Hamilton and I knew I was destined to spend a week after school for my practical joke. Instead he saw me struggling to open the lock and just reached inside his pocket and pulled out the master key and inserted it into the keyhole on the back of the lock and popped it open. I thanked him and off he went, never knowing it was not my own locker he helped me open. I put the lock back on properly and headed off to class knowing I had dodged a big bullet. I never pulled that stunt again.

If you remember, our lockers back then had slits designed for ventilation, but for many of us they better served as mail slots in which you could slide a note to someone. Notes were a big part of our social networking and the lockers were great mailboxes for that purpose.

Another fond memory of school lockers is remembering it was a sign of true love to share your locker with your boyfriend or girlfriend back then. I suppose it was a sign of trust to allow someone else to have access to things you normally kept under lock and key.

I know a few more personal stories about our lockers back then but prefer to hear your own memories. Please use the instant form below to share them with the rest of your classmates. 

Locker Memories


        Memphis, TN - Well, my Memphis Tigers won the NIT Championship this year. Too bad Sue and I did not get to attend even one live game to cheer them on, but that is what this year has demanded. 

Things We Survived

    Please share with the rest of your classmates some of the other things and activities we survived which you can recall

Ed Zachary, LHS '69, "Riding down suicide hill on handlebars of a bike."

Tommy Bush, LHS '65, "Playing "war" with dirt clods and rocks and on rare occasions, BB-guns."

Bruce W. Fowler, LHS '66, "The explosive self-destruction of a power supply - that I built - for the electro-magnet of a magnetic resonance spectrometer."

Woody Beck, LHS '66, "Actually the list should be titled 'the most dangerous and stupid things.' I did things like climbing cliffs on Mt. Sano free-hand, no ropes. SCUBA diving in the caves under Cave Hill. Racing Dug Hill road. Drinking too much. My list of dangerous behaviors includes: (1) Riding my bicycle from Lakewood to downtown and back at night. (2) Hitchhiking. and (3) Riding my motorcycle in rush hour traffic on the Parkway."

Craig Bannecke, LHS '65, "As a kid growing up I cut lawns in the neighborhood to earn money, as many boys did. I used my Dad's lawn mower and would often cut three yards in one day. Three yards in an Alabama summer that often left me dehydrated and tired. I would then go on to baseball practice afterwards. I would not think of doing that today. But, as a kid, that is what you did. No one told you any different. However, after one three yard excursion, I wound up with severe dehydration and a headache. My mother wound up taking me to the Doctor who determined I had an extreme case of heat exhaustion and nearly suffered a Heat Stroke ! Who knew ? Bear in mind I mowed with a lawn mower that had no automatic shut off if you turned loose of the mower handle bar. We did not wear hearing protection. Today I am suffering from bad hearing which I contribute to mowing without ear protection and too many loud rock and roll bands ."