Stephen F. Austin State University

1942 East Texas Girls' High School Basketball Team (March 2012)

1942 East Texas Girls' High School Basketball Team
By Deborah Burkett

With G.H. Thomas as their coach, the 1942 Rusk, Texas High School Girls' Basketball team amassed one of the best records in school history. In the accompanying photograph left to right is Coach Thomas, Marie Manes, Dorothy Long, Mamie Holcomb, Maggie Dillard, Lillian Martin, La Verne Jackson, Dorothy Jones, Hazel Salee and Emoline Langston.

These girls beat almost everyone they encountered, like Whitehouse, Bullard, Gallatin, Wells, Mixon, Maydelle, Dialville and La Poynor. Tie games were with Gatesville and Kildare. Would love to have been in the stands cheering them on! Go Eagles! How this photograph and the related information were discovered is told in this column.

In the Middle Ages history was defined as a story. But sometimes parts of the story can be missing then history becomes more like a puzzle--a piece here, one there, will this fragment fit?

Recently I found myself asking a seeming simple question; never realizing the answer would lead to a much larger story. While viewing embroidered names on a friendship quilt at a local show in Troup, I pondered the center block which read: 1927-1935 Corine School, Mrs. G. H. Thomas. Who was she, where was this school? What follows are discovered pieces of this puzzle that make for quite a story.

Corine, a farming community eight miles west of Jacksonville, was settled after the Civil War, a post office opened in 1888, and a school was established in 1892.

In 1980, the above mentioned quilt had been rescued by Mary Taylor and Virginia Simpson. Mary spied the quilt in a Tyler antique store; it caught her eye when she recognized names like Lloyd Bearden and Harold Simpson. Mary worked with Harold's wife, Virginia, who lived in the Corine community; she purchased the quilt immediately.

On further examination it became apparent Mrs. Thomas was the only adult name on the quilt; all the others were students. The quilt was made in 1935 as agoing away gift for this favorite teacher. But by 2010 when the quilt was shown no one could remember Mrs. Thomas, her first name or what became of her.

A relative of mine, Hazel Langston Williams, Rusk Class of 1943, added additional pieces to the story. She remembered that in the late 30s and 40s, Mr. G.H. Thomas was a Math and Algebra teacher in Rusk, as well as the girls' basketball coach; my mother's coach in fact.

More questions led to George Robert Holcomb and his memories, "The Thomas family lived next door to us…When Mrs. Thomas left her teaching position at the Corine School, she and Mr. George Herschel moved to the Bulah Community in the Rusk area…"

Marvin Troublefield, Rusk Class of 1941, added more information as he talked about his high school years, "I remember Teacher Thomas well; he was a World War I Veteran and had coughing spells as a result of being gassed in the trenches. Many times he would have to go to an open window and breathe deeply…I also remember Emoline Langston, your mother-she had auburn hair and played basketball…."

Next, Margie Bane Bruner, Class of 1943, shared her 1942 Rusk High School Yearbook and there it was, the picture seen here. I'd always thought it was taken in Orangefield, Texas, where my grandfather, Willie Langston, had been School Superintendent for a time. Margie also noted this was the last Rusk yearbook for awhile because of the paper shortage during World War Two.