Tuesday, October 23, 2018 – The Great American Read Finale, My Favorite Novel and Grogan Cochran Lumber Company
Tonight is the finale of The Great American Read. The number one novel that received the most votes will be announced as America’s favorite novel.
There was a three-way tie for the correct response to my favorite novel. Of course, there were only three votes, but you are all correct. Yes, my favorite novel is Harper Lee’s 1960 publication and Pulitzer Prize winning To Kill a Mockingbird. So Beckie, Barbara and Debbie get to split the $11.50 I usually receive for turning in my books to Half-Price Books.
If you did not already know the correct response, the clue was in “Scout out the list to see if you can find it.” Scout, of course, is Atticus Finch’s daughter in To Kill a Mockingbird.
If you are old enough to remember Paul Harvey, as he would say “And now the rest of the story.”
In 1955 the Magnolia ISD board of trustees called for a $150,000 bond issue. The purpose was to construct a new cafeteria and a band hall, construct two classrooms at the high school, and make general improvements to all of the campuses in the district.
The tax base of Magnolia ISD was the lumber company. Grogan Cochran. Mr. Henry Grogan was against the bond issue because it included improvements to the segregated black school and encouraged his employees to vote again the bond issue.
Nevertheless, the bond issue passed and improvements were made across the district regardless of color lines.
Many years later, in cleaning out my father’s house we found a letter on Grogan Cochran Lumber Company stationery dated 1960. It was his termination letter from Grogan Cochran. My father was still alive and we asked him about the letter. All he said “Yep. If you are going to make improvements to one school you are going to make improvements to all of the schools.”
I hope there is a little bit of Atticus Finch in all of us today.
All of the original papers associated with this story – the bond issue announcement, the blue prints for construction and improvements, the school district’s status report in 1955 and my father’s termination of employment letter reside in the Magnolia Depot.