Briggs community looks forward to Homecoming
By Christine Bolaños
BRIGGS — The Briggs community is preparing for its annual Homecoming event scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17, at Briggs Community Center.
The event gives graduates of the now defunct Briggs School an opportunity to socialize and catch up with each other, reminisce about their time at school, enjoy a potluck, music, awards and a special presentation.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see old friends,” said Class of 1947 alumnus Carroll McCoy. “Of course, no one, I suppose can make all of the reunions. When you skip the reunion and somebody else has skipped the reunion — we were just looking at the plaques on the wall at the different classes – and it’s pretty significant the percentage, when you go back to ’47, that are no longer with us.”
He said a lot has changed in the way a school day operated back then compared to today.
“There are major differences,” he explained. “First thing I think about is there was no air conditioning. For heat, the place was heated with a wood stove. The boys would carry in the wood and someone was available to start the fires in the morning.
“In the classrooms we had the little blackboards you still see on the wall,” he said. “Erasers would get dusty so the boys would take them outside and dust them. Sometimes getting into a little bit of a fight with them and, of course, bathroom facilities amounted to little buildings — one for the boys and one for the girls.”
The Briggs Community Center facility used to house Briggs School when it was in operation. After its closing, students in the area attended Burnet schools.
“As we moved on through the years we did have lunch rooms here. A couple of ladies that did live in the community were ladies that did the cooking,” McCoy said. “I can remember my senior year the superintendent taught us math and he also controlled the bell for when we got out for lunch and so forth, so we knew to the second when the bell was going to ring.”
McCoy and his friends would make sure they were the first in line for their homecooked-style meals.
“We had prayer,” he shared. “We also had a weekly prayer but this was before noon meal. I still remember fondly.”
He said days that were extremely cold or hot are easy to remember. If a pond was icy then the children would skate on it. The community just dealt with the heat as there was no cooling system at the time.
“Sleep outside sometimes to find a cool enough spot to sleep,” he said. Children would do house chores after school as long as they made it inside the house by dark which was typically supper time.
“Whenever we got home from school, 11 miles (away), my parents were waiting for my help,” McCoy remembered. “I had chores to do. Take care of hogs or sheep or horses or whatever.
“My mom had an evening meal prepared about dark time. After that, studying,” he recalled. “There wasn’t any computer time.” His parents lived on a ranch four miles west of Watson, which is a community about seven miles from Briggs.
He remembers how some students, including himself, worked daylight until dark picking cotton or hauling hay. Homework was typically done after dark.
He and other former Briggs students look forward to reuniting at Homecoming every year. Though the numbers dwindle each time.
“Over half the class has passed on,” he said. McCoy estimates about half of the Class of 1947, including those residing in nursing homes, live in the general Austin area today. “It’s more in the Lampasas area,” said Crystal Reed Kinsey, president of the Briggs Community Center. Her father is a Briggs School alumnus and she carries the community’s legacy by organizing events at the facility. She is also a Briggs resident.
“I love the building and the history of it,” she shared. “I just see someone needs to keep it going. I’m just a volunteer.”
As far as what he looks forward to during Homecoming, McCoy laughed and said he hopes to hear stories he hasn’t heard before. Doors open for Homecoming at 9 a.m. on Saturday and attendees will have the chance to visit and reminisce with all Briggs School alumni. Classes of 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960 and 1965 will be recognized with special milestone reunions.
The ceremony follows at 11:30 a.m. and includes awards and a special presentation. A potluck lunch will be served at noon.
“We give out awards to who came the farthest, who’s lived in Briggs the longest, the oldest person in attendance,” Reed Kinsey said. “We have one couple this year celebrating their 70th class reunion. They’ve been married 70 years. They married right out of high school.”
The Community Service Award is bestowed upon a worthy former student at Homecoming.
“Out of the Briggs community. We call it our Wall of Honor,” Reed Kinsey shared. “We put their picture up.” To earn the award a person must have given back to Briggs in some way.
“I came back in ’75 or ’76 and one of the things we worked on — the place was just really deteriorating — and what people like Crystal took hold,” McCoy said. “You see everything is neat. It may not be new but it’s neat. All these colors, the painting, the floor carpeting — that’s donated.”
Reed Kinsey said a group of former students in 1987 took back Briggs School from the Burnet school district to be used as a community center.
“We bought it back for $10 dollars,” they both said proudly.
The last class to graduate from Briggs School was the Class of 1964 that had two students in it.
“The valedictorian and salutatorian,” McCoy laughed.
Other Briggs alumni shared some stories with The Independent.
Class of 1962 alumna Treva Stewart Clark shared some little unknown insight.
“She told a story that they used to during lunch hour or after school, they would go up to the roof and sun tan,” Reed Kinsey said, in between some laughs.
“That’s one of those I hadn’t heard,” McCoy chimed in.
“She remembers in first grade going out to build forts out of the wood pile,” Reed Kinsey said. “That was a pretty interesting story.”
McCoy played football as a senior though he said as a small community the team would usually end up losing games. He remembers the strong school and community spirit though.
The team would typically play against Liberty Hill, Hutto and Lampasas B Team. The mascot was the Briggs Eagle.
“Gosh, it’s been a long time,” said McCoy, who was Precinct 2 Commissioner from 1987 to 1998 and was in the Air Force for 24 years.
Reed Kinsey said former students give back to the Briggs Community Center.
“Recently we had Ray Bizzell put in a new floor in one of the rooms and he’s a former student,” she said. “The Caskey family all went to school here and they purchased a rock sign dedicated to their parents.”
Coordinators ask that attendees bring a side dish to the Homecoming lunch. The Elderly Brothers will perform music from the 1950s and 1960s after lunch.
Donations and memorials are appreciated. Reed Kinsey asks that anyone with Briggs memorabilia consider donating those items to be preserved as part of Briggs history.
Anyone interested in renting the facility can contact Reed Kinsey.
The Briggs Community Center is forming a historical committee to preserve the former school building. Those interested in helping with grants, fundraising for the building needs and history of the school for a historical marker should contact Reed Kinsey at (512) 556-1471.