Did you Know...?

Some notable Techites and some interesting facts about Techites and Tech High. 
This page is compiled from
"Did you Know..." which first appeared on the NEWS section in 2007.

Did you know?  ... that J. M. Van Eaton, Tech 1956, was the "house drummer" during the golden days of Sun Records?  He's the drummer on the recordings of all the major Sun artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lot of Shaking Going on".


Did you know?  ...From the 1974 Faculty Handbook.  "When time permits, talk to the students about the care of the school facilities, books, equipment, and other materials; neatness and good taste in dress; conduct in the halls, cafeteria, on-campus, off campus, and proper decorum in general.  The homeroom period can be used effectively to instill in boys and girls high standards of moral conduct and ethical living; to correlate the principles of education with democratic behavior and intelligent citizenship.  And then teach them nouns and pronouns..."  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?   ...that after retiring as Principal of Tech in 1975, W. A. Bourne ran for the City School Board?  He lost!   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that ROY J. HEARN, Tech 1930, founded the Memphis School of Preaching in 1966?  As of 2011, the school was still in existence.


Did you know?  ...that Tech High closed its doors in 1987, after 59 years at the last location?  A senior class of only 60 students walked across the stage after planting a new Maple tree among all the older trees that other classes had planted throughout the years.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information). 


Do you know?  ...the seating capacity of the Tech High Auditorium?  The answer is 1190 seats.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that Charles Miller, Tech 1960, a well-known Memphis artist, painted the murals on the walls of Leonard's on Fox Plaza?   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that a Tech team won Quiz'em on the Air in 1954 beating the team from Southside?  The Techites on the team were Tommy Seaman (T'54), Barbara Clifton (T'55), Robert Ashton (T'55), and Charles Hargrove (T'54). (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Do you know?  ...Jackie Burns, Tech 1935, scored the first touchdown - ever scored in Crump Stadium?  The game was Tech-Greenfield TN and Tech won 42 - 0.


Do you know?  ...when additions were added to the original Tech building?  1.  An addition was built in 1951 with 9 classrooms at a cost of $253,961.  2.  A second gymnasium and several other rooms were added in 1962 at a cost of $272,812.  3.  A Vocational Tech building was added in 1976 at a cost of $758,553.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that Wayne Russell, Tech's "Most Talented in 1967" is a Memphis artist who's also an accomplished professional musician?  Wayne formed a local band in the 1970s with his brother Michael, Class of 1969, and his wife Rebecca "Reba" Russell.  The group is now known as the "Reba Russell Band" and they've played locally and internationally.  (Thanks Carolyn Elliot, Tech Teacher, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that WHEATON ENNIS, Tech 1938, continues to sing and play banjo with a Memphis group called "The Steamboat Strummers"? (Thanks Mac McClusky, Tech1940, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that DON NIX,  record producer and songwriter, was a Techite?  Don was instrumental in the creation of the "Memphis Sound" and Stax Records.


Did you know that JAN CRAIG, Tech 1953, and THOMAS NEELEY, Tech 1952, both became teachers and returned to Tech to teach and to coach?


Did you know that ROY C. NIXON, Tech 1952, served Shelby Country as Sheriff from 1971-1975? On January 1, 1976, he became the First Mayor of Shelby County.


Class of 1946

Did you know that the CLASS of 1946 has held a dinner every March and September since their graduation.  It's open to all Techites who wish to attend?


Did you know that BOB LEWIS, Tech 1950, is the former director of Programming at Memphis WHBQ?


Did you know that AUBREY EPPS, Tech 1933, became a major league baseball player.


Did you know that WILLIAM B. WALTON, the co-founder of Holiday Inns, is a graduate of Tech?  He helped organize and run the corporation.  He later wrote "Innkeeper" with Mel Lorentzen.


Did you know?  ...that DON NEWMAN, Tech 1937, was an important Memphis Photographer.  Don photographed every Memphis Landmark through the 40's and 50's.  In many cases his photographs are the only evidence that the landmark ever existed.


Did you know?  ...that ANN POLK, Tech 1973, was crowned Miss Black Memphis in 1975.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know that NORMAN BREWER, Tech 1952 became a TV Journalist and for many years was a newscaster at Memphis Channel 5?  He now does Commentary for Memphis Channel 3.


Did you know?  ...that W. A. Bourne, the 2nd Principal of Tech, held a Masters Degree from the University of Tennessee and a BS Degree from Union University.  He had been a Mathematics teacher and principal at the Tech High Evening School before accepting the reigns from Professor Highsaw.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  1974 Faculty Handbook for Tech High.  "The following deductions shall be made from teachers' salaries for absence:  For Personal illness - $6.00 per day.  For illness in the immediate family - $6.00 per day.  For a death in the immediate family - $6.00 per day."  [Makes you wonder why anyone would go into teaching]   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that the University of Tennessee "borrowed" Principal Highsaw in 1918 to coach it's Debate Team?  A contest between Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida was held that same year and Tennessee won first place in all debates.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know that Memphis Business Leaders, DENBY BRANDON, Tech 1945, and RON TERRY were Techites?


Did you know that the first Maid of Cotton was ALICE HALL, from the Tech Class of 1939?  The Maid of Cotton competition was conducted in every "cotton growing" state and the Maid had a prominent part during Cotton Carnival season in Memphis.  The rest of the year she traveled all over the world and promoted cotton.


Class of 1951

Did you know that the CLASS of 1951 has met monthly for Dutch-treat dinners ever since graduation in 1951.  The get-togethers are on the 2nd Saturday of each month and are open to all Techites.  From 6 to 36 Techites always show up.


Did you know that the CLASS of 1950 has accounted for EVERY classmate on their graduation roster?  Do you know what a MAJOR accomplish that is?  Super-sleuth DON HILD, Tech 1950, is responsible for this great detective work.


Did you know?  ...that BOBBY BRAGAN, Tech 1936, was a former short stop, catcher, manager and coach in Major League baseball?


Did you know that BILL CRUMBY, Tech 1947, became a Chief Inspector for the Memphis Police Department?


Did you know that Techite BOB CHEEVERS, Tech 1961, is a Grammy winning songwriter from Memphis?


Did you know that RAYMOND GODMAN, Tech 1949, was a very successful stock car driver in the 50's?  He participated in the first NHRA Nationals and has 3 National Titles.  Ray was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.


Did you know that politician CLAUDE ARMOUR graduated from Crockett Technical and later became Mayor of Memphis?


Did you know that NULL ADAMS, prominent newspaperman and founder of the Quill and Scroll, was a graduate from Crockett Technical?


Did you know that EARLY MAXWELL, Tech 1923, entertainment entrepreneur, who was responsible for bringing major shows and talent to Memphis, graduated from Crockett Technical?.


Did you know that Techite JAMES C. MACDONALD became Memphis Chief of Police?


Did you know that FREDERICK REGENOLD, Tech 1949, after a successful career in banking, has had 4 novels published in the last 6 years?

             Visit Fred's website:  http://frederickregenold.com


Did you know that CLIFFORD POLAND, Tech 1936, was the underwater photographer responsible for the "Flipper" movie/TV series?


Did you know that Techite CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, Tech 1962, is a four-time Grammy nominee and one of the first white blues players to master the Chicago Harp style?  He has released more than 20 albums and is currently on tour promoting his newest "Delta Hardware".  Charlie is honored with a brass note on Beale Street's WALK OF FAME.


Did you know that artist BURTON CALLICOTT, Tech 1926, who painted the murals at the Pink Palace, was a Tech graduate?  He became a well known and highly respected painter and teacher, who chose to remain in Memphis.  Had he re-located to New York City there's no doubt that he would have become an important international figure in world art.


Did you know that CURTIS PERSON, Tech 1931, has won more than 75 senior golf championships?


Did you know that Tech 1933 beauty queen DORIS BOWDEN, who was Miss Memphis in 1937, starred in the 1940 movie The Grapes of Wrath?  At Tech she spelled Dorris with 2 "r's" and was Vice President of her class.  In Hollywood, she starred in 4 movies and then married the famous producer/screenwriter Nunnally Johnson and retired to raise a family. 


Did you know that Techite TRAVIS WAMMACK, is known as the "fastest guitar player in the South" and plays the guitar at close to the speed of light?  Travis is considered one of the greatest guitarists of rock and roll and made his first recording at the age of 11.


Did you know that GENE BEARDEN, left-handed major league pitcher, was a Techite and pitched the winning World Series game for the Cleveland Indians in 1948?


Did you know?  ...that by 1949, Tech had met arch rival Central 30 times on the football field?  And that Principal Highsaw had attended all 30 games?  Art Teacher Mike Apt missed only 2?  The record at that time was Central 15 wins, Tech 11 wins and 3 ties.  This night Tech added another win with a score of 12 to 7, with over 20,000 people in attendance.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that on the top margin of every Yellow Jacket newspaper appeared Tech's motto - "Ad Astra Per Aspera"?  The translation from the Latin is "To the stars with trial and error, or with difficulty".   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that a Yellow Jacket survey taken 6 months after graduation, found that of all 1967 graduates:  38 were in college, 29 were married, 16 were in the armed service, 3 were in nursing, 39 were working, 9 were in further training to work, 1 was in art school, and 3 were unemployed-looking for work?   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know that BETH MILLER, Tech 1948, starred in The Solid Gold Cadillac on Broadway in the 50's?  Beth sang and danced and was in many Broadway shows as well as on tour in the 50's and 60's.


Did you know that prominent artist THORNTON UTZ, Tech 1933, was chosen to paint the portraits of Roselyn and Amy Carter when they lived in the White House?  He also painted 50 covers for the Saturday Evening Post.


Did you know that ACE CANNON, Tech 1952, the "Godfather of Sax", started his career in Memphis, originally recording for Sun Records?  Ace is still very active and will play at his 55th High School Reunion September 22, 2007.

        Visit Ace Cannon's website: 


Did you know?  Item in the Yellow Jacket News 1967.  Did you know that George Piaggio's art students have painted Christmas scenes on the windows of the Goodfellows building every year since 1937?   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?   Did you know that Principal Highsaw had only one year of college before going to Pecan Gap, Texas to teach in a one-room schoolhouse?  He later returned to college and earned 3 degrees, from University of Oklahoma, from University of Wisconsin, and from Memphis University of Law.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).  


Did you know?  Did you know that Miss Effie Wright was voted the most popular teacher in the entire school in 1923?  She had received the same honor in 1922.  Miss Wright came to Crockett Tech High in 1919.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know that JAMES AUTRY, Tech 1951, was Editor of Better Homes and Gardens and since 1983 has had 10 books published - two of which are poetry?  He has also been elected to the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame.

Visit Jim Autry's website:  http://members.aol.com/jamesautry




Did you know that KAY STARR, major recording star from the 50's graduated from Tech in 1940?  Her name at Tech was Kathryn Starks and she was already doing tours with major bands while still in high school.

          Visit Kay Starr's website:  http://www.kaystarr.net


Did you know that the first Tech graduate to become an All American football player was JIMMY CRAWFORD, Tech 1946?


Did you know that Pete Dugan, Tech 1937 is personally responsible for getting the Veterans Plaza built in Overton Park?  The memorial was the culmination of Pete's 55 year personal crusade to honor soldiers from Shelby County who lost their lives in America's wars.  (Thanks Dave French, Tech 1969, for the information).


Did you know?  Did you know that in 1955, Tech had 2 "Ham" stations?  W4EPQ.  There were 2 transmitters - one 650 watts and the other 1 kilowatt.  And the school had 5 licensed operators.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  Did you know that Principal Highsaw organized the Tech High ROTC in 1918 just before the close of WW1.  The ROTC unit had 88 boys and the uniforms were made by the boys themselves because of shortages due to the war.  They wore white trousers, blue coats, brass buttons, blue caps and their wooden rifles were made in the Tech shops.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know that the Tech High R.O.T.C. unit provided the firing squad and bugler for military funerals in Memphis?  And in the latter part of 1935, and early part of 1936, it had the honor of participating in the funeral services for two of the last remaining Confederate Army veterans.  (Thanks Martin "Buster" Bradley, Tech 1938, for the information)


Did you know that LaConnie Taylor-Jones, Tech 1976 has written two romance novels and has her own web site?  On the website you can find out more about LaConnie and read reviews and view the trailers for her books?  Click here to visit her website.  Click here to see the covers of her two novels.


Did you know?  ...that in 1923 the Memphis Board of Education requested a bond issue of 1 million dollars to build the new Tech High School?  They had outgrown the old building with an attendance of 1300 day students and 350 night students.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that Haywood Smith, Tech 1948, flew Air Force One for President Lyndon Johnson?  (Thanks Carolyn Elliott, for the information)


Did you know?  ...that Tech was the first school in Memphis to have an ROTC unit and the first school to teach Chinese as a language?  These two events occurred almost 50 years apart.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ... that from 1975 to 1978 Tech had its own $750,000 dollar television station - WQOX-TV?  Programing was from 8 AM to 4:30 PM with students handling all the programs and behind the scenes.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ... that in 1918 Tech had its first football team?  Gilbert Schloss, the coach of the Memphis University School, also coached the Tech team.  It was one of the only times that the same man coached both teams on the field.   (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ...that Tech was the first high school in Memphis?  The school building at 317 Poplar was called the "Castle", and it was built in 1898.  It was named the Old Memphis High School and later became Crockett Technical High School .  When the new Tech opened, the "castle" became the Board of Education, until it was demolished in 1965.  During the demolition, a copper box cornerstone was found.  The following items were in the cornerstone box:  (1) A small bottle of whiskey that had its cork eaten away.  Everything in the box had a nice whiskey aroma to it.  (2) Faculty Mementos, (3) Board of Education Mementos, (4) Signatures of all pupils in the school in 1898.  Note:  They actually found one of the students, well over 90, and gave her the paper with her signature back, (5)  Samples of student school work, (6) Old Newspapers, (7) A Confederate flag, (8) A U.S. flag, and (9) Confederate money.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  ... that Miss Effie Wright, longtime Assistant Principal of Tech, was awarded membership on the All Memphis Football Team in March of 1936?  She didn't miss a Tech football game for 17 years and only then because of a serious auto accident.  Miss Wright was also given a commission as honorary Colonel in the ROTC.  And this was long before the "women's liberation movement".  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?   From the Tech Daily News Paper April 23, 1928:  The space in the rear of the shop building is reserved space for members of the faculty.  In the future students must not park their cars in it.  Cars parked there, other than cars belonging to members of the faculty will be pushed into the street.  By order of J. L. Highsaw, Principal.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  From the Tech Daily News Paper October 11, 1928:  Miss Effie Wright selects the design of the Class Rings and Pins for the Senior Class each year.  Rings are $7 and Pins are $5.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know?  From a 1923 Crockett Technician newspaper:  A new Chemistry lab was added this year at a cost of $10,000.  It will hold 128 students and is the most up-to-date lab in Dixie.  (Thanks Rob Jolly, Tech 1970, for the information).


Did you know ...that the Tech High Building has had several different names since Tech closed:  Comprehensive Pupil Services Educational Center, Pyramid Academy, and in 2009 a new name - Northwest Preparatory Academy, which will be a school for overage high school students. 

In the history of the building there have been very few principals:  Mr. Highsaw, Mr. Bourne, William Kobeck, Herbert Robinson (1 year only), and Ira Spillers.  Spillers was replaced by Mr. White, and now, Mike Smith. 
(Thanks to Carolyn Elliott for the information)

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