Memories of a Beloved Lovejoy School Teacher
Lucas resident, Debby Wilson, was born in 1949, and grew up in Winningkoff, which is now Lucas. Debby’s mother, Billy McDonald taught at the Lovejoy school for 31 years, from 1950 – 1981. Debby describes the Lovejoy School (current red school house/administration building), “My first six years of school I went to Lovejoy School which was painted white at the time. My mom was my teacher when I was in first through third grade. She taught these three grades all in one room. There were 21 students in her class and 32 students in the school. There was no indoor plumbing. There were two classrooms with space heaters. There were two cloak rooms and one mimeograph machine. There was one lunchroom and one cook, Mrs. Jones…she made the best cheese rolls I have ever eaten. There was one stage room which had a piano. I remember buying jelly rolls from the bread man for a nickel during recess. There was a traveling nurse who went to different schools in the county to give students vaccinations.”
Wilson said before Lovejoy had a bus service, her mother would pick up children on her way to school. Sometimes, when the road near their house was muddy, she would have to ride a horse to get to her car. “She drove a ’49 Ford. We’d pick up neighbors along the way. We did that all the way until I was in sixth grade and then they got a school bus and my dad, Orville “Mac” Louis McDonald was the first bus driver.”
Wilson describes her mother as someone who was always ready to help anyone in need. She recalls her mother taking books to a young boy, Barry Enlow, who had cancer. Debby said, “My mom wanted to keep him up on his studies and make sure he knew he had not been forgotten.”
McDonald enjoyed keeping kids’ interest levels piqued. She wrote and produced plays for the entire school to perform at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She liked to get the parents involved with what the students were doing in school. She held a Red Cross fundraising drive in which she motivated the students to be the top producers by telling them the winners would become King and Queen of the Red Cross Drive. She orchestrated fundraising carnivals. Wilson said, “She, like so many teachers today, bought school supplies for children who couldn’t afford them.”
James H. Love, a former student of McDonald’s, recently said, “Having attended Lovejoy from K-6, I feel the best thing I can say about Mrs. McDonald is that her name is the only one I remember. Of all of my teachers there, I’ve always remembered her and I think that says something about her impact and significance on my childhood. I believe we take something from most everyone we encounter, and her influence must have been that it is possible to be nice, yet stern in discipline.” He said after being asked about her, he looked in his old yearbook and she looked like exactly what he remembered.
Some of McDonald’s favorite co-workers were Carolyn Bushong (Lucas resident), Mrs. Helton, Estelle Spurgin and Beatrice Hunter.
Over the years, many teachers came and went, but McDonald remained steadfast. Even after the tornado hit Lovejoy school and took the roof off the building in the ‘50’s, McDonald returned when the school reopened. She happily found that the remodel included an indoor bathroom. When the school expanded, she taught first grade only. Wilson said, “She always loved kids. Early on the kids were farm kids. They were timid and respected their elders.”
Before retiring in 1981, at the age of 63, McDonald and some of her co-teachers earned their Masters degrees from Texas A&M Commerce. Upon retiring, Billy and Mac moved back to Durant, OK where they grew up. She passed away in 2003. Debby and her husband, Roger Lee, live in her parents’ former house on Estates Pkwy. in Lucas.