2011 Monster Mash and the Old Ogden School — What’s the Connection?

Scooby Doo and haunts from the old Ogden School in the Brasstown /Warne Community team up to make The Learning Center’s Monster Mash 2011 Scooby Doo Where Are You ? and the Ghoul School Mystery Maze (October 29 at The Learning Center campus) possibly the best yet for the  annual, crowd-drawing Halloween attraction. 

As plans for the 2011 Monster Mash began to finalize, the twelve member planning committee settled on the Ghoul School Mystery Maze for the name of the labyrinth-style entertainment that has proven to be the magnet for the night’s festivities since the first Monster Mash that opened to the public in 2005. The director of The Learning Center! soon saw a possible flaw in the tie to the Scooby  Ghoul School cartoon….it is, after all, based on a ritzy, all-girl boarding school, not exactly what says “school” to our mountain region.  She was quick to point out that our area is dotted with the remains of many old schools in various states of disrepair. One such school, Ogden School in the Brasstown/Warne community was actually the second location (1985-1990) of what is now The Learning Center! Charter School.  Director Dyre felt certain that from her own memories of the years spent in this old school environment, along with those of assistant director Karen Brinke and Montessori teacher Regina Swanson, they could contribute to the basic re-creation of the feel and ambience of that old school setting. However, Dyre was certain that if anyone could truly bring the memories of the old school to life on a crisp, fall Monster Mash night, when the air is just right for a stroll down memory lane and an unsuspected bump in the dark that sends one screaming down the halls of the theatrical version of old Ogden School, it would be some of the former students of the early 1920s-1975 Ogden School.

Clay Logan

Some immediate community names came to mind as the search for Ogden alums got under way: David Hyatt, Clay Ivester, and, of course, Clay Logan.  Knowing Logan’s ability to spin a yarn and to create a venue where conversation could flow freely, we settled on our first contact.  Logan promised to bring several of his Ogden cronies to what has now become the legendary Clay’s Corner of Brasstown. Within moments of arriving, Clay welcomed us with an immediate question: “Did you like school?” He went on to say that he certainly did. Of course this was bait for our response question. As educators we wanted to know what specifically caused him to confess years later that he indeed liked school.  Logan answered, “Spin the bottle.” Although he could read the shock on our faces, he just left us to accept that Spin the Bottle was somehow a part of his school setting. He quickly added, “That is until this new girl showed up at school. You see, she was about 300 pounds. She took up two-thirds of the circle and the bottle would almost always land on her…ruined the odds.” As Karen Brinke was reviewing her notes later on that night, she sent an email with this conclusion, “ I guess that “Spin the Bottle” was educational after all….fractions….probability… I knew at this moment that we were in for a very interesting interview.”

Bill Tipton

Clay had invited two other Ogden alumni: David Anderson and Bill Tipton, both students at Ogden from 1946-1954.  We soon found out that these three men had evolved into what is more commonly called the Brasstown Brain Trust. As we took our seats in the circle that is so often filled with young and old, sharing, reminiscing and just enjoying each other’s company at Clay’s Corner,  these three men, and the arrival of a fourth, Ralph Myers, who started at Ogden in 1931, managed to fill our pages with memories that are rich in history. Educators, other staff and students came to life as these living Brasstown legends shared memories of a building and a community that has come to be known as the old Ogden School. This writing is by no means intended to be exhaustive Ogden School research. It is meant to capture the spirit of a community that gathered in Ogden School from the early 1920s through its closing due to consolidation in 1975, continuing into its days as a local mecca for Blue Grass Music, hosting big names such as Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs along with local favorites Colin and Carl Green.

David Anderson

The following listing, in a very random order, pays tribute to the people, their works, concepts of school and education from the early 1920s through 1974, the accomplishments, and the lore that keeps the circle at Clay’s Corner and in other nooks and crannies talking about the old Ogden School:

  1. Robert L. Anderson, Sr., one of the sub-contractors responsible for the construction of Ogden School

  2. David Anderson’s grandfather, James Buchanan Anderson, helped to build in 1922-1923 the Ogden School building that still sits on Old Hwy.64 in the Brasstown/Warne community.

  3. Lucy Hyatt, 1st grade teacher, a name still spoken with respect

  4. George Bristol, teacher, was left-handed and could swing a paddle. He was also remembered for the Debate Team that he started in 7th grade and the fact that he brought his own encyclopedias for the students to use.

  5. The traveling minister who came to the school every few weeks

  6. Ralph Myer’s memory of the boys being sent out to draw water from the well

  7. Horace Garrison, last principal of Ogden and known for assuring that Ogden excelled as a school

  8. Sports facts and lore: Girls basketball started first.  A boys’ team was eventually added. Basketball was played on an outside court that was part of the rockiest playground in the history of schools. Bill Tipton contends that Ogden had the best softball team around.  I guess you could say swimming was also an Ogden sport, for most attested to sneaking away for a swim in Brasstown Creek.

  9. All of our sources for this interview agree that there was some good cooking that came out of the cafeteria.

  10. Pot-belly coal stoves to a coal-heated radiator system kept at least some of the cold out of the building.  Male students often had the opportunity shovel coal as an opportunity to refocus or to repent of some wrong done in the classroom.

  11. Students could pretty much count on the bus getting stuck up on Trout Cove in the winter months.

  12. Subjects included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Health, Geography, drama and some music. No one could recall science being taught. To pass 6th grade students had to memorize all the states and capitols as well as all the counties in North Carolina.

  13. The Yearbook was named the Ogden Eagle.

  14. Bill Tipton’s mother was affectionately called a Grade Mother. Basically she mothered everybody in the class and made sure they were well taken care of when it came to class parties and anything else that was needed.

  15. According to David Anderson, Uncle Norman, Ogden School maintenance man/janitor was an international entrepreneur specializing in the sale of whiskey and game cocks all the way into Mexico and Puerto Rico

  16. Names that were spoken full of strong memory: Opal Lovin, Aubrey Byers, Bob Cunningham and Ida B. Timpson

  17. Clay Logan was 24 years old when the school closed and had been serving as the Maintenance Supervisor.

  18. A concluding remark that that was made several times as the conversation turned to those times in the history of the building when either the original school closed, the Blue Grass music was no longer heard from the Ogden stage, or the last uses such as The Learning Center!, Southwestern Child Development, or private use came to an end:  “It just sat there….”

Ralph Myers

The old Ogden School….we have captured it for a moment. You will see this piece on The Learning Center!  website www.naturallygrowkids.org and the school’s blog: tlcgrowzone . You may even see portions of it in the area newspapers. If you wish to add to the Ogden information, our blog, TLCgrowzone is the place to comment and share. You may find that there is more life still in the Ogden School Community than you think.  Thanks to the Ogden school for housing The Learning Center! briefly before its move into Murphy.  For the fun of it, come out on October 29, 6:30-10:30 at The Learning Center! campus  at 945 Conaheeta Street, Murphy to run the halls of the maze, to view the spoof we are making of Clay’s Corner,  Warne post office and even the Brasstown Mines. You may be surprised who you find lurking in the theatrical walls of Scooby Doo’s Ghoul School Maze.  For this one night, The Learning Center! Charter School will make sure the spirit of old Ogden School does more than “just sit there.”

World Famous Clay's Corner in Brasstown, NC

By:  Mary Jo Dyre, Director, The Learning Center! Charter School


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