Walter Reed School
 2410 Wickham Avenue
Newport News, VA 23607

Downing Gross Cultural Arts Center

  Saturday, October 28, 2000 -

Mrs. Barnes' Fifth
Grade Class
(NNHS Class of 1960)
Mrs. Bessie McFall's Seventh Grade Class
(NNHS Class of 1958)
Mrs. Burton's Fourth
Grade Class
(NNHS Class of 1961)
Mrs. Graham's Fourth
Grade Class
(NNHS Class of 1961)
Mrs. Mary Forbes'
Seventh Grade Homeroom
(NNHS Class of 1965)

FRONT ROW: Glenn Dye, Charles Marrs, _____ _____ Ruby Phillips, _____ _____, _____ _____, Joe Shapiro;

SECOND ROW: _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, Betty Jean Forrest, _____ _____, Liz Breeden;

THIRD ROW: Larry Crum, _____ _____, _____ _____, Forrest Gary, Wayne Sparrow, Van Wayne, _____ Kennedy;

BACK ROW: Alice _____, Beverly _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, and Mrs. _____ Barnes.

FRONT ROW: Henry Goad, Wayne Gray, Bill Rouse, Harvey Fenigsohn, _____ Kemp, Colin Faison;

SECOND ROW: Wayne Columbia, _____ _____, Wayne Agee, Granville Breeden, Bobby Hedrick, _____ _____;

THIRD ROW: Janet Cross,_____ _____, Roslyn Adelman,_____ _____, Anne Hooper;

FOURTH ROW: Mrs. Bessie McFall, _____ _____, Betty Brockwell, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____;

BACK ROW: Patricia Richards, _____ _____, Tommy Sparkman, Jack Tesh, Lonnie Scoggins, Roger Heflin, Becky Marshall, and Carol Hollaway.

FRONT ROW: _____ _____, Bradley Ewell, _____ _____, _____ _____, Diana Merrill, _____ _____, Eugene Turner.

SECOND ROW:  _____ _____, _____ _____, Linda Strickland (?), Lucille Ritenour, Linda Ramsey, Janet Moore, Beryl Barkley (?), Nancy Madagan.

THIRD ROW: _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____,
Norman Covert, _____ _____, _____ _____, _____ _____.

BACK ROW: Robert Reese, Roger Wheeler (?), Lloyd Nelson, _____ _____, Lewis Matthews, Glenn Barkley, Steve Thomas, Billy Hunt (?), Mrs. _____ Burton. 
FRONT ROW: Andy Greenspon, Jesse Hawk, _____ _____, Barbara Ellis, Phyllis Ritter, Harold Klesmer, _____ _____;

SECOND ROW: Do not remember names of any of these;

THIRD ROW: Leon _____, Curtis Watson, Grover Lewis, Banning Crossley, Jesse Hodges, Archie Dail, George Helliesen, Mrs. _____ Graham;

BACK ROW: Linda _____, Barbara _____, Catherine _____, _____ _____, Shirley Markoff, Rita Leonard.

FRONT ROW: Wayne Chapman, Clifton Camden, Sandy Hobbs, Paul McPherson, Wayne Dickerson, Sandra Bateman, Carole Minkoff (Althaus), Sandra Boatright, Debby Fink;

MIDDLE ROW: Donald Smith, Charles Winter, David Sage, Skipper Vickness, Max Bartholomew, Carol Buckley, Janice McCain, Gloria Ballowe, David Neely, Richard Harman;

BACK ROW: Ailyn Bromberg, Patsy Blackard, Steve Burns, Mike Miller, Todd Givens, Marc Snyder, Betty Marie Millner, Nancy Lewis, Faye Thomas, and Frances Hollifield.

Courtesy of Glenn Dye
('60) of TX - 04/20/07
Thanks, Glenn!
Courtesy of Wayne Agee
('58) of FL - 02/26/12
Thanks, Wayne!
Courtesy of Norm Covert
('61) of MD - 09/03/09
Thanks, Norm!
Courtesy of George Helliesen
('61) of MI - 09/23/09
Thanks, George!
- Carol Buckley Harty
('65) of NC - 02/26/03

Saturday, August 19, 2000

TO: Fred Carroll

Newport News Daily Press

A Newport News High School Classmate (June 1945) sent me a clipping of your 5-17-2000 article about the planned rejuvenation of the old Walter Reed School building. That it could be a candidate for something so modern amazes me.

Someone went a bit adrift on the age of the building (stated as 70 years). Actually built in 1917 as a high school for white children. It was urgently needed to replace the old John W. Daniel School (222 Thirty Second Street), part of which had been used for high school classes. During the early part of the century, the rapidly growing population presented an ever-increasing demand for school expansion. The need then virtually exploded with the beginning of World War I in Europe and the resulting influx of workers to the shipyard.

My mother was in an early class at Walter Reed High School. She remembered the soldiers marching by on their way to Camp Stuart; the hastily built Army base a half-mile south on Wickham Avenue. In the 1918 influenza epidemic the demand at Camp Stuart's hospital exceeded capacity and Walter Reed was temporarily converted into a military hospital. The high school kids enjoyed an off-season holiday.

My Aunt Catherine Phillips lived in Warwick County, but attended Walter Reed High School under a little known arrangement between the County and Newport News. This actually came about as a result of a 1921 annexation of County land by the City. The terms of the arrangement called for the City to pay a substantial sum to the County. But the City was in tight financial circumstances and sought to find some kind of arrangement to use in lieu of cash. At the same time, Warwick County was having difficulty completing a new high school, and their old facility was already bulging. A deal was finally struck which allowed Warwick County to send some high school students to Walter Reed High School. So my aunt, a County girl from near Cedar Lane, graduated from high school in the big city. She and other local students rode in a horse-drawn wagon from Phillips farm to the streetcar line in Hilton.

By the mid-1920s Walter Reed could no longer keep up with the demand for high school space. The visionary Dr. Joseph H. Saunders, superintendent of schools, was able to convince the City fathers to begin construction of a huge new Newport News High School on Huntington Avenue. The replacement high school was completed in 1927 and Walter Reed then became (in today's terms) a middle school. The smaller primary feeder schools in the East End were Jefferson, Washington and Magruder. The rest of us came from little Woodrow Wilson School across the footbridge in the Boulevard section.

I entered Walter Reed in September of 1938 and attended the fifth, sixth and seventh grades there. In those days we only had seven years of grammar school and then went off to high school for a final four. I "graduated" (there was no ceremony) from Walter Reed in June 1941, a few days before my thirteenth birthday.

I found life at Walter Reed to be quite different from that of little Woodrow Wilson. For one thing, there were some pretty tough and competitive kids coming in from Thomas Jefferson. Many of those boys were destined to become football stars at Newport News High School. Some wise person once observed that most of the "really good" football players came from a one-square mile area in the East End. And Thomas Jefferson was right smack in the middle of that square.

Like most Newport News school buildings there were two distinct sides to the building -- and identified by the gender on the rest rooms there. The boys' side (at 24th Street) faced a broad sidewalk which was without question, absolutely reserved for serious jump-roping. We boys would have gladly avoided the girl's side except that Walter (Carney - see: Marshall Courts), the push cart bakery vendor, always parked at the adjacent curb. One had to suffer the embarrassment of being very much out of place while negotiating the purchase of a penny cookie from Walter. It always seemed that when we boys were there, the chanting increased in volume just to taunt us. Sometimes I can still hear the kalop of a two girl rope along with the sing-song background: "Cinderella dressed in yella, kissed a fella in the cella -- kalop, kalop -- made a mistake and kissed a snake. How many doctors will it take?"

Warn the new tenants. There are ghosts at Walter Reed!

Fred W. Field

1516 Avenida Selva,
Fullerton, CA 92833-1531

Newport News High School Class of 1945



Let's not forget the Seven Oaks and Marshall Courts people: myself (Rick Billings), Peanut Phillips, Mickey Spivey,
Bunny Booker and others. Playing basketball with the rim nailed to the telephone poles at night under the lights...
Playing baseball in the field near West Grocery and Mr. Stein's Drug Store...

Rick Billings of NC - 02/23/03
Thanks, Rick!


All of the guys (in Mrs. Burton's Fourth Grade Class - 1952-1953 - picture above) prove that no one manufactured pants to fit boys until some years later.
We also may have been wearing our brothers hand-me-downs. No question the girls certainly make up for the boys' lack of sartorial splendor.

- Norm Covert ('61) of MD - 09/03/09
Thanks, Norm!


An 1869 medical graduate of the University of Virginia, Walter Reed (1851-1902) was granted his commission in the United States Army Medical Corps in 1875. After serving as an army surgeon at remote sites in Arizona, Nebraska, and Alabama, Reed was assigned to Baltimore's Fort McHenry in October of 1890. The Fort McHenry assignment allowed Reed to participate in a seven-month pathology and bacteriology course at Johns Hopkins Hospital. There he worked with Dr. William Welch in the pathology of typhoid fever and on the identification of the hog cholera bacillus.

Army Surgeon-General George Miller Sternberg was impressed by Reed's work at Johns Hopkins. In 1893 he appointed Reed Professor
of Clinical and Sanitary Microscopy at the new Army Medical School in Washington, with a joint appointment as curator of the Army Medical Museum. One of Reed's first projects in Washington was a collaboration with Sternberg on a smallpox vaccine study.

In 1895, Reed studied an outbreak of malaria near Washington. He observed that the marshlands played some role in the spread
of malaria, yet he dismissed the suggestion that mosquitoes carried the disease.

In 1898, following the declaration of war on Spain, Sternberg selected Reed, Victor Vaughan, and E.O. Shakespeare to examine the American military camps in order to ascertain the cause of the typhoid epidemic. They concluded that typhoid was the result of filthy living conditions. Two years later, Sternberg made Reed officer-in-charge of the Yellow Fever Commission.

Biography of Walter Reed courtesy of -  09/23/05

The Walter Reed school houses Office of Human Affairs and also has been renamed norvelette
Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center. They provide students with help for school.

- Theodore Blunt of VA - 03/04/06

Thanks so much for that update, Theodore!
While taking our
Magical Mystery Tour on October 22, 2005, we noticed that the school's appearance had been greatly altered since we snapped that image five years earlier, but we did not know what it had become.  Thanks for solving that mystery for us!

Those of us in that tour van who had attended Walter Reed in the seventh grade recalled with great fondness how we Stuart Gardens kids would walk home together after school, as often as not stopping off at the Stuart Gardens Pharmacy for a fountain blended Cherry Coke.  So refreshed, we would resume our walk home together.  As we continued our tour we made note of the various homes of our classmates.  What an idyllic time it was!

" THE DOWNING GROSS CULTURAL ARTS CENTER is a 50,000 plus square foot masterpiece which will encompass The Anderson Johnson Gallery, The Ella Fitzgerald Theater, The Thaddeus Hayes Dance Studio, a sculpture by Richard Hunt, rehearsal rooms, art and music studios, classrooms and more. Soul-stirring music, the magic of live theater, the thrill of dance, the enjoyment of fine art exhibits and events and the celebration of homegrown celebrities has found a new home in Newport News! The Downing Gross Cultural Arts Center will offer residents a place to be both participants and patrons of the arts; a place that identifies, cultivates and celebrates the talents of our youth, as well as our young at heart. 2410 Wickham Avenue. 879-0771."

Courtesy of -

Ella Fitzgerald Way to jazz up part of 24th Street

The late Gregory Cherry worked to honor the "First Lady of Song," who was born in Newport News.

  NEWPORT NEWS - The name of Ella Fitzgerald, the "First Lady of Song" who dominated the jazz world for the first half of the 20th century, will soon grace a street near where she was born 90 years ago.

The Newport News City Council this week officially approved renaming 24th Street between Marshall and Parish avenues Ella Fitzgerald Way.

"Every time we celebrate one of our homegrown celebrities, we are celebrating ourselves and our own story," said Michelle Gilliam, program director of the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center. Gilliam is also one of the founders of the 11-year-old Ella Fitzgerald Festival at the Ferguson Center for the Arts. "It's all part of who we are," she said.

Gilliam and Newport News native Saundra Cherry pushed for two years for the name change.
  Because it is a commemorative renaming similar to the renaming of 25th Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Way an additional street sign will be put up underneath the actual sign so residents won't have to change their addresses.

The city will also install an Ella Fitzgerald historical marker in front of the cultural arts center on Wickham Avenue.

The marker will be similar to the one installed for another Newport News celebrity, singer and actress Pearl Bailey, one of Fitzgerald's friends.

The library next to the Arts Center is named after Bailey. Born April 25, 1917, Fitzgerald spent her first few years in a 23rd Street row house that has since been demolished.

Cherry and Gilliam said they picked 24th Street for naming honors because it's closer to the arts center the former Walter Reed school building which named its theater after the jazz legend.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Michelle Gilliam and Sandra Cherry in front of the 24th and Wickham Avenue signs that the City officially this week renamed 24th Street to the Ella Fitzgerald Way after the soul and jazz icon, born and raised in southeast Newport News.
 Image by Joe Fudge, Daily Press / April 10, 2008

Fitzgerald's father, William Fitzgerald, worked at the local shipyard and her mother, Tempie, was a maid.

The Grammy winner moved at the age of 4 with her mother to Yonkers, N.Y., and does not have any known relatives still living in Newport News, Gilliam said.

Renaming a street in Fitzgerald's honor was set in motion more than two years ago, when Gilliam and southeast community activist Gregory Cherry, who founded the Downtown Newport News Merchants and Neighbors Association, Inc., sifted through a list of who's who in Newport News for a historical walking and driving tour through the community.

"Greg Cherry came up with the idea we should get national markers for these historical cultural icons and create a walking tour," Gilliam said. "He started the work."

When Cherry died unexpectedly last year, his widow, Saundra Cherry, continued with Gilliam to plow ahead with the idea of renaming 24th Street. The merchants association filed the official request in December.

For Cherry, the renaming symbolizes more than honoring a soul and jazz icon. It's the first step toward realizing one of her husband's dreams.

"It was Gregory's vision to recognize the southeast community as a historic area," Cherry said. "And this is the first piece of the puzzle. It was Gregory's dream to promote tourism in downtown and to take away the stigma that there is nothing in downtown. There are things to see here."

Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy awards, sold more than 40 million albums and rubbed shoulders with jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. She was born one year after the Walter Reed school now the Downing-Gross Arts Center was built in 1918.

"And 90 years later she has a theater named after her in this building," Gilliam said.

Fitzgerald not only made her distinct mark in the arts, but also helped to break down racial barriers during the civil rights movement when she demanded equal treatment of her musicians.

"It was a way of fighting racism," Gilliam said. "And it forced a lot of venues to change... you either did not allow her to perform or you had to change the rules in the performance house."

Fitzgerald, who would have turned 91 this month, last visited the Peninsula in 1993, when she performed at the Hampton Jazz Festival.

"Newport News is always being associated with her name. It's her birthplace," Gilliam said. "This is who she is."

Ella Fitzgerald's life

1917 Born in Newport News

1921 Moves with mother to Yonkers, N.Y.

1934 Competes at amateur night at the Apollo in New York City

1936 First recording

1938 First No.1 album sells million copies and stays on pop charts for 17 weeks

1974 Performs for two weeks with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie in New York.

1987 Receives National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan.

1991 Gives final concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.

1996 Dies in Beverly Hills, Calif.


Suicide is Painless

Music by Johnny Mandel
Lyrics by Mike Altman

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...


That suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's to late, and...


The game of life is hard to play
I'm going to lose it anyway
the losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say


The only way to win is cheat
and lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat


The sword of time will pierce our skins
it doesn't hurt when it begins
but as it works its way on in
the pain grows it grin but...


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
is it to be or not to be
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'

'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please

...and you can do the same thing if you please.

"Once again, here is the convoluted logic leading to a MIDI that would not seem to be applicable:

"Walter Reed conquered malaria and yellow fever (both transmitted by mosquitos),
but there aren't too many MIDIs around associated with mosquitos.
So, what other connection might there be? Hmmm, Walter Reed was an Army doctor ..... Sooooooo ........"

Theme from "M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)" midi courtesy of
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/23/05
Thanks, Dave!

"Betcha didn't know that there were lyrics or that the song is actually named, 'Suicide Is Painless'"

Theme from "M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)" lyrics courtesy of
also at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/23/05
Thanks again, Dave!

Image of Walter Reed (Photo in Hench-Reed Collection, CMHSL, UVA) courtesy
of -  09/23/05

Image of Yellow Fever Treatment courtesy of - 09/23/05

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