Cary News: Opinion

Cary’s Heritage: Cary High once served as private boarding school

Cary High School started out as a private boarding school. In 1907 it became the first publicly funded school in North Carolina, but continued as a boarding school.

Here are tales about students who attended Cary High as boarders.

Bertha Pleasants Daniel: Cary High had a boys’ dormitory and a girls’ dormitory, and people came from all over North Carolina because of the school’s good reputation. A lot of the students were local, but boarded in private homes and did light housekeeping. They stayed all week to go to school, then went home on weekends.

Hilda Crumpler: Papa thought Cary’s school was the best one in the state. It was the only one that had a girls’ dormitory. So he carried me there from Creedmoor to be a boarder in 1916.

Living in the new girl’s dormitory, the first time I went to the bathroom, I couldn’t find my room. They hadn’t put the numbers on the doors yet. We had to make up our bed before class. First, we had morning assembly where we marched into the auditorium to music. Then we went to our classes.

The dormitory had the kitchen and dining room in the basement. Two single women ran the kitchen, and they were real good cooks. But we didn’t get enough food. We only got two slices of bread for breakfast. One time, we asked for more but they wouldn’t give it to us. So every one of us poured a whole lot of molasses onto our plates from the pitchers on the table, then we left. We almost got expelled for that.

Rachel Dunham: My sister and I came to Cary in 1918 to go to school because we wanted to take home economics. The girls’ dormitory was so crowded that we boarded at the Walker Hotel. We got up in time to go to school. We walked to and from school, and got home about 3:30.

We cooked our own meals. Mrs. Walker didn’t supervise our homework. I don’t know whether she knew how. When classes changed, a student would ring the bell. We had toilets down in the basement. My sister graduated in 1923, and I graduated in 1924. I took teacher training my last year there.

Mary Crowder: My mom came to the boarding school from Swift Creek. Granddaddy brought the girls up on Sunday afternoon by horse and buggy and picked them up on Friday. They stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Jones and Mrs. Scott. He didn’t let them stay in the dormitory because that wasn’t according to his beliefs. He wanted his girls to live in private homes.

Daphne Ashworth: My mother graduated from Cary High in 1913. She came from Fuquay to be a boarder, but there was not room in the girls’ dormitory, so school officials allowed my mother and her sister to rent a room in the pink house, then owned by the Yarboroughs. The school knew that Mrs. Yarborough would enforce the rigid rules that the school had for girls. There were four girls and seven or eight boys in her class.

Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, “Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina,” first published in August 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local residents and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.