This building in Frankfort Indiana, constructed in 1892, is known as "Old Stoney", and was originally used as a high school. Its best-known graduate was Will Greer, who played Grandpa Walton on the popular television show "The Waltons." It was rebuilt after a 1922 fire gutted the building, leaving only the stone. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The city purchased the building from the Frankfort School Corporation in 1995, and city offices occupy the first floor. The second floor is home to the Clinton County Historical Society and Museum, featuring 8,000 square feet of exhibit space.
Some of the material exhibited at the museum will remind visitors of their elementary school readers. Zerna Sharp taught first grade in her hometown of Hillisburg (about 10 miles east of Frankfort) before going to work for a publisher of textbooks. In her new job, she visited schools and talked with many teachers. She felt the books at that time were inadequate, and reported to her supervisors "You have to think about writing a new book." Miss Sharp heard nothing until she received a note asking her to come to Chicago for the summer to help develop a new primary reader format. Believing that other readers that contained too many new words confused children, she settled on a very simple but effective set of guidelines:
- Only one new word per page
- After two or three pages, all new words were used together
- No story could have more than five new words
- All activities of the characters had to be things that children could do themselves
The result of this new format was the Dick and Jane readers. Zerna Sharp never wrote any of the books, but served as editor and consultant. They were used by millions of students (including this author) from the 1930s to the 1970s. In the late 1960s, these books, like many of our country's traditions, came under attack. Some critics said they promoted the stereotypical female role, although this must have seemed a strange assessment to Miss Sharp. As a career businesswoman, she did not follow the stereotype, let alone promote it. Many people ask why the names Dick and Jane were chosen. No particular reason except that they followed the basic overriding philosophy: Keep it simple.
What is the name of the local high school athletic teams? - The Frankfort Hot Dogs, of course! The Hot Dogs won state basketball championships in 1925, '29, '36, and '39, under the guidance of Everett Case. Although not good enough to even make his high school team, Case became an outstanding coach. After World War II, he took a coaching job at the North Carolina State University. He used his ties to Indiana wisely, and recruited heavily from the state. Case visited a talented high school player from Gary named Sammy Ranzino. When Ranzino asked where NC State was, Everett told him it was "Where all the good Indiana players are going." During his tenure, Case had considerable success, but never won the national championship. One of his players, Norm Sloan, later coached NC State to the title in 1974. In both high school and college, Case's teams were frequently on probation. Sportswriter Bob Collins characterized this era as "The wild and wooly days when rules consisted of what you could get away with." Everett always pushed the limits, and was once accused of offering a recruit a seven-year scholarship (including medical school) for his girlfriend. Case graduated from Central Normal College in Danville, and received his masters degree from the University of Southern California. His thesis was titled "An Analysis of the Effects of Various Factors on Accuracy of Shooting Free Throws." From this research, he concluded that shooting underhand was the preferred method. At USC Everett was an assistant coach to Sam Barry. Sam's son, Rick, was the last NBA player to shoot free throws underhand, and had a success rate of about 90%.
Retreat in the Country
- Old Stoney
Clinton County Historical Society & Historical Museum