The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 18, 2011

A Visit to the Coca-Cola Plant


TARBORO — Just under 60 years ago, in May 1952, a dedicated teacher who wanted her students to learn about their community and learn about work took her students on a field trip to a local industry in the county seat of Tarboro.  What did the students learn from such an outing?

The teacher was Mrs. Parker and she taught second and third grade at Crisp School. She brought the students to Tarboro to the Coca-Cola Bottling plant where students toured the facility and learned how the beverage was put in the bottle, capped and then sent to stores. At the end of the tour, the students were all treated to a Coca-Cola or Coke as it is known today.

The students also posed for a picture as the owner of the plant and their tour guide was M.S. Brown who was never without a camera. Not only did he treat the students to a free Coke, he also took a photo of the groups and shared that with the class.

While assisting local history librarian Pam Edmondson at Edgecombe County Memorial Library with the organizing and cataloging of the M.S. Brown Collection last month, two discoveries were uncovered in the collection. The first was a folder Brown had kept of all the thank you notes written by the students about that visit.

They were written on the old lined paper used in elementary schools that had full lines for capital or upper case letters and half lines for lower case. While most of the letters were printed, a few were written in cursive. (Something  that is no longer taught in elementary school today.) The letters not only thanked Brown for the tour and the picture, but some included illustrations.

The second discovery was the actual photo of the group at the end of the visit. While it was just labeled Crisp school visit 1952, it was obvious this was Miss Parker’s group. The photo was taken just over 59 years ago. The students at the time would have been seven or eight years old making them in their mid- to late-60s now.

We have the names of many of the students from the charming letters, but there is no identification to match the names with the photo. Following are the names of the students with some quotes from their letters.

"Dear Mr. Brown. We were delighted to get the big picture. We were most delighted to get to the small pictures to take home with us. May God bless you for doing what you done for me. Love Frank Abrams."

"Dear Mr. Brown, We thank you for the drinks. We are delighted to get the pictures. I hope I will be a man like you. We enjoyed our visit. Love, Joseph   Bridgers, grade 3."

"Dear Mr. Brown, I was delighted with the picture you sent us. The picture was lovely too. The coca-cola was very good. I was glad Miss Parker took us.  Love Anne Hathaway, grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we enjoyed the coca-cola. We were delighted with the picture you gave us. Flora Hines, grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown, We enjoyed the drinks. We thank you for the picture to. I like the coca-cola plant best. Love Judy Jones, grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we are delighted with our picture. You are very good to take the picture. Thank you for them very much. You are good to give us the coca-colas. I look funny in the picture. Kathryn Cobb grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we enjoyed the picture. The big picture is the prettiest. We enjoyed the coca-cola too. Mrs. Parker was nice to take us to Tarboro. Love Ed Rose grade 3."

'Dear Mr. Brown. I think you were very kind to let us come to visit your plant. Thank you for the picture.  Thank you for the coca-cola. I want to be a man like you when I grow up. Love Glenn Corbett, grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown. I like the picture of our group. We like Edgecombe County. Thank you for the picture I liked our trip. I am Peggy Brody grade 3."

"Dear Mr. Brown, I enjoyed the coca-cola plant. I like Tarboro very much too. Love Lennis Earl Turner grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we are very happy about the picture you sent us. I enjoyed the coca-cola. You were very kind to give us the coca cola without our paying. Love Raymond Eakes grade 3."

"Dear Mr. Brown, I enjoyed the coca cola plant very, very much. We thank you for the picture. I like Tarboro. Marsha Fay Forbes grade 2.

"Dear Mr. Brown, We enjoyed our visit. It was interesting. The coca cola was good. Raymond Earl Hagans grade 2.

"Dear Mr. Brown, I was delighted with the picture you gave us. I think you are a kind and sweet man to give us that picture. I am Yvonne Manning, grade 3."

"Dear Mr. Brown, I thank you for your lovely picture you gave us. We think you are the best man in Tarboro. I want to be like you.  We had a lot of fun. Love Sidney Summerlin."

Dear Mr. Brown, I enjoyed the drinks you gave us. Thank you for the pictures. I drink your drinks everyday. I buy them at the store.  I like the big bottles. Woody Wooten grade 3."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we are delighted with our picture. Thank you for the drinks.  I hope I can be like you. Love Dan Williams Grade 2."

"Dear Mr. Brown. I am glad of my picture. Thank you for the coca cola. I think you are a good man. We hope we can visit you again. Love James Morris."

"Dear Mr. Brown, I was delighted with the picture you sent. It was very kind to show us a crate to put pour bottles in. You are nice. I want to be a man like you. When we wrote our sentences, Mrs. Parker said I had some good ones. Wayne Deal."

"Dear Mr. Brown, we had a good time at the coca cola  plant. Thank you for the drinks. Thank you for the picture. I saw a good bottle was any coca cola in it? Love Bobby Grey Cobb 3rd grade."

We would love to know who each one is and what happened to these students when they grew up. I am asking  anyone who recognizes the names or the students in the photo to call me at the college (823-5166 x 241) or at home (641-6465) and tell me which one you are in the photo and what you remember about the field trip. I will publish the information in a future column.

Monika Fleming, the Historic Preservation Program director at Edgecombe Community College, is an Edgecombe County historian. Look for her reports each month on the Community page.