My fascination with Reverie started along time ago with Dad telling stories about the ferry and the island. I’d tell him I wanted to see it but he would tell me none of it was there anymore. I guess by that time, things had changed.
Recently, while rummaging through forums and documents on ancestry.com, I came across a post by Mr. John Shank. In his post, he offered pictures from Reverie. I contacted him and asked him to send me copies. His collection came from his father and he had some information to go with the pictures but, as we all have, he had forgotten a lot of what his dad told him about the pictures.
He did tell me what he could remember about the photos and gave me a little history of how his family came to the island. According to John, his father, James O. Shank, Jr., was working on his Master’s at Vanderbilt University in the early 1950s, and ended up attending Scarritt College in Nashville. He later pastored several churches in the Nashville area including Una, Bell Road and Old Hickory before moving to Humbolt, TN.
Around 1956, the State Superintendent of Schools and the Church of the Nazarene, who had been using the Island as a mission training station, ask John’s parents to move to the island to pastor the church and teach school. They agreed, and the young couple moved to Island 35 with their baby boy (John), a one year old daughter and three year old son.
John’s mother, Doris, taught 1st through 4th grade at the school on the island, and his father taught grades five through eight. One interesting story Mr. Shank remembers is that of a Smith boy failing a test. He didn’t want his parents to know so he dumped a bucket of water on Mr. James’ desk ruining the test papers. With corporeal punishment still in vogue, the boy got a spanking from the teacher.
That evening the boy’s father, Doodle-eye Smith who was the bus driver, came around after taking the kids home and said, “I hear you whipped my boy. Nobody whips my boy without my permission.” My dad told him about the papers being ruined but Mr. Smith was not to be deterred. He said, “one of us is going to take a lick ‘in.” Mr. Shank, who had sparred with professional boxers when he was younger, pulled out some boxing gloves and said, “Ok, let’s do this like men. First one that goes down ends it.” Mr. Smith agreed and put his gloves on. It was getting late in the evening and dew was starting to form. Mr. Shank was quick stepping around Mr. Smith and avoiding the round-house punches being thrown. Doodle-eye was getting ready for a big punch and slipped on the wet grass. Mr. Shank took advantage of the situation and landed a direct hit that took Smith to the ground. Mr. Shank quickly pulled off his gloves and announced, “That’s it. It’s over.” Mr. Smith agreed and they became best friends from that point forward.
The family remained on the island teaching and preaching until 1959 but, from the pictures, I can tell it was a full three years. Here are the pictures John shared with me. (If you recognize anyone, please let me know so I can pass along the information.)