Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

A Church, Once a School, and Horses

So much of what I do is exploring the area close to where I live.    One of my favorite subjects are churches, mostly those that have been around a long time.  On a recent outing, I left my Taylor home, this time going south.   The trip on this evening took me about ten miles from home, to a tiny community called Norman’s Crossing.   I’d passed by Brushy Creek Baptist Church a time or two, but hadn’t stopped.  For some reason, it didn’t look like a church.   The sign out front, however, indicated it was also home to the Norman’s Crossing Community Center.    Camera in hand, the first thing I noticed, in back, were several really pretty horses.   They (the horses) and I visited for a while.  Sadly, I had no carrots or apples to offer.  As light faded, I turned my attention to the reason for the visit, the building itself, snapping a few photos.   Once back home that night, I did a search on the Internet and was surprised to find the reason for its non-church-like look:  it began life as a one-room school house, specifically Walnut Springs School.  Returning the next day, I met 90-year-old Jock Norman, who lived nearby in the home built in 1904 by his grandfather, Martin Norman, the community’s namesake.  Martin moved here from Alabama in 1872.   His grandson Jock, as it turns out, actually attended the old school, in the 1930s.  Back then, its walls were filled with 56 students and one lone teacher, for grades 1-7.  After that, they moved on to the Hutto school district.  Jock, a lively and jovial fellow who loves his aromatic cigars, was a member of the Norman’s Crossing Community Center.  The best part for me is he had a key to the inside.  The church, you see, rents the building from the community center.  Jock and I paid a visit and got a few photos.  It does have church pews now, but it also has the stage that was there back when Jock was a student here.  He recalls performing on that stage in a school play or two.  Still intact are  the original blackboards, too.   The old black and white photo is a class photo taken in 1935.  The class, says my tour guide, was posing in front of yet another one-room school house that pre-dated the one still around, that one long relegated to history.    Jock’s  in the middle row, third from the right.  The last two photos in the post are Jock at home, on his very pleasant back porch, enjoying a cigar and a pretty afternoon.   This was a fun outing.  What began as an addition to my collection of church photos became much more.   I still plan to return, however.   The horses are expecting carrots.

2 Responses

  1. Katherine hess

    Jock Norman is my grandfather. I loved reading your story. It evoked the peace of your country drive.
    We live down the field from his house. An old looking new two story white farm house. Feel free to drop by the next time you visit. If it’s warm enough we’ll take you down to the natural springs, swimming hole and dig for a few arrowheads. Beautiful photos!

    March 22, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    • admin

      Thank you, Katherine! My initial goal was to find out about the school, but once I met Jock, it was even better. He is tack-sharp, an absolutely-amazing man. We spent almost 3 hours together and I could’ve stayed several more. He showed me his arrowhead collection, too. I’d love to see the natural springs and swimming hole some day. Your grandfather is a gift.

      March 23, 2016 at 2:14 pm

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