During the summer of 1917, Genevieve Hudson’s parents promoted her from the fourth grade to the sixth grade. They “had more pride than wisdom,” she said. “And at the age of 9, I became instantly stupid.” Hudson, who had missed grammar and the start of fractions, was not thriving. One day, Ela Hockaday and Miriam Morgan came to call at the family home, and Hudson was enrolled in seventh grade at Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls in a gray frame house at 1206 Haskell Ave. between Live Oak and Swiss. A boarding department was established in its second year.
Hudson, who was 16 when she graduated from the school in 1923, shared this memory April 24, 1978, as part of the Lakewood Library Oral History Project. Hockaday was on Haskell from 1913 until 1919, when it relocated to the Greenville Avenue campus. In 1961, students moved to the current address on Welch Road. Hudson went on to be a teacher and administrator at Hockaday. In 1978, she received the Hockaday Alumnae Association Medal for being outstanding in her field.
Here are her memories of Ela Hockaday and life at school in the early days. On her first day of school, Hudson approached Miss Hockaday with fear because the teacher was known for discipline. “Later we learned to love her. She had a tremendous sense of style,” Hudson said.
Gym was one of Hudson’s favorite classes. The girls wore hunter green bloomers and changed clothes in a playhouse in the back. The Terrill School for Boys backed up to Hockaday, and Hudson recalled watching the boys cheer on the girls while peering over a tall fence or from their second-story window.
Miss Hockaday’s inspiring talks in study hall were emblazoned in Hudson’s memory. “Miss Hockaday was absolutely electric. She had the uncanny ability to materialize when least wanted.” For a while, the girls discovered they could sneak onto the roof at night. They would pretend to sleep in their rooms then grab their pillows, slide down the banisters and head for the roof — until they were caught.
At their first dance, the girls dressed in gowns with modest necklines ready to meet young men. They stuffed tulle down the front of their gowns so “we would be what Hockaday girls should look like.”
In 1961, Hudson returned to Dallas from Knoxville for the dedication of Hockaday’s new building. Miss Hockaday had died in 1956. Hudson thought the school was so magnificent that it frightened her. Then she saw Miss Hockaday’s old desk and met some of the students.
“The girls were like all the girls that I’d ever known,” she said. “They were more sophisticated, perhaps, but they had that same look in their faces. There is a certain peace and beauty that comes into the face of a young person who is given an opportunity to develop herself and her strengths.”
This interview of Genevieve Hudson was conducted by Harriet Olmsted Weber, Hockaday’s Prep Class of 1935.