Mounds Douglass High School "Golden Tornadoes"

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Mounds Douglas High School
moundsdouglashs.jpg
Mounds, Illinois

The History of Mounds Douglass High School
 
Mounds (population 1,117) is located in far southern Illinois in south central Pulaski County. Mounds is about 5 miles north of Cairo, 2 1/2 miles northwest of the Ohio River, and 3 miles northeast of the Mississippi River. Old Highway 51 is the main roadway traveling through town and Interstate Highway 57 runs past the east edge of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad runs past the west side of town as well.
 
The history of the town of Mounds and its former Douglass High School are in need of research. It is quite possible that Mounds Douglass was an all African American high school developed in the early 1900s. There were several similar high schools in the area at the time including schools in Cairo, Colp, Mound City, Brookport, Metropolis, Carbondale, East St. Louis, and Du Quoin Lincoln (also on this site). Schools in these towns made up what was known as the "Southern Illinois Colored Schools Conference." Mounds Douglas was one of the most competitive of these schools, gaining IHSA hardware (www.ihsa.org) in a couple of different sports.
 
At the end of the 1964 school year, it was decided to pool the resources of Mounds High school and Mounds Douglass High School. The nearby town of Mound CIty joined in the effort with Mound CIty High School and Mound CIty Lovejoy High School. The two towns and their four schools made up what is now known as Mounds Meridian High School. 
 
Meridian High School and grade school is located in Mounds. We are not sure of the fate of the former Douglass High School building.
 
The photo above was found on the website for Mounds Township High School found at www.MoundsRailroaders.com. The website shows some great historical photos of Mounds, Illinois and was provided to us by Margaret Grace
 
Mounds Douglass High School Quick Facts
 
Year opened:                          early 1900's
Year closed:                           1964
Consolidated to:                      Meridian High School (Mounds) 
Douglas HS team nickname:    the "Golden Tornadoes"
Team colors:                           Purple & Gold
School Fight Song:                  unavailable
Athletics
 
Mounds Douglass had IHSA success in three different sports (www.ihsa.org).  Boys basketball, cross country, and track & field all saw an "area" measure of success. Two kids on the track team even took their success to a state-wide level. The school even won hardware as a member of the Southern Illinois Conference of Colored High Schools (SICCHS). 
 
As you can see in the "quick facts" portion, we are in need of a lot of information about Douglass High. Team colors, school fight song, and history of the school and its athletic program are all in need of research.      
 
Boys' Basketball
 
The schools most successful venture was in the sport of basketball. Seven District titles, including an incredible five in a row (1951-55), and two Regional titles highlighted the Douglass HS hardwood lore, to go along with two SICCHS titles during World War II. Unfortunately, the coaches' names and team records of these and other great Douglass High School teams are not available at this time.
 
1944-45              SICCHS Champions
1945-46              District Champions
                          SICCHS Champions 
1946-47              District Champions
1950-51              District Champions
1951-52              District Champions
1952-53              District Champions
1953-54              District Champions
                          Regional Champions
1954-55              District Champions
1959-60              Regional Champions                       Coach Gene Cross
                          Lost to West Frankfort 71-69
                          in Sectional Championship game.
                          West Frankfort would finish 3RD
                          in the IHSA Tourney finals!
 
*Coach Gene Cross played basketball and was a star player for Mounds Douglass High School in 1944. He would go on to become the assistant coach for Jim Byassee when Mounds Douglass and Mounds High School merged in 1964. Coach Cross would leave his mark on the Illinois high school coaching circles being elected to the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame. Sadly, Coach Cross passed away in the 2002.  

Boys' Cross Country
 
Two harrier teams of the mid-1950's proved what a talented lot of athletes Douglass High School had. In consecutive seasons of 1954 and 1955 the cross country boys team won their District Championships and qualified for the state meet competition. Again, coaches' names and team records are not available.
 
1953-54        District Champions
                    Qualified for State Meet Competition
1954-55        District Champions
                    Qualified for State Meet Competition
 
Track & Field
 
Three District titles and two individual medalists marked the IHSA success of the Douglass High School track program. This was done under the one-class track meet system. Their accomplishments are listed below.
 
1941-42          District Champions
                       SICCHS Champions
1942-43          District Champions
1945-46          Individual Medalist
                      Leonard Tucker             High Jump         4TH Place 
1952-53          District Champions
1953-54          Individual Medalist
                      Jesse Watkins                1 Mile Run         4TH Place
Famous Athlete
 
Mounds Douglass High School graduate Len Tucker would become the first African-American player to be signed by the St. Louis Cardinals.  Check out Len's story at http://www.attheplate.com/wcbl/tucker_len.htm
 
Memories
 
**From James B. Earley (Class of 1951):
 
"I visited your site "Douglass High School...Golden Tornadoes." A wonderful walk down memory lane!  Thank you very much. I was a student at Douglass..entering the freshman class of 1947 and graduating with the senior class of 1951. James Price was the Principal through my junior year, as I remember.  He resigned at the end of that term....and  was replaced by Johnny Edmonds. The faculty was composed of Maude Hill, Mrs. Williams, Stevetta Harrell, Stanley Thomas, and during my senior year a young man joined the staff...his name eludes me.  As an aside, around 1981 or perhaps 1982 I was grocery shopping in Safeway at Fairfax Ave/Pico Blvd - Los Angeles.  I heard a voice yell from the far side of the store...."Hey Jimmie Earley."  It was Mr. Edmonds!  I had not seen the man in ages.He had been with the Los Angeles School system for quite a long time! In closing...please visit the PoemHunter link below...read "Mr. Price...the principal."  This is a true story!
 
Thank you for listening."
 
**From Dorothy Riley Nevils, Class of 1961:
 
"Stanley F. Thomas, renowned musician and band director, died earlier today, November 4. The band, especially the combo band, was a standout under his direction.  He took hand-me-down instruments and worked his magic, and his students so impressed listeners wherever they went that donors showered the school with replacement instruments.  I was one of those students, and will never forget, nor betray, his demand for excellence."
    
**From Kaylynn Steinmetz:
  
"I found your website amd noticed information missing in regards to Douglass High School in Mounds, IL. My grandmother and grandfather were both graduates from that school and attend an annual high school reunion every summer. The school colors were purple and gold and my grandmother can still remember her school song. If you would like any addition information please do not hesitate to ask. It was a very prominate school in that era and I would like it to be remembered in any way possible."
  
Seeking Further Information
 
If you have any further information or corrections for the history or achievements of the Douglass High School students, faculty, and the townspeople of Mounds, please write to us via e-mail at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net. We are especially interested in a photo of the Douglass High high school building. You can also write to us via real mail at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.      60631