Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Archie Stout - Hero
James Archie Stout was the son of James and Nora Bell Stout, born in Greer County on July 8, 1903 (some records say 1904?). He was the oldest son, taking his father's first name, but then being known as 'Archie' his whole life. He was the brother of our 'Nanny', Versie (Stout) Hoffman. The picture is of Archie when he was about 10 years old.
His 'little brothers' seem to have been more well known, probably due to their wrestling achievements. Because of this I was particularly excited to find this story about Archie. It is another example of the character of this family!
EASTVIEW SCHOOL BOY IS HERO
From: Haskell Pruett, Supt., Brinkman Oklahoma 1921
To: The State Dept of Education.
I want to tell you the story of a brave hero I have in my school. I think he should have a medal from some Hero fund. If you can help me get it for him I would certainly appreciate it.
At the opening of school, November 14 , the school board hired a janitor who knew very little about operating our steam heating plant. On the second morning of school our three story building was so filed with smoke that I marched the three hundred pupils outside. The janitor had left the furnace room. We were all on the outside expecting to see the flames burst forth at any minute. Being in the open country, we had no chance of saving our building. The furnace and fuel rooms are underneath the stage in the auditorium which is in the basement. There is no outside entrance and only a small stairway beside the stage leading to the furnace room. The room is very small and the coal is close to the furnace.
While we were thus standing outside, one of my eighteen year old boys, Archie Stout, went into the building without my knowing it. He waded through the terrible smoke and heat into the furnace room, and found, by feeling, that the janitor had built up a fire with the damper cut off. He turned on the damper and the draft caused the school grounds to be covered with soot. When Archie rushed out of the building his face was blistered and his eye lashes were burned off. He told what he had done. Some of the other boys then went into the furnace room and found that he had acted just in time to save the building. The coal and wooden walls were heated almost to a flame by the flames coming back from the open door of the furnace which the janitor had left when he ran out. No one doubts that we would now be without a school building were it not for the bravery of Archie Stout.
This letter was published in the 1922 'Oklahoma Teacher'. Other than the main point of Archie's actions, it has a couple of other noteworthy details. School did not start in Greer County until mid-November. This was because of the cotton harvest, which was underway each year during the month of October. The farmers needed all of their children to pick cotton full time during those weeks, so the schools had to adjust. The other amazing thing is that Eastview had 300 students in 1921. When the 'dust bowl' hit in the 1930s, the schools of Greer County began losing students. Eastview closed in 1949 due to lack of students, with the farm kids being sent to Mangum or Brinkman.
My firefighter wife, Ruth Ann, wants me to be sure to say how dangerous Archie's actions were. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.