Artifact of the week: Mrs. Radley's Kindergarten

Today’s artifact is a photo of the 1947 graduates of Mrs. Radley’s Bluebird Kindergarten. Graduation ceremonies at Bluebird Kindergarten were formal affairs, with diplomas being handed out to graduates donned in pink and blue cap and gown. Participants in this 1947 graduation ceremony were:

Front Row: L to R: Alton Trussler, David Bailey, Patricia Lachowsky, Tim Farris, Mike Jones. Back Row: L to R: Joann Vogan, Carolyn Eidson, Kay Dickins, John Kane, Jack Roberts, Harton Spatz, Harold Eidson

JoAnne Holyfield, pictured on the back row, said that each student memorized a line to recite at graduation. She also related that most of these students graduated Conway High together and many also graduated ASTC together.

Eva Crichlow Bradley was born July 4, 1883 in Bells, Tennesee, the daughter of William Robert and Annie Wilson Crichlow. She moved to Conway in 1907 along with her parents and two siblings. After attending George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, she taught at North Little Rock High School until her marriage to Edward T. Radley, a financial secretary for the YMCA at Camp Pike, in March 1918.

The marriage, held at her parents’ Robinson Avenue home, was conducted by the Rev. H.E. Wheeler, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Conway, and was attended by family and a few close friends.

The couple had one son, Edward Tabor Radley, Jr., born in February 1919. After graduating Conway High School, Edward earned his doctorate and became a professor, at one time on the faculty at ASTC. He was an associate professor of chemistry at Little Rock University at the time of his death in May 1967.

As was recounted by Mrs. Radley’s great niece, Isabell Crichlow Wheeler, at her passing, Eva had her first encounter with young children while she was at North Little Rock High School. She founded the original Bluebird Kindergarten at her home at 2007 Robinson Avenue in the early 1920s.

A June 1922 news item stated that her kindergarten and primary classes closed the year with a “little bird and song program.” Each child was presented with a bluebird emblem at the close of the exercise. The 1923 program was an outdoor pageant with the children dressed in paper costumes.

By the 1940s, it cost $5 a month to attend the school and parents signed their children up at a very early age. In December 1943, an item in the Log Cabin reported that pupils of Mrs. Eva Radley’s kindergarten had their annual Christmas party. They made lollypop dolls, played games, sang carols and exchanged gifts. Mrs. Radley presented each child with a book, something she had been doing since she opened the school.

When Mrs. Radley’s students had birthdays, she could often be found at their homes directing the children in playing games. In her later years, Mrs. Radley moved to 426 Donaghey Avenue. When she passed away in 1966, it was reported that she had run Bluebird Kindergarten for over 30 years.

This photo is part of the permanent collection at the Faulkner County Museum. To see more Faulkner County artifacts, visit the museum, its Facebook page or its website Help preserve our county’s history with your tax-deductible donation.

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