Noble Hill extends invitation to picnic
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 29, 2011 | 2420 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marian Coleman, curator for Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, shows Danny Wheeler Jr. one of the museum’s newest exhibits. Wheeler is the son of Susie Wheeler, a long-time educator and graduate of Noble Hill who eventually led the effort to preserve the school as a museum.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Marian Coleman, curator for Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center, shows Danny Wheeler Jr. one of the museum’s newest exhibits. Wheeler is the son of Susie Wheeler, a long-time educator and graduate of Noble Hill who eventually led the effort to preserve the school as a museum. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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For Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center Curator Marian Coleman, the site's Labor Day Picnic is an ideal time to reminisce with old friends and classmates. The 22nd-annual event, which is set for Sept. 5 from noon to 5 p.m., serves as an informal reunion for the former school's alumni and the general public.

"It started in 1989 when the museum was first opened to the public," said Coleman, who attended Noble Hill from the first through third grade in the early 1950s. "This was an idea to get all the alumni and people that were involved at Noble Hill to come back for a time of fellowship.

"It's open to the public, but we send out special invitations to those that went here, that were involved with the school with their families. It's lots of fun. They usually enjoy the fellowship mostly when they come. Even though we do have games for the children and different activities, the grown-ups mostly enjoy the food and the fellowship."

After sitting vacant for more than 25 years, the building that provided instruction for black children from 1923 to 1955 was transformed into its present state in 1989 with the help of state grants, private donations and fundraisers, all totaling more than $200,000. Located at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville, Noble Hill -- now a black cultural museum -- reveals what life was like for black residents during the early- to mid-1900s.

In addition to the social aspect of the event, there also is going to be games for children, Stage Door Old Time Photos provided by John Cartwright of Stone Mountain Village, and various food dishes, including fish, barbecue pork and chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, western beans, homemade fried pies and cakes, soft drinks and lemonade. While the activities are free, donations are sought to help fund the center's annual Unsung Heroes Banquet in November.

"We do this every year also, honoring people -- African Americans in Bartow County, some of the ones that are known for different [contributions]," Coleman said about the Unsung Heroes Banquet. "We use a different category each time, for instance one year we did the churches. We honored the pastors [of] the churches that were over 100 years old. Then one year we did African-American retired educators. One year we did those that were in the armed forces. If they're well-known, we [recognize] one person but most of the time it's a group of people."

At last year's banquet, Winston Strickland was honored for his business and philanthropic endeavors in Bartow and Cobb counties.

A barber for about 50 years, the business owner previously chaired the Georgia State Board of Barbers for 27 years, was president of the National Association of Barber Boards of America and was inducted into the NABBA Hall of Fame.

About 15 years ago, Strickland founded Blacks United for Youth in Cobb, an organization that fosters youth and has provided more than $400,000 in college scholarships.

"I think that [from] a childhood perspective I look at it as the values that my mother and daddy put in me," Strickland told The Daily Tribune News prior to last year's banquet. "My dad was a Baptist preacher and he put in me the love and spirit of serving.

"I never thought that somebody would reach out and want to honor me but in the meantime I must have touched somebody's life. ... [To me, volunteering is] so important. You can read a book all you want to but what really impacts young folks is the success that helps them develop skills. They'll look at you [and] at your skills. A lot of people just like to talk but what you demonstrate, it will make a difference in children's lives and it's meat on the bones."

For more information about Noble Hill and its upcoming picnic, call the museum at 770-382-3392 or visit www.noblehillwheeler.com.